End of Season Review - Brassicas - Part 1
Yes, I’m very tardy in reviewing my veg – 2015 was one of those years.
I thought I would start my veg specific end of season reviews with the brassicas. This was a strange year for brassicas – many were a flop while others shone. Since I prefer to get the bad news out of the way first, I decided to do my first review on those brassicas that didn’t have a particularly good year.
Collards & Kale
All of the collards and kale and some of the Chinese greens were situated in Bed #8, which was found to be overrun with willow roots during the course of the summer. This little disaster so completely overrode any other factor, that there is little to say on the crops grown in that bed. The willow was cut down and I applied a good quantity of compost to the bed in August. Hopefully it recovers enough to be of use next year, perhaps as a legume bed.
|Bed #8, just before pulling everything up|
The collards were especially pathetic, giving us just over 1/2 pound of leaves from four plants (right side of the photo above)...and that's after waiting 3.5 months for that one and only harvest.
Last year, I transplanted the collards 2 weeks later, started picking leaves on June 1st and harvested 3,421 grams (7.54 pounds) from just 3 plants - a night and day difference.
The kale did slightly better than the collards and we were at least able to harvest several meals worth of greens:
The Chinese greens were a mixed bag of results.
Of those grown in bed #8, only the tatsoi produced anywhere near a decent harvest. The Mei Qing was a total failure with zero harvestable leaves. You’ll notice the “n/a” under the Kai Lan as well. My notes indicated that I did transplant a bunch of seedlings but I have no idea what happened to them. All I know is that I didn’t get a harvest.
I also learned a valuable lesson when I did my fall sowing of brassicas in bed #7: Cover the seedlings as soon as they are planted. I left the bed uncovered for about a week after transplanting thinking the 1” tall plants were too small for cabbage whites to land on, much less lay eggs. Yeah, completely wrong on that front. I was picking caterpillars off the leaves for the rest of the season & their damage significantly reduced the harvest.
|I tried to keep up with the cabbage worms,|
but ended up losing a good chunk of the choy crop
The Chinese green newcomer that impressed me the most this year was the mizuna – it was outstanding!
|The fall planting of mizuna kept producing until extended sub zero|
temps and snow finally did in the unprotected patch in late December
Tatsoi was another newcomer and I had fairly good success with both the spring and fall planting:
|Large tatsoi's harvested in November|
Another brassica with lackluster performance was the rapini.
|Fall harvest of Zamboni rapini|
Last year I harvested almost twice as much per square foot. Neither planting was in bed #8, so that wasn't a factor. I'm thinking they were perhaps a bit shaded by neighboring plants or they needed more water than they were getting.
Overall Impressions & Plan for Next Year
It was a tough year for all of the brassicas in this post, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Problems, both expected and unexpected, arise every year and you do what you can to deal with them. Sometimes you meet with success while other times you decide to cut your losses, pull everything up and call it a day. As with many other crops that didn't flourish this year, I learned a few lessons and am hopeful for much better results next season.
For 2016, I’m not planning any changes in culture. I’ll likely do a bit of refining here and there, but that’s about it. I will give a fall sowing of choy another try, but if I still have aphid issues, I may discontinue that in the future.
As for varieties, I’ll be sticking with all those that I already grow for the most part. I would like to replace the NCK kale (an off-type kale that was supposed to be a curly kale), which everyone seems to think most closely resembles Siberian kale. I’m hoping to include a "proper" Siberian kale in the garden next year. In addition, Dave's post on growing mixed kale has me intrigued. I really enjoy salads with baby kale so may give this a go as well.