Starting Cole Crops Indoors

Don’t start to early, the first of May is the best time to start your cole crops. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts grow best when transplanted directly outdoors three to four weeks after the seed has been planted which will help keep the seedlings from becoming so spindly. Plant in individual plastic pots or in flats in a two-inch square pattern, planting at least two to three seeds together. It is preferred that seeds be started in plastic because peat pots tend not to break down in cold soils which can cause root restriction and possible root damage.

Peat pots are not smooth-sided, and when removed during transplanting can cause root damage. If peat is preferred Jiffy 7's are superior to peat pots because the roots will grow through the mesh. When the seedlings have sprouted, thin out the excess plants, leaving only one plant per pot. Shortly after the seedlings have produced their second pair of leaves and the chance of heavy frost is past, transplant them directly to the garden.

The plants are still small, but research has shown that the reduced shock from planting when they are smaller will result in producing larger vegetables faster. Don’t forget that after the seed has sprouted you need to grow the seedlings where the night temperatures remain between 50 and 55 degrees F. to produce healthy, short, stocky plants.