Veggie Families – The Cabbage Family


The cabbage family has a formal name that is difficult to pronounce and 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, bok choy (pac choi), tatsoi, collards, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnip, radish and mustard.   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 members of the cabbage family but I have not even attempted to grow the following:  collards 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 of the bad bug to look out for. . . 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.   Unfortunately, I’ve had experience dealing with this pest.  As for diseases, watch out for black leg, wilt and black rot.  Thank goodness these diseases have not attacked my garden!

This family is a heavy feeder of nitrogen and enjoys liquid fish and seaweed fertilizer.  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 or small spaced netting over the hoops to keep out the bugs when you first sow the seeds or transplant seedlings.  I have found that the bad bugs prefer the younger plants better.

I typically grow most of the vegetables in this family in one raised bed and keep the netting on the plants all summer.