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Garden Help/HowTo

Cole Crop Guide

Cole Crop Guide

Cole crops are a group of cool season vegetables. The word "cole" means stem and has nothing to do with the fact that these vegetables are tolerant to the "cold."

Soil Preparation:

  • Cole crops prefer full sun, but can tolerate some shade.
  • They grow better in heavier, cooler soil than warm season crops.
  • Till the soil to remove rocks, roots, weeds and other debris.
  • Add compost or other organic material to the soil to provide these heavy-feeders with a fertile soil.
  • Soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is recommended.


  • Broccoli and cauliflower are a little more sensitive to continued days of cool temperatures (35-50 F) than other cole crops, so don't plant them too early!
  • Space rows 24-36 inches apart; plants should be spaced 12 inches (cabbage) to 18 inches (other cole crops) apart.
  • Before filling up the hole, add a cup of a starter solution of fertilizer (2 teaspoons per gallon of water of soluble fertilizer such as 16-32-16 or 10-45-15).
  • Be sure to mark the plant with your Homegrown Gourmet plant tag so you know what type of plant is growing
  • Crop rotation is important for good production - do not plant a cole crop in the same place that a cole crop was planted the year before. A 2-3 year rotation is best.


  • Water regularly at the roots at least 1 inch per week - more in especially dry, hot periods.
  • The best time of the day to water is in the morning.
  • Avoid splashing water on the foliage.
  • Do not allow soil to dry out.

Supplies Needed:

  • Garden Trowel
  • Garden Hose or Watering Can
  • Compost or other Organic Material
  • Shovel
  • Plants
  • Fertilizer
  • Gardening Gloves


  • Broccoli - While the head is still compact and before the small flower buds open up to show yellow. Head diameter will range from 4-8 inches. After the center head is harvested, side shoots (heads) of 2-3 inches will develop.
  • Cabbage - Cut head from plant when round and firm. If you want to leave mature heads in the ground, use a shovel to sever some of the feeder roots. This will limit the water intake of the plant and reduce the chance of the head splitting.
  • Cauliflower - When the heads reach a diameter of 5 to 8 inches and flowerettes begin to slightly separate. Cool in ice water immediately, then refridgerate.
  • Collards - Start to harvest leaves as soon as the plant reaches 12 inches tall, picking the young, tender leaves from the bottom up. Don't let the leaves get too old or they'll be tough and not as flavorful. When preparing, remove the center vein. Collards freeze well, whole or chopped, after blanching in boiling water for 5 minutes per pound. Store in plastic bags or containers, removing as much air as possible.
  • Kohlrabi - When the swollen stem reaches 2 inches in diameter, cut off at the ground level. Waiting too long can make the kohlrabi tough and woody.

Other Information:


All of these crops can trace their history to a common ancestry of wild cabbage originating in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor area.

Did You Know...

Broccoli and cauliflower are the only vegetables that are also flowers! Also, Ancient Chinese used to eat cabbage to try to cure baldness.

NOTICE: The content diplayed here is for informational purposes only and is provided as is, without any warranty or any guarantee of any kind whatsoever.