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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Vegetable gardening, Brassicaceae (Mustard/Cress family), Vegetables--Diseases and pests

We have a couple of beautiful heads of cauliflower and a nice set of broccoli. The cauliflower looked nice until we cut through it to find lots of little bugs, turning some of the flower inside dark. We have a few aphids on our mustard greens, but the cauli bugs do not look like aphids.

Is it possible to grow ANY Cruciferae up here without infestations? I have NEVER been able to grow ANY type without some kind of bugs. At least the aphids wait until the bok choy flowers before they infest....and our yard has lots of ladybugs! Is there any hope?


We recommend that you start your seeds indoors to reduce the threat of insect infestation. Once the plants have begun to establish themselves, you can move them outdoors.

These books have great information about growing vegetables in the Pacific Northwest:

Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to OrganicGgardening (by Steve Solomon, Sasquatch Books, 2007)
Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles (Sunset, 2010)
Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest(by Binda Colebrook).

Colebrook explains that crucifers are "susceptible to attack by clubroot, cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, cabbage maggots, and gray aphids." Sunset recommends that to prevent pests, "plant in a different site each year. Row covers will protect plants from aphids, cabbage loopers, imported cabbage-worms, and cabbage root maggots. Collars made from paper cups or metal cans (with ends removed) deter cutworms, which chew off seedlings at the base."

Date 2017-05-18
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Brassicaceae (Mustard/Cress family)

I planted Broccoli raab seeds early this spring. They came up just fine, but they more or less bolted immediately. What happened to cause this?


Broccoli raab, Rapini, or Brassica rapa, Ruvo group, resembles turnip greens more than it does the more familiar head-forming Broccoli. It has a tendency to bolt (form flowers and go to seed) when temperatures are too low or too high. Sometimes cole crops bolt when they have been exposed to seesawing temperatures, but they may also bolt in reaction to other stresses, such as insufficient nutrients (like nitrogen), or competition from weeds. The following information from Clemson University Extension refers to Chinese vegetables, but it provides useful tips on growing cole crops, such as:
Bolting can be prevented by:

  • Maintaining a steady, moderate rate of growth.
  • Setting out young, healthy transplants that have not been stressed.
  • Watering well when transplanting to start root growth and remove air pockets from the soil.
  • Planting at the correct time for your area.
  • Growing slow-bolting varieties.

Although you were probably hoping for green unopened flower buds, the flower shoots, stems and leaves are also edible. Try sowing through early fall, and provide the optimum water and soil conditions. North Carolina State University Extension has additional information about this plant.

Date 2017-04-22
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May 31 2018 13:14:08