President George H W Bush made broccoli - cruciferous vegetables famous

Cruciferous vegetables in the brassica family are keto friendly vegetables, full of good nutrition. They are familiar to all of us and they were popular with our grandparents. They are commonly called cole crops.

They are just as good for us today. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. Plus, they are noted for helping in the prevention of cancer. You can't go wrong with these tasty, healthy vegetables.

  • These keto friendly vegetables include; arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radishes, turnips, wasabi and watercress.

They are cool season vegetables grown in the spring and fall. The seeds may be started inside about six weeks before transplanting the seedlings into the garden. Plant the fall crops in the garden in the late summer.

They tolerate frost and in fact many people say some frost improves their flavor. In moderate climates they are grown into the wintertime.

  • Their name crucifer comes from their four-petaled flowers that look like a cross.


Cruciferous vegetables, photo by betexionCabbage is a favorite cruciferous vegetable
Image by betexion from Pixabay

Planting - You can grow cabbage in most any type of soil. It grow best in the sun. Mix plenty of compost or rotten manure into the planting area.

You can plant the standard green cabbage varieties, purple cabbage or the crinkly, savory cabbage for a variety. You may start the seeds in the house six weeks ahead of time. Two or three weeks before the last spring frost, plant the seedlings into the garden 24 to 30 inches apart.

To get an extended harvest, grow early varieties that harvest in 7 to 8 weeks and the late harvest varieties that take 3 to 4 months to mature.

If you live in cold areas, plant cabbage in midsummer for a fall harvest. If you live in moderate climates, plant it in the fall for a harvest in late fall or winter.

Care - Cabbage is a heavy feeder, so give them a regular applications of organic fertilizer. Plant your cabbages in a different place each year to restrict the buildup of pests.

Do not hoe up close to the cabbage plants, but instead pull the weeds near the plant. The best bet is to mulch the cabbage to prevent weed growth.

The cabbage plants require good watering to prevent the heads from cracking or splitting. Mulch is a good way to retain the moisture for the plants, as well as for weed control.

Harvesting - Harvest the mature cabbage heads by cutting up close to the bottom of the cabbage head.

Leave the stems in the ground. The stems will grow more cabbages, a bit smaller in size but still usable.


Cauliflower is a beautiful cruciferous vegetable. I remember seeing it in the cool humid Salinas Valley of California. The rows of them growing were just beautiful with their white heads peeking out of the green leaves.

Planting - Cauliflower grows best in cool temperatures, so it is a spring or fall crop. In most places of the country plant it in mid to late summer for a fall harvest.

Space the plants about 18 to 20 inches apart and the rows 30 inches apart.

Care - After the small white heads appear in the center of the green leaves, tie the leaves up around the white head. This will keep the head from scorching or discoloring. The cauliflower will grow inside the protection of the green leaves.

Harvesting - Harvest when they reach their full size. You may also want to grow the purple variety of cauliflower for a change.

broccoli, the king of cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli the king of vegetables, image by artverauBroccoli the King of Vegetables
Image by artverau from Pixabay

Broccoli is the king of vegetables. Remember President George H. W. Bush saying that he didn't like broccoli? I think that’s when it became really popular.

Broccoli is easy to grow and it has a long harvest season.

Planting - Broccoli a cool weather vegetable. Grow it in the spring and fall. Plant young plants in the spring about two weeks before the last frost. They will take a light frost just fine, but not a hard freeze.

It grows to about 4 feet tall and what we eat is actually the flower bud that has not opened all the way.

Space the plants about 18 to 20 inches apart and the rows about 30 inches apart.

Care - Broccoli grows best in full sun. It requires regular watering for best growth. A layer of mulch will help control the moisture and keep the weeds down.

Water the plant regularly and apply organic fertilizer a couple of times before the broccoli heads form.

Harvesting - It will grow the broccoli flower in the center of the plant. Harvest it when it is a moderate, compact size. If you wait until it gets too big or the flowers start to open, it won’t taste good.

Cut the flower with about 6 inches of stem and leaves which are also good to eat.

After the center flower is harvested, the side branches will grow and produce another broccoli flower on each branch.

collards and kale

Collards and kale are also members of the cruciferous vegetable family. They stay leafy and they do not form heads.  They can be harvested all summer long.

Planting - Before planting, mix plenty of compost or rotted manure into the planting area. Mix in plenty and they will not need extra feeding during the growing season.

Plant the seeds anytime early to late spring. Plant the young plants about 6 inches apart and the rows 2 feet apart.

Kale can also be planted in the fall, a light frost seems to improve its flavor.

Care - They appreciate even watering. If they go too dry, they don't taste as good. Mulch helps control the moisture.

Don’t hoe the weeds up close to the collard plants because they have shallow roots. It is better option is to mulch them to keep the roots cool and prevent the weeds from growing.

Harvesting - Harvest the outer leaves, but don’t take all the leaves off. Leave some on the plant and the plant will continue to grow. You can continue to harvest leaves throughout the summer.

Collards are a very popular vegetable plant in the south. I would see them in almost every southern garden.

Kale seems to be a cruciferous vegetable the Yankees grow, but it is just as delicious and nutritious.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are an interesting cruciferous vegetable that will amaze your children. They look like tiny cabbages that grow up and down the entire stock of the plant.

Planting - Plant the seeds in your garden in April or young plants into your garden in June or July. Space the plants about 18 to 24 inches apart and the rows 3 feet apart.

Care - Brussels sprouts require fertilizing about every two weeks. Use composted manure or organic fertilizer. Fish emulsion is a good organic fertilizer.

The little cabbages will grow up and down the entire stock of the plant. One plant will produce 50 to 100 little Brussels sprouts.

A little Brussels sprout is produced at the base of each leaf. After the little sprout is growing, carefully break off the leaf from below the sprout. The sprout will continue to grow.

Brussels sprouts a crucifer veggieBrussels Sprouts
Image by Skitterphoto from Pixabay

Harvesting - Start harvesting the sprouts from the bottom of the stock. As the Brussels sprouts mature up the stem, continue to harvesting up the stem.

organic pest control for crucifers

One thing that may bother your cole crops is the cabbage worm. If your plants are troubled by cabbage worms, you have three options.

  1. Bacillus thuringiensis is a bacteria that lives in the soil. Cabbage worms don't like it. It’s naturally safe to spray on the cruciferous vegetables about every week or two. Always read the label and follow the instructions on any pesticide.

  2. Make a collar out of stiff paper and place it around the stem of the plant. The collar should go 1 inch below the soil and 2 inches above the soil. The cutworms can't figure out how to navigate the collar and your plants are protected.

  3. Plant your cruciferous vegetables in a different place each year. The pests overwintering in the soil won't have an easy time finding your plants.
  • You can't go wrong planting and growing these healthy keto vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are easy to grow and a delight to our palettes.

enjoy your gardening!

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