What are Cole Crops

Planting Cole crops

Cole Crops are vegetables that belong to the brassica family: Kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, and Asian cabbage.  They are cool-season crops, but here in the south, they can also be grown in the spring.  To ensure that these crops produce and have minimal problems make sure you plant the proper varieties at the ideal time.

Just because they all belong to the same family does not mean that they are as equally easy or difficult to grow. From this list, kale, cabbage and broccoli are the easiest to grow.  Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are slightly harder, with Asian cabbages, kohlrabi, collards, and kale being more intermediate. 

Weeks before planting work 4-6” of organic matter into the dirt.  Allow this to sit for a couple weeks before planting.  This will help to ensure the organic matter is decomposing and releasing nutrients into the soil.  After the worked ground has had time to rest, add an all-purpose fertilizer and work into the top 2” of the soil.  This will give your crops the necessary nutrients to thrive.

Plant cole crops in full sun. These crops prefer sandy loam soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5.  Planting in a space with pH lower than 6.0 will drastically reduce your yields.  Have you ever planted broccoli, and it did not form a head?  Lack of sun and improper pH could be the reason why.

Direct seeding works with these crops, but transplants are preferred.  Transplants allow you to get the proper spacing between the plants.  Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale are spaced 16” apart.  If you crowd broccoli by planting it too close, you will limit the size of the initial head and production of side shoots.  Cauliflower and Cabbage need 24” spacing.  Collards need around 12” spacing while kohlrabi needs the least amount of space, 7” between plants.

Keep the soil moist but never waterlogged.  Mulch will help reduce the weeds, regulate soil temperature, and reduce the amount of water needed because it will help keep the ground moist.  

After harvesting, if practicing crop rotation follow cole crops with legumes.  This will help restore the nitrogen that was used by the cole crops.


·       Companions- beets,dill,lettuce, onions, tomatoes, turnip, clover, celery, chard, cucumber 

·       Avoid- tomatoes, strawberries, pole beans, peppers or mustards


·       Companions- beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprout, celery, chard, corn, cucumber Spinach,and Asian greens

·       Avoid- Peas, strawberries, tomatoes,


·       Companions- beans, clover, chamomile, dill, cilantro,onions, beets, marigolds, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, tomatoes, scallion

·       Avoid- 

Brussels Sprout

·       Companions- sage, thyme, clover, barley, chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary

·       Avoid- eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes


·       Companions-beets, Brassicas, cucumbers, and onions

·       Avoid-Beans, Peas, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes


·       Companions- chamomille, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage

·       Avoid- Eggplants, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes

Asian greens

·       Companions- beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, marjoram, peas, and strawberries

·       Avoid- parsley


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