In the fall we grow a selection of cole crops for harvesting in the fall and winter. Cole crops are cool-season vegetables that can be grown in cooler temperature of the fall, winter and spring. Typically they need to be planted on a schedule where they can either be planted to mature before temperatures get too hot in the spring or planted where they can be harvest after the weather has cooled off in the fall and winter.
“Cole crops” is the common name for this group of vegetables derived from the Old English name for cabbage taken from the Latin word ‘caulis‘. They are descendants of wild cabbage originally found in southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Cole crops have eight groups of vegetables that include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard and kohlrabi.
All planting schedules below are for Arkansas and should be adjusted earlier or later depending on your location.
In the fall we grow cole crops in J6 6-pack trays and in our #4 round pot Peace Farm trays. You can learn more about our container sizes here.
Broccoli is a fairly easy crop to manage. It shouldn’t be grown in soil that has recently been fertilized because too rampant growth will ensue. Ground that has been given good fertilizer the prior year will be great for growling Broccoli. If possible, the ground should be plowed far enough in advance of planting so that it becomes thoroughly settled by planting time.
Broccoli can be grown from seed or transplants. For spring crops, plant transplants in February or March. For fall crops, sow seed directly in the garden the first week of August or plant transplants the first week of September.
Plant 12-15″ part in 36″ rows. Broccoli matures in 55-75 days depending on the variety.
For more information, download this University of Arkansas County Extension Broccoli Home Gardening Series pdf.
Brussels Sprouts produce dozens of little “sprouts” that resemble miniature cabbages. The sprouts are densely packed along the stem between the petioles of the leaves. If left on the plant they would eventually develop into flowering shoots.
Brussels Sprouts flourish in moist, humus enriched soil. Moderately firm soil with good drainage is needed. Brussels Sprouts aren’t as frost hardy as Cabbage. Pluck or snip off the firm sprouts, working up from the base of the plant.
For spring crops, plant transplants in February or March. For fall crops, sow seed directly in the garden the first week of August or plant transplants the first week of September. Brussel Sprouts grow best when planted in the last summer for late fall or early winter harvest.
Plant 24″ part in 24-30″ rows. Brussel Sprouts mature between 90-95 days depending on the variety.
For more information, download this University of Arkansas County Extension Brussel Sprouts Home Gardening Series pdf.
Cabbages prefer cooler weather and will survive light frost. They can be grown in regular garden soil that is fertile and enriched with humus. Light, sandy soil is good for early crops. Experienced gardeners usually plant 2 or 3 varieties that mature in sequence to provide a succession of heads. Be careful, however, not to set out too many plants because heads go out of prime eating condition pretty fast.
In the spring, plant transplants early enough so that they mature before it gets too hot. That is generally sometime January to early March or six to seven weeks before before the last hard freeze. In the fall they have to be planted in the summer while it’s still hot. Time your planting so that the cabbage develops its head during the cooler fall temperature.
Plant 12″ apart in 36″ rows. Water the transplants right after planting. Cultivate very shallow every couple of weeks to keep weeds down. Cabbage uses a lot of the nourishment from the soil, so a 5-10-5 fertilizer should be dusted between the rows a month after planting at 25 lbs. per 1,000 sq. feet then watered in well.
Be sure to download the University of Arkansas County Extension Cabbage Home Gardening Series pdf to get more specifics regarding growing cabbages.
We grow Cheers, Early Jersey, Flat Dutch and Red Cabbage.
Cheers Cabbage is a large-sized hybrid cabbage with good disease resistance. It is vigorous and produces uniform, large framed plants. The plants have good wrap leaves. The heads are blue-green in color and round with a short core. A short core means that more of the head of cabbage is available for use. Heads weigh 4.5-5 pounds.
Cheers matures in 80 days. Add 10-15 days if direct seeding.
Early Jersey Cabbage
Early Jersey Cabbage is dark green with a conical head. Heads are around 5″ wide and weigh around 3 lbs.
Early Jersey matures in 62 days. Add 10-15 days if direct seeding.
Flat Dutch Cabbage
Flat Dutch Cabbage has a flat head weighing in at 6-8 lbs and around 11 inches in diameter. Heads are flat round and dark green in color. It is a popular home garden variety.
Flat Dutch matures in 88 days. Add 10-15 days if direct seeding.
Red Cabbages are easily identified by their grey-green foliage and purple stems when the plants are young. Heads mature to a reddish-purple color and are round. Cabbages weigh 3-5 lbs.
Red Cabbage matures in 75-85 days. Add 10-15 days if direct seeding.
Cauliflower has a large, flat, central clusters of white flower buds called curds. The inner leaves on some kinds curve inwards to cover and blanch the curd. On others, the outer leaves need to be tied together to protect the curd from the sun or else it may turn an unattractive brownish-green color.
Cauliflower need a long, cool growing season with an abundant amount of water and rich, fertile soil. They do best from planting transplants. In the fall, plant them at the same time you plant cabbage so that the head develops during the cooler fall temperatures. Cauliflowers are more sensitive to the heat and cold than other cole crops making it a little more difficult to grow.
Cauliflower should be harvested when the flower buds are small and the head is smooth. Cut just below the head. Days to maturity range is between 60-80 for most varieties.
Plant 18-24″ apart in rows spaced 24-36″. Use the wider spacing in fall plantings.
For more information, download this University of Arkansas County Extension Cauliflower Home Gardening Series pdf.
Collards are a southern favorite! They have blue-green leaves with white veins or ribs. The green’s flavor is a mild cabbage-like flavor that gets sweeter after a light fall frost. Collards can take the heat but cooler weather really brings out the flavor. For this reason, fall collards tend to be more popular but they can also be planted for spring harvest.
Collards do better in warm weather and can tolerate more cold weather then other cole crops. Plant in early spring for summer harvest. Plant in mid to late summer for fall and early winter harvest. For early spring or early fall plantings, use transplants.
Plant 6-12″ apart in 36″ rows. Matures in 70-80 days.
For more information, download this University of Arkansas County Extension Collards Home Gardening Series pdf.
Kale is member of the cabbage family, but does not produce a head like cabbage does. They are cold hardy vegetables grown for their greens. Kale is full of vitamins and grown for it’s healthy attributes. Most varieties of kale have blue-green, tightly wrinkled foliage.
Plant Kale anytime from early spring to early summer. For fall harvesting, plant in late summer into early fall.
Plant 8-12″ apart in 24″ rows. Some varieties may need more space. Matures in 40-55 days.
For more information, download this University of Arkansas County Extension Kale Home Gardening Series pdf.
Pak Choi, aka Bok choy, is a Chinese Cabbage that has dark green leaves with spoon-shaped white stems. The name translates from Chinese to mean soup spoon because the stems are shaped like spoons. Pak Choi has a flavor similar to cabbage and celery, and is used in a variety of Asian dishes. You can steam, sauté, or eat it raw. Add Pak Choi to stir fry, soups, noodle dishes, meat dishes or salads.
Plant 2-3 weeks before last frost date but before the plants are 4-5 weeks old. Hot summer days will will initiate seed-stalk development. It does best in cool weather. Fall production is ideal. Transplant fall crops at the same time as cabbage so that heads can develop in cooler temps.
Plant 12-18″ apart in 36″ rows. Matures in 42-55 days.
For more information, download this University of Arkansas County Extension Chinese Cabbage Home Gardening Series pdf.