Veggie Families – The Cabbage Family

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts

The cabbage family has a formal name that is difficult to pronounce and to spell.  It will probably get rejected by spell check, but I assure you that it is correct.  It is brassicaceae!

This veggie family includes many annuals and two perennials.  As for the annuals which have to be planted each year, the following are the members:  brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, pak choi (bok choy), tatsoi, collards, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnip, radish, mustard.  These annuals are typically grown in the Spring and Fall.  The perennial members include horseradish and watercress.


While many of the plants in this family prefer the cool weather, the flavor of some is improved by harvesting in the cool weather.  For example, folks say that the flavors of kale and brussels sprouts improve when harvested in the Fall.

For the different members of the cabbage family there are different parts of the plant that are eaten.  For example, the blooms are eaten for brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, the leaves are eaten for cabbage, kale and tatsoi and the roots of turnips, radish and rutabaga are eaten.

I like to grow various member of the cabbage family but I have not even attempted to grow the following:  tatsoi, collards, mustard and horseradish.  I am still obsessed with trying to grow cauliflower which is very challenging!

The bad bugs and diseases love this family.  Here are some to look out for. . .The bad bugs include cabbage worms, flea beetles and root maggots.  If you click on cabbage worms, you will see a post that I did on this “red alert” or bad bug.  I’ve had experience dealing with this pest.  As for diseases, watch out for black leg, wilt,  black rot.  Thank goodness these diseases have not attacked my garden!

This family enjoys liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer which  I just started using this past Fall with success.  Just a warning – it is a bit stinky!

Here are some additional tips:  Water the plants from the soil line with soaker hoses, use light weight covers to keep out the bugs when you first sow the seeds or transplant seedlings,  rotate your veggie plants and interplant this family with good companions.  As for the light weight covers, I keep them on the plant until it reaches the top of the cover.  I have found that the bad bugs prefer the younger plants better.


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