I live in a cold climate with a short growing season. We can be sort of sure that there will be 90 days in a row without frost but sometimes that doesn’t always happen. So, like most people I plant seedlings of many kinds of vegetable plants to get a head start. But is that really necessary? For tomatoes, peppers and eggplant it is certainly necessary. What about cole crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale? They are tolerant of cooler temperatures and actually do well as our summer comes to an end. Is it safe to direct sow them in my northern Minnesota garden?
Cole crops take up a large amount of space on my starter bench and unlike peppers and tomatoes do not germinate well at higher soil temperatures. They also get leggy very fast under the grow lights. This year I am trying something different. I am direct sowing the seeds of cole crops into the garden. It seems to me that this should work out just fine. After all, no one starts turnips, rutabagas, or radishes, all relatives of cole crops, in little soil-filled pots and these grow to eating size without a problem.
In mid-May I planted seeds of cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli directly into the garden. After watering I spread a thin mulch of hay debris from the sheep’s mangers and watered. The seeds are sprouting now and are in the early seedling stage. I am thinking this will work just fine. If the plants need a little extra time to mature I have heavy fabric row covers that can be stretched over their rows to hold in the waning heat of fall.
This summer I’ll see how this experiment turns out. I have two flats of cabbage and broccoli as a backup plan but I doubt they will be needed.