How to plant brassicas

Growing broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage
  • Over the next couple of weeks it’s time to get your first crop of brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi and collard) in for winter. The soil is still warm and we’re starting to get some rain, ideal conditions to get plants off to a good start.
  • Brassicas like a soil enriched with lots of organic matter. If your soil is low in nutrients, plants will either die or go to seed quickly.
  • Rob adds compost, chicken manure (sheep pellets are also great) and coffee grounds to his garden bed. He also adds Nature’s Organic Fertiliser which has rock dust and seaweed, and is impregnated with bacteria and fungi which will breathe life back into the soil.
  • Brassicas like an alkaline soil, so Rob adds lime to neutralise the coffee grounds, which are slightly acidic. You’d also need to add lime if you’re planting into a bed which has had an acid-loving crop, like tomatoes, in it.
  • Fork it all in, and rake over to make the surface even for planting.
  • Rob suggests always trying a variety of brassica you haven’t grown before, because the wider variety of veges you eat, the healthier you’ll be.
  • Make holes about 30 centimetres apart. Into each hole add 3 or 4 sheep pellets which have been laced with neem oil. Neem repels the white butterfly which attacks brassicas in the warmer months. The seedling takes up the neem in its roots systemically and lasts for about 5-6 weeks. By that stage your plant will be sufficiently big and strong to withstand pests. Pests and diseases attack weak plants.
  • Brassicas like lots of water during the growing season, so once you’ve planted the seedlings, give them a good water.
  • Add mulch to keep the moisture in, and it also adds more carbon matter to the soil and suppresses weeds. Give the plants one last water to bed them in.
  • Then we insert our hoops about a metre apart. See here for how to make hoops. Rob threads string through the loops and ties it firmly.
  • Next, layer netting over the hoops and peg it down to the string. Voila! You’ve created a cloche.


Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes