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Cabbages

Cabbage

Description

If you’ve ever endured eating overcooked boiled cabbage, you’ll enjoy finding better ways to use the tender, homegrown version, especially if you experiment with the many interesting varieties available. There are early, midseason, and late varieties; round, conical, or flat-head types; smooth leaves or savoyed (crinkled) foliage; and colors ranging from yellow green to blue green, deep green, or purplish red. Each has a distinct flavor, with the red types being among the most sweet.

Harvest Tips

Once a head is full size and firm when you squeeze it, cut it off near ground level with a sharp knife. If left too long in the garden, the head may split. After the main head is harvested allow the stub to regrow. Often it will form several smaller heads that you can harvest later in the season.

Uses

Use homegrown cabbage fresh. Shred and add by the handful to mixed salads. When it’s young and tender, it has a more mild flavor. Use it in classic or innovative slaws, too, and you’ll find them a treat. Try stuffing large leaves. And, of course, you can always cook them, pickle them, or even make sauerkraut.

Brussel Sprouts

Description

If you’ve never had homegrown Brussels sprouts, you’re in for a treat. They’re smaller than those found in the supermarket, with a sweeter, more nutty flavor that’s utterly delicious. Brussels sprout plants have thick, trunk-like stalks that grow 2-3 feet long, studded up and down with the edible sprouts, which look like baby cabbages. Each stalk may produce 50-100 sprouts. It is a slow-growing vegetable that requires 90 days or more to reach maturity. Wait until after a few frosts to harvest. They’ll be much milder-flavored and sweeter.

Harvest Tips

Harvest sprouts when they reach 1- to 1-1/2-inches in diameter by cutting them off the stem with a sharp knife. First remove the leaf under the sprout, then the sprout. To hasten maturity, remove the growing tip of the plant when sprouts at the base of the plant reach 1/2-inch in diameter. Sprouts should be ready to harvest about two weeks later.

Uses

Roast, grill, sauté, shred & make coleslaw, use the leaves like collard greens

Chinese Cabbage

Description

There are two types of Chinese cabbage, Napa and bok choy. Napa types are barrel shape with tightly packed heads. Bok choy types form tall narrow heads with thick white stalks and deep green leaves. Chinese cabbage is an early disease-resistant Napa type Chinese cabbage. It lasts well through summer heat without bolting (sending up a seedstalk).

Harvest Tips

With a sharp knife, cut mature heads when they are compact and firm. Most varieties are ready to harvest 45-50 days after planting. Direct seed a second crop in mid- to late summer for fall harvest before a hard frost.

Uses

Napa types may be shredded and substituted in salads for lettuce. Both types are used stir-fried or steamed.

Pak Choi (Bak Choi)

Description

This member of the cabbage family has a number of different names, including bok choy, horse’s ear, Chinese celery cabbage and white mustard cabbage. Its structure looks like a squat celery, with either white or very pale green short, chunky stalks and glossy, deep green leaves.

Harvest Tips

Harvest sprouts when they reach 1- to 1-1/2-inches in diameter by cutting them off the stem with a sharp knife. First remove the leaf under the sprout, then the sprout. To hasten maturity, remove the growing tip of the plant when sprouts at the base of the plant reach 1/2-inch in diameter. Sprouts should be ready to harvest about two weeks later.

Uses

The texture of both leaves and stalks is crisp, and the flavor is somewhere between mild cabbage and spinach. If very young it can be eaten raw in salads, but is best when briefly cooked.

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