Growing Cool Cole Crops

The Brassica family, or cole crops, includes a lot of cool seasons and leafy green vegetables like mustards, broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, and even bok choy. Many of these vegetables require a long season to mature, which means we put them out in the chill of spring and wait for the chill of fall to sweeten them for harvest. It also means more time for things to go wrong in the garden, like cabbage worms, and root rot.

  • 01 of 09

    Asian Greens

    Muzuna, an Asian Green
    © Marie Iannotti

    You might not think of greens like mizuna, bok choi, or tatsoi as cole crops, but they are. They are also just as easy to grow - if not easier - than the more common cole crops like broccoli and cauliflower. Many are quick growers, too. Which means you can succession plant them and have a continual harvest.

  • 02 of 09


    Broccoli F1 'Blue Wind' (Brassica oleracea)
    Photo: © National Garden Bureau, Inc. Used with Permission.

    Remember when people turned up their noses at the idea of eating broccoli? We've certainly come a long way since then.

    Generally, you get one large head from a plant and then lots of smaller side shoots. So you can plant your broccoli early in spring and plan to harvest for months.

  • 03 of 09

    Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels Sprouts Stem
    Photo: Morten Strunge Meyer

    Brussels sprouts got a bad reputation because we used to cook the sweetness out of them. They don't even need to be cooked if you harvest them young enough. The plants are very obliging, maturing from the bottom of the stem up so that you can harvest over several weeks.

  • 04 of 09


    How to Grow Cabbage
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    There is something very satisfying in watching a head of cabbage plump up and flop over, telling you it's time to harvest. There's more to cabbage than coleslaw, and there are plenty of different cabbages to choose from.

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  • 05 of 09


    Cauliflower Head
    Photo: queryamit queryamit

    It's not the easiest vegetable to grow, which makes it all the more rewarding. Besides the insects that love cauliflower as much as we do, you'll also have to blanch the heads, to keep them creamy white. Of course, you could always choose to grow one of the purple or orange cauliflowers instead. They're just as easy to grow and pack a few more nutritional benefits.

  • 06 of 09

    Collard Greens

    Collard Greens
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    This traditional Southern cooking green can actually be grown just about anywhere. These are large, vibrant plants that can be used as cut-and-come-again. The more you harvest the outer leaves, the more the plant will grow new succulent leaves.

  • 07 of 09


    How to Grow Red Russian Kale
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    Kale is cabbage's ​lesser-known cousin, but it may be even more versatile than cabbage. There's a lot of variety in kale. Some are curly and bitter, other tender and mellow. They hold their texture when cooked and don't produce as much of a sulfur scent. They all benefit from some cool weather and even a touch of frost, so they're great additions to the fall garden.

  • 08 of 09


    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    You may not associate radishes with cabbages or Brussels sprouts, but a quick glance at the leaves or flowers will tell you they are in the cruciferous family. There's a good deal more variety in radishes than you might think. They come in red, white, black and colors in between. They can be round or long and tapered. Plump or icicle thin. There are even radishes that aren't grown for their roots at all. Edible podded radishes, like Rat Tailed radish

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  • 09 of 09

    Cool Season Vegetable Gardening: Fall and Winter Greens & Reds & More

    Cabbage underplanted with Swiss chard.
    © Marie Iannotti

    Cathy Wilkinson Barash, for the National Garden Bureau, argues that there's always a little space in the garden for a fall into winter crop of vegetables.  Her reds and greens include chard, kale, and for pizzazz, broccoli raab, tatsoi, pac choi, bok choy, and more.