Planting Broccoli, Cabbage, and Cauliflower

Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are all members of the cabbage family. They are also referred to as cole crops. Vegetables in the cabbage family require cool weather for top production. For example, cauliflower will not head properly in hot weather.

In central Iowa, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower should be planted in mid-April. Setting transplants out earlier in the spring (when temperatures are below 50oF) may lead to poor head development or buttoning. Select young, stocky transplants with 3 to 5 true leaves. Old, large transplants may not head properly. Harden the transplants outdoors in a semi-protected location for a few days prior to planting.

Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower perform best in fertile, moist, well-drained soils. When planting the cole crops, space transplants 18 to 24 inches apart within the row. Rows should be approximately 24 to 30 inches apart. At transplanting, apply 1 pint of a starter fertilizer solution to each plant. A starter fertilizer solution can be prepared by placing 2 tablespoons of a complete analysis fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, in one gallon of water. Two tablespoons of a complete fertilizer may be placed around each plant 4 to 6 weeks after transplanting.

Suggested broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower varieties for Iowa include:

  • Broccoli
    • Green Comet (early)
    • Packman
    • Premium Crop
  • Cabbage
    • Gourmet (early)
    • Stonehead (midseason)
    • Flat Dutch (late)
    • Harris Resistant Danish (late)
  • Cauliflower
    • Early Snowball
    • Snowball 123
    • Snow Crown

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 1992 issue, p. 29.

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