The garden is an important part of my life. It’s important to my daily sustenance and my health. It’s so much a part of me that I really don’t think I could be happy without it.
Nonetheless, as with anyone — there is only so much time, energy and priority you can give your garden because there are other things that have to be done.
A Plan is Important
So you have to have a plan about what you will grow and how much of it you will grow. There has to be some determining factors for you to make your decisions. And you will probably adjust those factors every season since life can be continual change.
The determining factors I use can be summed up in 3 words: return on investment (ROI). Since the seed cost is minimal by comparison— I’m talking about the investment of time, energy, and garden space.
Your Determining Factors – Consider what growing the crop involves:
- choosing and ordering the variety you want
- planning the planting time
- planting and caring for
- transplanting to the garden
- how much space you have available and how much of it this crop will take
- pest control – row covers – hand picking, etc.
- harvest – When and how much time will it take?
- Can you preserve the crop? Will you be able to use it all if you can’t?
- What have you sacrificed (in terms of your other crops) to grow it.
Making the Determination about Cabbage and Broccoli in My Garden
I don’t usually grow cabbage or broccoli. I did this year. Here’s what happened.
A lady I know in Pennsylvania grows about 6 cabbages each year and they always look so beautiful in her tiny garden. She uses something like a rabbit wire or fencing and bends it over the cabbages securing it in the ground. Her row cover fabric goes over that. (I think this is the best method of pest control for both cabbage and broccoli.) Looked so easy and so good in her garden.
I wanted to grow the ones she did, but she had purchased her plants at a nursery and had forgotten the name of the variety.
I choose 2 heirloom varieties (one early and one late) that would be smaller than many cabbages — thinking that I would have plenty of room for them. I started about 5 seedlings of each on February 3rd. I transplanted to the garden the first week in March. (Did the same with broccoli.) Even mixed about 2 or 3 cups of compost with soil before putting them in.
Slugs ate the smaller ones. I put Escargo around the others. That solved that problem.
Somehow, not being a grower of either cabbage or broccoli — I thought they would grow a lot faster than they did. They sat there for about a month before they took off and even then — as with most things — some stayed smaller than others.
I had planted them in beds designated for tomatoes— thinking I’d have plenty of time for them to mature before it’d really made a difference to the tomatoes. I was wrong. By the time the broccoli and cabbage started looking great— I felt the tomatoes were suffering because they didn’t have enough room.
It was May before most of the cabbage and broccoli started looking great and by then I didn’t want to just yank them out.
But the varieties that I had chosen didn’t give me a lot of bang for my buck. More plant than anything else and very small heads. Even though the harvest was only 4 heads of broccoli and about 6 cabbages — it took until the 2nd week in June to plan them into meals and get them out of the garden.
I could have frozen the broccoli — but with that small a planting I wanted to enjoy it fresh. (The fresh tastes far superior to anything you can buy in the store.)
I didn’t use row covers, since the broccoli and cabbage was staggered (wide) so I’d have room to plant the tomato seedlings in May. I lucked out and didn’t have any pest damage on the broccoli at all. Not even one little bug. The cabbage worm finally showed up on the last cabbage I harvested in June.
Bottom line — I won’t grow it again. In short — too much space, time and effort for very little return. Not to mention that without row covers in future years I’m sure I’d have to fight the cabbage worm every step of the way – and for something that is just a delicious tasty once a year treat — it’s not worth it.
I’ll use my garden space and allotted gardening time on crops like onions, tomatoes, peas, blueberries, potatoes, various greens, Hakurei turnips and a few other things that allow me to eat consistently from my garden into the fall and some of the winter months.
Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective and it’s a lot healthier.
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