None the less, it is time to get the Fall Garden in the ground! In fact, for most plants it is too late to start from seed, but that is fine as local garden retailers stock a great selection of transplant varieties that are suitable for our vegetable gardens. Follow the label directions for planting. In general, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plants should be spaced about 18 to 24 inches apart; Brussels sprouts need about 24 inches between plants.
So, a fall garden, that means it's time to introduce members of the cruciferous, or cole, family to your veggie patch. Transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage should all be in the ground no later than mid-October.
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are cool-weather crops that need at least six hours of sun daily, but you don't want them to burn up. Because these cool-weather plants may still need to endure some hot sun through October and even into early November, you may want to shade them a bit, especially from the hottest afternoon sun. My little cabbage and broccoli transplants are prospering nicely under a covering of light shade cloth even now.
These vegetables also need well-draining, moist soil and lots of organic matter. Incorporating plenty of compost into the planting area not only will feed the plants, it also will help the soil retain needed moisture to help the plants grow quickly and produce good heads. You also can further enrich the soil with blood meal, cottonseed meal or composted manure. Mulch deeply around the plants to help keep the soil (and plant roots) cool and moist.
Keep an eye out for those cabbage loopers. If you see the light-green worms on your plants, use a good homemade garlic & pepper spray on your cabbage plants to deter pests naturally while at the same time not harming your plants. You can make a spray yourself very easily or buy one at a garden center. If you just cannot get rid of them with the pepper spray apply a product containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or simply pick them off.
We will concentrate a bit on the easiest of the cole family members to grow, that being cabbage. There is such a wide variety of culinary uses for cabbage, coleslaw being my favorite, that I cannot recommend strongly enough that you give growing your own cabbages a try. But keep in mind that many varieties of cabbage can take up to 100 days to reach full maturity, so get them in the ground soon! Note that your cabbage will be ready to be harvest when the heads are firm and about 5-6 inches across. Leave them in the garden too long and they’ll begin to sun scald and split.
Cabbage is available in hundreds of varieties, but green cabbage is the most common in the United States. All types of cabbage can cause gas and abdominal discomfort in some people, especially those with digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome. If this is a concern, talk to your doctor about ways to include cabbage in your diet.
A single cup of raw, shredded cabbage provides 34 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for adult women and nearly 29 percent of the RDA of vitamin C for men. Vitamin C helps support the health of the skin, blood vessels, teeth and bones. As an antioxidant, it can inhibit the ability of free radical compounds to damage cellular tissue and DNA. Eating plenty of vitamin C-rich foods like cabbage may decrease your risk of hypertension, heart disease, cancer and osteoarthritis. Vitamin C degrades rapidly when it is exposed to water, light, heat and air. Maximize the amount you receive by storing cabbage in a cool, dark place and using it within three to four days of purchase. Slice cabbage only just before eating and avoid boiling as a preparation method. Instead, eat cabbage raw, slightly sautéed or steamed.
Shredded, cooked cabbage contains 68 percent of the required daily intake of vitamin K for men and 90 percent of the RDA of vitamin K for women in every 1/2-cup serving. Vitamin K plays a vital role in proper blood clotting and in helping maintain bone strength. If your diet lacks adequate vitamin K, you may be more likely to develop osteoporosis or to bleed excessively when injured. Vitamin K is fat-soluble and cannot be absorbed by the intestines unless it is accompanied by a source of dietary fat. Try serving steamed cabbage with grilled chicken or lean steak, or tossing shredded cabbage with an olive oil-based dressing and seasonings to make a warm slaw.