Division o Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources • Oklahoma State University
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W. R. Kays
Extension Horticulture SpecialistHome Food Gardens and Small FruitsThree vegetables o the cabbage amily, broccoli, cauli-ower, and cabbage, may be successully grown in Oklahomagardens. They provide nutritious vegetables early in the gar-dening season. Broccoli is the more nutritious and containssubstantial quantities o protein, carbohydrates, calcium,phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboavin, and niacin with very highlevels o carotene (vitamin A) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).Broccoli contains only one-third as many calories per poundas whole milk.
Soil and Climatic Requirements
These crops may be grown on a variety o soils, but dobest in a medium-textured soil with additional organic matter,good drainage, and excellent water-holding capacity. Theseplants respond with vigorous succulent growth when suppliedwith needed ertilizers, moisture, and systematic care.Since these are cool season vegetables, growth is best inthe cool spring and all seasons when supplied with adequatewater and in a humid atmosphere.Mulching should provide a cooler, more uniormly moistsoil, which results in better plant growth. Do not use a flmplastic mulch.
It is recommended that one grow their own transplants.Seeds are planted approximately two months prior to feldtransplanting. Seedlings are transplanted to individual contain-ers about one week later. These plants are grown until theydevelop 5 to 6 leaves, have a stem diameter one-hal the sizeo a pencil or larger. They may be set in the garden rom lateFebruary to mid-March depending upon weather and locationin Oklahoma.Plants o each o these three crops may be set in thegarden prior to the last rost o the spring season. It is desirableto set the plant and water it with one cup o a starter solution.Prepare a starter solution by dissolving 2 tablespoons o a10-20-10 (or similar) ertilizer in a gallon o water. Allow todissolve at least 4 to 6 hours beore use.It is also a good idea to provide protection rom insectattacks at that time. The most likely insect problem would becutworms. Inormation on the control o cutworms is given inFact Sheet F-7313.Following planting and establishment, it is desirable tomulch the soil around these plants. They are usually set 18inches apart in the row with rows two to our eet apart, depend-ing upon methods o cultivation. Size and weight o cabbageheads will usually be less with closer spacing o plants in therow. Mulching is provided as a means o controlling grass andweeds, retaining soil moisture, and to allow the soil to remaincooler and encourage the development o a more extensiveroot system.O the three crops, cauliower is the more difcult togrow ollowed by broccoli and cabbage in that order. Thereis more similarity between broccoli and cabbage with regardsto culture. Cauliower is more sensitive to a dry soil and touctuating temperatures.As the plants develop in the season, it may be necessaryto apply additional nitrogen ertilizer to stimulate leay growth.Plants should be checked requently to be assured that insectproblems are not getting out o hand.Four insects that may cause the most problems duringthe growing season are: the cabbage looper, the importedcabbage worm, the Harlequin bug, and aphids. Fact SheetF-7313 provides recommended controls.Since the quality o these crops is associated with matura-tion during the cool part o the spring season, it is extremelyimportant to keep the plants growing luxuriantly during thisseason. One may determine the stage o development thatis acceptable or harvest by dierent crops. For cabbage,check the frmness o the head and cut it when it reaches thesize and frmness that is acceptable or you. This may varydepending upon the quantity o cabbage that you might havecoming on at a given season. In the event much o the cropappears to be reaching maturity at the same time, it may bedesirable to begin harvest a bit earlier than usual in order toavoid having an excess amount o material during the peako the harvest season.With regards to broccoli, the plant develops a sizable stemand head and should be harvested as the head increases insize to the point where the very earliest o the buds on thehead open to show the yellow ower petals. At the time oharvesting, cut the head with only a short stem, leaving theside branches or harvest at a later time. The lateral brancheson a broccoli plant will develop rapidly ater the terminal orcentral head has been cut. We recommend only varieties thatare branching in habit.The harvesting o cauliower is somewhat similar to theharvesting o cabbage in that the head or curd is allowed todevelop to the size desired or harvesting. The only specifcpoint o dierence is that as the curd begins to develop andreaches a diameter o 11/2 or 2 inches, it is advisable to pullthe main broad leaves up over the curd and tie them togetherto protect the curd rom direct sunlight. I the curd is allowedto develop and be exposed to direct sunlight, it usually
Growing Broccoli, CauliIower,and Cabbage
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service