Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Making a bed for the Brassicas-Cabbage, Cauliflower, Pak Choi and Radish goes in

My first foray into growing Brassicas was a container of Pak Choi here in Dubai last year. It was unbelievably trouble-free and just kept coming and coming as a cut and come again crop. It was ready to harvest within 60 days of germination, by the first week of December and given some shade didn't bolt until almost the end of April. In the end, I was almost sick of it. So I figure that growing other Brassicas shouldn't be too hard either. However, Pak Choi is an open headed cabbage and free of the intricacies of growing a perfect round, tightly wrapped white cabbage or a creamy white cauliflower head.

Cabbages I picked up in Sharjah plant souk to see how they develop

The abundant, lush Pak Choi from last season
Brave or foolish, here's how I am going about growing Pak Choi, radish, cauliflower and white cabbage.

Preparing the soil
Brassicas are very hungry feeders and need lots and lots of nutrients and moisture-retaining humus for healthy growth. Prepare your soil by adding lots of compost/well-rotted manure. During growth, especially as heads begin to form, top up with more compost or feed with a good, all-purpose liquid feed.

Start cabbage and cauliflower in seed trays filled with 50:50 compost and potting soil. Direct sow the  Pak Choi and radishes. You can also put cabbage and cauliflower directly into the soil. But I just find that sowing in seed trays gives me more time to think about final planting spot, spacing etc. Make sure they are well watered, at least once every day and get a minimum of two hours of sunlight.

The seeds I am sowing

Plant the seedlings with at least 8-12 inches between plants and rows in soil that has already been prepared. So I have a rectangular grow bed about 3.5 feet x 3 feet. I will have a row of cauliflower  a row of cabbages and another of Pak Choi, all with eight inches between plants and about a foot between rows. For fun and quicker gratification, I am going to throw in a handful of french radish seeds along the edges.

You can use rectangular pots or shallow circular tubs. I find the cosmoplast tubs you can buy in supermarkets quite useful. Just drill a couple of drainage holes in the bottom ad you are all set. The good thing about these is that you don't need tons of soil to fill them all the way up.

A rough idea about how my brassica bed will hopefully look!

In general, I don't like knowing too much about the critters that can destroy your plants. Especially when I am growing them for the first time.  Read more here about the nasties and how to fight them. Arm yourself with cabbage collars, insecticidal soap, Neem oil, a powerful hose, a torch and an inexhaustible will to fight. And if you are squeamish about squishing slugs and caterpillars with your bare hands, well then, good luck to you!


  1. That Pak Choy looks so deep in colour, as though it would be really tasty. You've inspired me to plant some.

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