Old King Cole

    • Asparagus will provide you with delicious, low-priced spears for years to come if you plant them now from dormant crowns.
    • Raspberry, blackberry, loganberry, and boysenberry vines should be planted now for delicious, home-grown berries.
    • Prune Hydrangeas now by removing old flower heads down to the first new leaves. Don’t prune stems which have no old flowers, and they will bloom first this summer.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early-blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.
    • Potatoes can be planted this month. Plant red, white, yellow and russet for a variety of uses and flavors.

Old King Cole

Cole is the old English word for cabbage, and if you measure this vegetable’s popularity by the mass consumption of cole slaw, cabbage deserves the status of Old King Cole. Since cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards and others are closely related to cabbage, they are known collectively as Cole Crops.

Two of the most popular cole crops are broccoli and cabbage. Increased interest in healthful foods has made broccoli a regular part of most American diets. And cabbage is one of our most versatile vegetables.

Many types of broccoli can be harvested for 4 to 6 weeks. They produce large heads, which are harvested first, and then many sideshoots which prolong the harvest. Broccoli should be harvested while the buds are blue-green in color and are tightly compressed.

Broccoli is a heavy feeder, so prepare the soil with compost, well-rotted manure or a balanced fertilizer before planting. Space plants 18 inches apart. Set the young plants 1″-2″ deeper then they grew in the pots. Remove weeds around young plants, and keep plants well watered during dry spells.

Cabbages are grown around the world and there are many different kinds to try, from the delicate, loose-leaf Savoy of France to the spicy mustard cabbage of China. Cabbage has a better texture and flavor when grown in enriched soil.

Early cabbages mature in about 60 days from transplanting. Early Jersey Wakefield is a top choice for thin leaves and sweet heads, and Copenhagen Market is also early with 3- to 4-pound heads.

Mid-season varieties hold well in the garden without splitting. Red Acre is an excellent red cabbage. Heads are deep red, globe shaped, 6 to 7 inches in diameter, and they make a colorful addition to the garden landscape.

Savoy cabbages are mid- to late-season producing. They have very tender, crinkled, mild-tasting leaves on a loose head. Their flexible leaves are good for cabbage rolls.

Late cabbage has very tight heads making it especially easy to prepare coleslaw or sauerkraut. They tolerate night temperatures in the 20s, so they’re good for winter gardens.

Cabbage isn’t difficult to grow, and the big payoff is flavor: homegrown crops taste sweeter than those sold in markets. Cabbage is undaunted by frost, and hardy kinds can withstand snow.

Other cole crops include Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage, which grow best as a fall crops, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard, mizuna, kohlrabi and turnips. All like to grow in cool weather, so the time to plant them is now.

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