Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brassica Oleracea vs. Brassica Rapa

Belle and I are thinking about sizing down the garden space we use to grow brassica oleracea varieties and  replace the space with brassica rapa varieties. Oleracea and rapa are words that group several varieties of the commonly grown brassica species. The first, oleracae includes the brocolli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage varieties. The second, rapa includes varieties like pac choi, chinese cabbabe, tatsoi, turnip and more.

Here's why we are leaning toward growing more of the latter:


1. Rapa varieties are less susceptible to that destructive little green caterpillar (aka white butterfly probably fluttering around my garden now!).
2. Rapa varieties take less than 60 days to reach full maturity, rather than oleracea which can ake up to 90 days.
3. Rapa is as equally tolerant if not more tolerant of frost/cold than oleracea.
4. Both varieties freeze well, so there is nothing lost in winter storage

All told rapa is, at least in our minds, the superior choice to oleracea, because it provides a spring crop of vegetables sooner, it frees up garden space for earlier mid-season planting, and not least of all we don't have to spend our all our spring morning and evening hours squashing green caterpillars between our fingers! Yuck! That said, we'll definitely save a row for the traditional oleracae varieties. They are too good to abandon completely!

Here's a picture that show the radically different growth rates of the brassica species that we're experiencing in our garden this season. Keep in mind we planted all the seeds of every variety on the same day.

Q. James catching some springtime sunshine!
The rapa varieties, turnip and baby boc choi (just in front of the garlic) are in the rear 2 rows and broccoli is in the front row next to (and in front of) Q James. The size difference is extreme! Rapa grows so much faster than oleracea! One species is ready to harvest, theo other looks like it's just getting started! I need that garden space for corn and the broccoli section won't be available for another 45 days. Not good! Not worth it. So we're cutting it back next year, for sure!

A beautiful row of baby boc choi heads ready to be harvested!

baby boc choi row




8 comments:

  1. I'm not sure which one I grow more of. I love both species. Though I did expand my broccoli plantings this year. I didn't expand the other because I can't eat all that I grow now anyway. I do love that they come in early though. I'm already eating mizuna and the tatsoi and bok choy won't be far behind.

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    1. I've never heard of Mizuna. Sounds interesting. I like that you're planting more broccoli this year. It's a great vegetable!

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  2. That's very good progress in your garden! Your son must be happy harvesting them!

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  3. Good to hear your family enjoy rapa now.
    Oleracea is a bit challenging growing in the tropics.

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    1. So good to hear from you. I hope your family is well!

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  4. Thanks for sharing at Green Thumb Thursday and we hope you'll return today! I'd never even heard of rapa!

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    1. So glad you posted. We've got lot's in common!

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