Tuesday 17 April 2018

Stocking up with Brassicas

Over the last few days I have been busy pricking out a lot of little seedlings, most of which are brassicas of one sort or another - cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts etc. These are destined to be planted out at my Courtmoor Avenue plot in due course. I'm revelling in the feeling of being able to expand my horizons and grow a lot more plants than usual!

I had sowed the brassica seeds quite thickly in a collection of 8-inch pots, and what I have done now is to move them into separate 3.5-inch pots. In the course of doing this I have discarded any that looked weak, but even so I have ended up with about 50 little plants.

I have two different types of green cabbage (Greyhound and Golden Acre), one type of red cabbage (Red Drumhead), one type of cauliflower (All Year Round), two types of Brussels sprout (Cromwell and Evesham Special), and a few of Kaibroc (a hybrid of broccoli and kailaan).

When pricking out young seedlings like this you sometimes find that they have quite long, "leggy" stems, and it makes sense to bury the plants almost up to their first set of leaves. This will provide the plant with greater stability and make it less vulnerable to damage, as well as encouraging it to produce more roots.

A Brussels sprout seedling, buried up to the level of its first pair of leaves

The green cabbages will hopefully mature by early Summer, to be followed by the red cabbage and sprouts in the Autumn, and the cauliflower in late Autumn or early Winter. The Kaibroc grows much more quickly and I hope to be able to harvest some by late May or early June.

While I was in the mood I also pricked out some of the Leeks - though not all of them because this is a fiddly and time-consuming job!

Leek seedlings prior to pricking out.

Leek seedlings moved to individual pots

I still have a load of onions to do as well, but I'm not sure whether I should prick these out into individual modules, or just plant them out direct. What would you recommend?

Onions "Ailsa Craig"

Over the last week or so lots more of my shallots have sprung into life. I said previously that I would be happy if as few as 15 of my 45 shallots sprouted, so I'm very pleased to be able to report that so far the tally is 24. The others may well follow, I think.

Here's a view of all (no, most) of my seedlings. Do you think I'll have enough?

Now that this lot is sorted out for now, I really must get round to sowing more seeds. I didn't want to do this before our short holiday in Seville, but now that we're back I want to sow Parsnips, Beetroot and beans of various sorts, and before long it will be time to do the cucumbers and squashes. This is the busiest time of year in the garden!


  1. how long before you plant them in the garden?

    1. Maybe 3 weeks or so? It depends on how quickly they grow - and the weather will play a big part in that!

  2. What did you do with the onions in the end Mark?
    I'm trying some of Charles Dowding's multi sowing in modules.So far the Zebrune and Italian Red onions seem to be the best (about 5 to 6 per module then sown as a clump).
    Not sure about his advice to sow a similar number of beetroot "seeds" per module,as one seems to produce a number of plantlets anyway.
    I found your post as I'm having trouble with my brassica plantlets which I pricked out into individual modles but have suffered from the unusually high temperature up here in N Lancs recently.Moved everything outside under a shade cover yesterday and hopefully todays rain will perk things up!

    1. As ever, I hedged my bets - I pricked out 48 of the onions into individual pots and subsequently planted these as my main crop. The others were planted wherever I could find spaces (e.g. row-ends) in clumps. Most of my brassicas are looking good now, apart from the Kaibroc, which were all lost to Cabbage Root Fly!


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