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Grow Brilliant Brassicas

Bursting with goodness, these hardy no fuss vegetables are brilliant crops to plant in the winter garden. All members of the cabbage family are brassicas.

Many of the family are widely known and grown such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale and cavolo nero. Others such as bok choy, mizuna, mustard, misome, kohl rabi and tatsoi are a little more novel, however just as tasty and very easy to grow.

Get planting or sowing seeds:

If your aim is to harvest within the next few months, it's best to plant seedlings, however if time isn’t an issue, seeds are super easy to grow and all types can be sown now.

Speedy Brassicas

A handful of brassicas are exceptionally quick to grow, these are often referred to as Asian greens and include bok choy, mizuna, mibuna, misome and mustard.

Where to plant

Plant in full sun, in well dug fertile soil. Space larger varieties at least 50cm – 70cm apart, to ensure the crops can fully mature and are not fighting for space, fertiliser and water. Some brassicas do thrive in pots and containers too. Choose the smaller varieties.

Bug watch

Slugs and snails can be an issue - lay plenty of Tui Quash around young plants. Mulch with Tui Pea Straw Mulch to keep the soil warmer and weeds away.


  • Non heading of broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco – plants produce loads of leaves and no crop. This is generally an issue with too much nitrogen fertiliser, which can happen when animal manures are used solely to fertilise vegetable gardens. Crops like tomatoes, corn, and these brassicas need potassium and phosphorus to form the head, use Tui Vegetable Food.
  • Brussel sprouts get sweeter and tastier with each frost, so don’t fret if there’s a heavy frost! Harvest from the bottom of the trunk first and store in the fridge for a few weeks.
  • Harvest broccoli and cauliflower when the heads are still tight, once they start spreading they lose flavour. Cut off the head before you pull out the root, otherwise you could end up with dirt all through the head! If you leave the plant in new, smaller heads will appear in a few weeks below the first one and continue to sprout for the rest of the season.
  • Pick leaves from leafy varieties of brassicas like cavolo nero as required, the plant will keep producing leaves throughout the season.
  • Bok choi and similar brassicas will often regrow if you cut off at ground level with a sharp knife but it won’t be as sweet.

The best of Brassicas:

  • Broccoflower - a neat cross between broccoli and cauliflower, this tasty gem looks like cauliflower but tastes like broccoli.
  • Broccoli - look for Green Dragon as the stalwart, for something a little different try Side Sprouter or purple sprouting broccoli.
  • Cabbages - the small growing Little Cutie is perfect for pots, Savoy suits Asian inspired dishes, whereas Dutch Red has a neat, compact, super tight habit and holds its shape for months.
  • Cauliflower - lovers will be drawn to White Cloud, with its pillow like florets it’s a winner selected by many. Violet is a neat one to try with its bold pink violet heads add to its appeal
  • Cavalo Nero – the Pineapple Cabbage's upright habit takes up little space and what’s even better is you can harvest a few leaves at a time and more leaves re-grow. It produces a marathon of greens for up to six months of the year.
  • Tatsoi - is a speedy winter green that should be given a spot this autumn. Being a non heading Chinese cabbage, leaves can be plucked individually for salads, or the whole plant can be harvested at once.
  • Curly Kale - it's upright habit makes it a fabulous option to blend into flower beds as well as a mainstay in the veggie garden. Red, green and purple varieties are available.
  • Kohlrabi (German turnip) - a useful crop as both the bulb and leaves can be eaten.
  • Mibuna - this Japanese green is a popular choice for those who enjoy a less demanding crop.
  • Mizuna - probably the speediest crops you can ever grow, ready to harvest within a matter of weeks.
  • Brussels sprouts - these brassicas are the exception to the rule, they need to be sown and planted in summer and autumn, as they have such a long growing time, it's too late to plant now to expect a decent harvest within the growing season.

By Rachel Vogan

When should I plant
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Harvest in 60-120 Days

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Grow Brilliant Brassicas Comments

  • Love the little sprouts that appear after i take off the large brocoli head. These have a lovely flavour and provide greens for several weeks. Also tried Broccolini. Stalks taste like asparagus.

    Pat Gustafson

  • Hi Pat, great to hear, thank you for sharing. We hope you enjoy the rest of winter in your garden :) - Tui Team


  • Broccolini is my favourite and difficult to find so I am growing it for the first time.

    Carol McEwing-Anderson

  • Hi, we grew Broccoli last season. Sadly the stinkbugs enjoyed feasting on them despite being smothered with Derris Dust. Is there a more suitable way to get rid of these pests that kept on coming back?

    Debbie de Beer

    • Hi Debbie, it is always a challenge growing brassica's in the warmer months and trying to keep the bugs at bay. Derris Dust is a suitable control for caterpillars, but not the green vegetable bug, or stink bug. Covering your plants with a fine insect proof mesh helps keep bugs at bay, especially the white cabbage butterfly. Keep your plants actively growing throughout the season with frequent watering, mulching and feeding, apply Tui Seaweed Plant tonic to stimulate growth and help strengthen the cell wall of plants so they are more resistant to pest and disease attack. There are sprays that may be effective, but try a few cultural practices first to see if you can control populations that way.

      Lianne, Tui Team.

  • If you leave the harvested root of a cabbage in the soil and cut a cross in it. You will get 4 smaller cabbages growing from this root. Very sweet.

    Patricia Gustafson

    • Thanks for the great tip Pat, we will try this once our cabbages have been harvested.


  • We bought Romanesco broccoli plants thinking they were broccoli - they did well and we really love the flavour and the fractals! Plants don't seem to be easily available so will plant seeds. They were planted in autumn when it was still warm but not sure they'll do so well if we plant now though.


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