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When to pull Brassicas ?

 
Posts: 3
Location: Southeast, PA
forest garden fungi
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When do my fellow Northeast US gardeners pull their Broccoli and Collards out of the ground ? I had a great Brassica crop this year but with the consistently hot weather a few of the plants have been afflicted with white flies. Is it worth keeping the Collards or Broccoli in for a second harvest in the fall or better to pull them and rotate in a new crop ? I am on the fence as to whether it's worth fighting these white flies for a second harvest. I am in Southeastern, PA.
 
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Location: Ohio, USA
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Hi!

I'm in Ohio. Got some brassicas. They were pest-heavy earlier. I left them in the ground and messed with the nutrients (turns out they were low in Ca, Mg, and probably Mn), (not uncommon when drought hits heavily leached soils). Once they got the right nutrients and the lady bugs and spiders found my garden, the problem is gone. I would say you COULD pull, and then what? Re-plant or find something else? Or, you could see if something's missing that could solve the problem and be an improvement for the next year's crop. I think that's more a personal choice. Unless they are bolting or really dead, they can still recover, though they will never be as strong as if they never suffered trauma. You can still get seed (if it's heirloom or OP) and they are still acting as a cover crop and good-bug sink.

Good luck!
 
Adam Garcia Gemenis
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Location: Southeast, PA
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All good points. Since this is my first year having good success with broccoli, I wasn't sure if it will continue to yield enough to keep it's spot.  It's Green Sprouting Imperial Calabrese 1880's Italian Heirloom.  I looked it up and many other's have success with this variety through the frost. I'm going to straighten things out and keep them in.
 
Amit Enventres
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Congrats on the good success!

If I were you, from what I see you wrote here, I would keep my best few around to bolt and set seed for the following year and pull the rest, but that's just me.
 
pollinator
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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Like Amit, I'd leave the most successful ones to bolt and save that seed. But I wouldn't pull any. Rather, I'd chop them, either dropping the green where it is or composting it. But I'd definitely leave the roots to break down and add their organic matter to the soil.
 
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Location: Central Oregon Coast Range, valley side
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I became a fan of perennial brassicas.  I have 1 kale plant going on year 4 despite looking totally dead a few times in the dead of winter, lots of kale and a purple sprouting broccoli going on year 3.  Sometimes they die back to the ground and are replaced by a single shoot, sometimes they make a dozen new shoots growing out of their existing stem, come fall rains.   Let them go a few weeks, than remove all the new growth tips but one.  I only pull them if the new sprouts are looking weak compared to the other plants, or the space is needed for a different plant.

I have discovered that my bolting kale tastes great, like as good as sprouting broccoli or any brassica, if I eat it like a broccolini (more stem than leaf or bud.)  I'm sure there are a few conditions here, like.....

I think part of the trick is to harvest the plants by snapping them off, like that one step when prepping cut asparagus for cooking.  If the flowering stalk you tried to snap off is still attached by bendy stringy fibers, grab it closer to the flower and try again.  If it doesn't snap at all and the whole stem crimps, try much closer to the buds.  On the biggest ones I've got 5-6 inches of succulent stem about half inch in diameter, with a clean break, no fibers attached.   Who knew?

Another thing, the first half of spring here often doesn't feel much different than winter...the cool and damp climate probably minimizes the spicy/bitterness. I was surprised to find there is literally zero bitterness or spice in these, because this one time I gobbled down a small bite of raw kale buds, probably about to break open, probably about the month of May.  I think it took 5 or 6 seconds of chewing before it felt about like a mouth full of wasabi.  I haven't tried it raw since.

So cooking is probably key.  I put them in a steamer, over a rolling boil on high heat, and put the lid on.   When the first wisp of steam escapes the lid, set timer for 2 minutes and reduce to low heat.  

Also, I might have lucked out with the seeds I ended up with.  I think it was some Dutch company Kroger was stocking at the time.
 
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