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Everyone who has ever grown potatoes has their own method of planting and managing
them until harvest.The compilation of collected illustrations and text in this segment
are meant to aid the first-timer as a guide or to refresh the old hand's memory. The
planting schedule is handy for anyone of course, it also gives a good idea of the time
needed between planting and harvesting.
Some plots of ground have club-root present in the soil and the growing of
brassicas are virtually impossible because of it. Club-root is caused by the
fungus, Plasmodiophora brassicae. Plants infected with this illness are typified by
signs of grey leaves, retarded growth, root distortion and swelling, with
eventual rotting-away of the roots and plant death. It is known that this fungus
can stay in the ground for many years and there is no viable chemical agent that
is approved to combat it.
Having said this, there are some things that CAN be done if you really are serious
about growing brassicas on an infected patch of ground. You can certainly use
containers filled with known "clean" soil, but you can also use the technique
I will describe how we grow broccoli. The first step is to plant your seeds at
home in commercially bagged seeding soil and let them germinate on your
windowsill in a warmed propagator.
Once the seedlings come up, remove the plantlets from the warmth and
transplant them - one plantlet to one pot. You let them stay in this little pot (we
use plastic coffee cups) until the plants get a couple more sets of leaves and the
roots begin to need room. At this point they go into a larger pot (say, the size
that small house plants come in).
When they have taken-on the appearance of a larger and sturdy plant with
several leaf sets and have roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, plant them
in wider pots and begin acclimatising them, moving them outside and placing
them under some sort of gauze. They will stay here until they have VERY
substantial root systems (1) and have grown to the top of the gauze tunnel. By
this time it should be late spring or the beginning of summer and it is time to set
them in the ground.
Soak those plants in buckets of
non-chlorinated water,e.g. rain
water, while you are planting other
Just look at this gorgeous
root system. EM was used.
Contents of this page:
Brassicas in "Sick Soil"
Brassicas in "Sick Soil"
Stall the plants out and organise
your working space
Now, before you set them out, some ground preparation is necessary. The
first thing to do is to dig a hole that is at least eight fingers wider than the pot
that they are growing in and at least four fingers deeper (2). You fill the hole
with commercially bagged fertilized garden soil (3). Mix in a handful or two of
You are now ready to plant your broccoli plants. Water the hole and lower the
plant gently down into it (4+5). Fill-in with more of the bagged garden soil and
firm-up (6). You can plant the plants a little deeper than the orininal soil level.
This way they will stand stronger in the earth. DO NOT USE ANY OF YOUR
GARDEN SOIL ANYWHERE NEAR THIS ESPECIALLY WORKED AREA. When all plants
have been planted this way, water them in again and re-cover them with the
gauze (7). The gauze protects them from whitefly. If you have a long tunnel you
can grow carrots and parsnips under there as well. It will keep the carrot fly
* TIP 1: The root system is everything. The bigger and more extensive it is, the
less chance there is of club-root infection. We used EM to facilitate this and have
gotten some exceptional root clumps... in spite of the cool temperatures.
"TIP 2: The main purpose of going to all this trouble is to isolate your plant from
infected ground, so be very careful not to let any of your patch soil get mixed-in
with the commercial soil.
All finished...now the rest!
Tidy up the area when the work is
Chicory, or 'Belgian Endive', as it is also known, is a leafy plant with a long
taproot. It is grown for its "new growth" or chicons which are forced in the
dark. There are several techniques to attain the chicon, and all are a bit
exotic; however, here we will outline the way that we do it. It is important
to note that there are two types of chicory seeds to buy - one type requires
the covering of the new leaf growth with sand and the other type doesn't. If
you use the method described below, you will need the type that does NOT
STAGE ONE - On the plot
The soil type is not as important as the fact that it must be well-drained, so
that it won't interfere with the taproot development and removal. What I
mean by this is that ideally you want a single taproot (sort of like a carrot
or parsnip…one root with no branch-offs). Further, you want to be able to
easily remove your plant without damaging the root in the process. It seems
that they tend to like poor soil better than rich.
Just a note about nitrogen: You want to avoid an excess of soil nitrogen
because it could cause excessive foliage production which takes away from
the proper root formation. It could also be responsible for the formation of
loose or open chicons, which is not the desirable goal of chicory
Select the seed type that you want and plant in the ground where you want
to grow it. Thin the plantlets out to a distance of ~15 cm apart, or a
handbreadth. The rows should be ±30 cm apart. The looser the soil, the
better the taproots can grow straight and deep.
You don't really have to do much until the fall. The plants happily produce
leaves and just grow and grow.
Removing the plants
You can lift the plants anywhere between September and December,
depending upon the climatic conditions, the plant root rate of development
and of course, the plant sort. You can investigate the root development
from time to time if you are unsure; however, witloof is lifted usually in
October in these parts.
Carefully lift the plants and shake the dirt off of the roots, then lay them out
to 'rest' for a period of at least two weeks. We leave them in the field for a
few days then take them home to finish this rest period on a coolish and
shaded side-balcony. This rest period that I am talking about is quite
important if you want to get nice, sturdy chicons. *TIP: If you have a large
crop and room is a problem, you can wrap the bare roots and keep them in
the fridge until you are ready to re-plant them.
After a minimum of fourteen days you can then remove the leaves (to 3 cm
above the root top) and then remove the tips of the roots (making a root
length of ~20 cm) as well as all side root bits, leaving a single, leafless root.
When cutting the leaves off, make a straight cut with a sharp knife. *TIP:
The longer the leaves, the longer the stubble should be.
The harvested chicons, ready for
STAGE TWO - Forcing
Now that they have rested, they are ready to be replanted. There are many
different ways to do this - everything from underground to in containers at
home, but the one aspect that all methods have in common is that there
must be no light available to the newly forming leaves.
We have selected an old, plastic clothes hamper (1). Fill it to between ½
and ¾ full with soil (keeping in mind that the chicons must not reach the
cover). Pack those roots in there good but leave some room for the new
leaves (chicon) to form without touching each other, where moisture
accumulates, the leaves will brown. Plant the roots to just under the
stubble, leaving the crown showing; give them water and cover with a top
or a black plastic rubbish bin liner (2). We put a plastic tube in the centre of
the 'colony' to add water from time to time (3). *TIP:Staggering the
re-planting of the roots will give you chicons throughout the winter,
otherwise harvesting them all at once will require some imaginative recipes
and quite a bit of eating in a very short period of time. This is where keeping
the roots in the fridge comes in.
Airing is important as well, to avoid fungal formation. *TIP: Do this at night
when it's dark.
It is possible that you will have your first chicons after three weeks. The
temperature determines the speed at which the chicons will develop. It is
recommended that the temp range should be 12-15°C (55-60°F)
When removing the chicons to eat, hold the chicon firmly with one hand
and make a slanted cut with the other (4). Do this as carefully as you can as
to not bruise or damage the neighbouring chicons.
--Note that some folks use hydroponics instead of soil to force the new
leaves to form.
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© sjoerd 2006-2015