What’s a brassica?
You’ve heard me talk about brassicas, so maybe you’re wondering what on earth is a brassica? Well, brassicas are a family of plants that are known for being cold-hardy and high in nutrition.
They are also known as cruciferous plants. That’s because when they first sprout, their first two leaves (called cotyledons or seed leaves) are lobed. So the seedling looks a bit like a four-leafed clover or a rounded cross. Brassicas include:
- Brussel sprouts
A powerhouse of nutrtition
Brassicas are part of the “green leafy vegetables” family of foods that doctors and health nuts are always telling you that you should eat plenty of. That’s because they are rich in vitamin A and C and minerals like selenium, calcium and potassium. They help ensure a healthy heart and eyes. They may help prevent strokes and cancer.
Easy to grow and long-storing
Since they are cold-hardy, brassicas are one of the first things to go into the garden and the last thing to come out. You can get them out into your garden a full three weeks before your last frost date. And they will continue growing into the fall throughout October and even into November.
They are about the easiest crop to grow. Of course, you can buy cabbage and broccoli plants already started at the garden center. But why would you when you can so easily start them from seed? They are one of the quickest to germinate–usually in less than a week. I get about a 90% germination rate from the seed and about 90% of those make it to full grown plant. I don’t get that kind of success rate with many other plants.
Not only are they easy to grow and sturdy plants, they will also store a long time after harvest. Brussel sprouts, cabbage and kohlrabi will store for weeks in a cool basement or refrigerator. Broccoli is easy to freeze. Cabbage is super easy to preserve as sauerkraut.
After you’ve made all the cole slaw and broccoli soups and salads that you can stand, there’s still so much more you can do with brassicas. These are just a few of the recipes that I’ve compiled for you:
- Caldo verde soup
- Sauerkraut soup
- Kohrabi fritters, salad and more
- Kale chips (you’re going to LOVE these!)
I’m sure that you will fall in love with the many vegetables in the brassica family. I hope they become a staple in your garden.