Cole Crops for Cool Weather

What can grow at this time of year when it is 29 degrees F. today with wind from the north? As Fall deteriorates, cool weather becomes harder to ignore. But gardeners often gamble and plant a few seeds for the mild shoulder season that we have had so far. 

Cole crops, varieties related to cabbage (Brassica oleracea) such as kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and collards, are often grown as season extenders here.

At Plant Exchange, we planted trays outdoors at the beginning of Fall. We shuffled them into a small plastic greenhouse in October to extend the season. Some years, the leaves resemble Swiss cheese from cabbageworm caterpillars. 

After about three weeks in the greenhouse, it’s 66 degrees there today. We use a space heater at night. Tonight: 15 degrees. We water the plants but keep humidity low to deter fungal growth. 

The Iowa State Extension and Outreach have an online article for suggestions of specific Cole crop varieties for this region to plant outdoors. We grew a couple of varieties from Johnny’s Seed for the first time: kale and collards.

‘Winterbor’ Kale F1 grew faster than the collards, has been harvested once by trimming with scissors, and is ready again. The kale is quite mild-flavored for salads.

Collards F1 have been harvested once and are also mild-flavored when steamed and seasoned with vinegar.

Additional to the Cole crops, five variety greenhouse lettuce is ready to harvest.

We started seeds of Genouse basil and may continue them under a grow light indoors in all grows well. These plants are growing well for fresh greens and a bit of garden interest.

Brussels Sprouts are an option among the Cole crops in season at the grocery store to enjoy. Happy week!

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