growing cole crops

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by greenacres, Dec 16, 2003.

  1. greenacres

    greenacres Well-Known Member

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    Feb 21, 2003
    Location:
    North Central Texas
    I am in North Central Texas in zone 7b. I am interested in growing things like lettuce and other cole crops. I have never attempted them and was wondering about planting and what varieties are the best. I am trying to add some diversity to our meals. Thanks.
     
  2. LSL

    LSL Member

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    Oct 12, 2003
    HI, I'm in approx. the same growing zone as you over in MS. Cole crops and lettuce are great to grow fall through spring here. Bib, leaf and romaine lettuces do very well. There are many types of coles, and my best advice is to visit your local farmer's co-op or feed/seed store to try what they have. Usually they carry good ones for your area. If you're planning for late winter/early spring you can start your cabbages or broccoli in a protected area (back porch, basement, garage, cold frame) now for good transplants in about 6-8wks. Lettuce is the same, though some direct seed into a prepared bed around late Jan early Feb. I've just found it more reliable to use transplants. It is fun and delicious to have your own available. My lettuce has overwintered well with only a little leaf tip burn (used Grand Rapids) and my broccoli and cabbage love a little frost.
     

  3. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Arkansas
    Hi;

    I am 35 miles south of Tulsa, Ok. Low temp here is around minus ten, but we only get that in bad years. Zero is more ordinary. Ground is sandy, acid.

    Lettuce will sprout on ice; I plant it in Feb., get it up out of the ground and it takes off when warm weather comes, gets bitter when it get hot. I plant a wide row; work the ground up fine, tamp it down with a rake, sprinkle seed on the row, then tamp it again with the rake which will cover some of the seed. Seed bought in bulk, fifty cents worth will be way more than enough of each kind. You'll have to thin rigourously. Black seeded Simpson is the best grower here. Romaine makes wonderful lettuce but is harder for me to get up. I got some head lettuce plants from a friend this year and made great heads, but they all matured at once. The leaf lettuce can stay in the ground until you want it or until it turns bitter.

    Cole Crops: I have good luck with cabbage, chinese cabbage, brussels sprouts broccoli and cauliflower. To grow these in the spring you must start seeds very early and put the plants out as soon as the last frost is gone. If you do not they will not produce before it gets too hot for them. If you can plant them where they get some afternoon shade and if you will keep them watered you can nurse them thru the summer and get a second crop (of a huge first crop) in the fall. Fall plants though are better started in midsummer and allowed to mature in the fall. Fall cauliflower will sometimes get as large as a dinnerplate.
    Ox
     
  4. Oxankle you said you were 35 miles south of Tulsa. I'm 60 miles straight east of Tulsa. Do you really start lettuce and things in the ground in Febuary? I've always waited till April when the weather would finally start warming up before I planted anything. If you don't mind can you tell me step by step how you grow things so early. If it works for you it should work for me.
     
  5. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Jun 20, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    RH;
    about the only things that I plant that early are lettuce, beets and potatos.
    Planting that early is not always the best way, except I think that beets actually do better if the seed is frozen a few times before it sprouts.

    All I do for the lettuce is work up a fine bed about a foot or more wide, tamp it with a rake to leave the impressions of the teeth in the ground (like tread tracks of a dozer on a pond) and scatter the lettuce seed over that rough ground. Tamping it once more will ensure that most of the seed gets covered. The seed will then lie there until a warm, sunny period when it will sprout. It will grow very slowly, but put down roots that will bring it up quickly when the warm weather comes. This usually results in a very thick stand; be sure to thin very severely.

    I plant potatos on Washington's birthday. If they come up and get frozen back they will bounce right back as the weather warms. Planting this early you have to make sure the potatos are in a well drained row; they will rot if cold and wet.

    Beets are planted like lettuce, in a wide row. Again I tamp the row with the rake, holding it vertically and just tamping the row as if I were tamping dirt in a post hole. This results in hundreds of small depressions where each of the teeth of the rack lay flat against the ground. Scatter the beet seed on the row and tamp again. Beet seeds are compound, each "seed" actually being a little cluster of seed, sometimes 4 or 5. Planted early like this the weather will freeze and thaw the seed and bring it up early. Again, if you get a thick stand you will have to thin rigourously.

    I put out onion early too, but generally try to wait until I am pretty sure the last frost is gone. As the old Indian says; "sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't".