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How to grow brassicas from plug plants

Cabbage Plants ‘Savoy Continuity Collection’ from Suttons

Originally developed for large-scale vegetable farming, brassica plugs are hardy plants that can withstand a wide variety of conditions. Whether you opt for cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli or leafy greens, here’s what to do with your vegetable plug plants to ensure you get a bumper harvest. Grown from seed? Follow the same instructions when you come to plant your seedlings out.

What to do with brassica plug plants when they arrive

As soon as your brassica plug plants arrive, open the packaging and make sure the roots are nice and moist. Water them if they’re not. To give your plugs the best chance of thriving, it’s very important to get them into soil as soon as possible. 

Suttons provides several different sizes of plug plants. Jumbo plugs and super plugs are generally large enough to be planted straight out into your veg patch or allotment. However, if you go for our smaller value plugs or posti-plugs, you may need to grow them on a little before putting them out into their final positions. 

How to prepare the ground for brassicas

Purple Cauliflower head amongst green leaves
Available as postiplugs or large garden-ready potted plants, these cauliflowers give you a strong start
Image: Cauliflower Plants ‘Depurple’ from Suttons

Choose a sunny or part-shaded position in the garden. The soil should be weed free, well-worked and moist. Prior to planting, apply a general purpose fertiliser like Growmore.

Use a trowel to part the soil, creating a shallow furrow into which you can plant your plugs. Firm in the young plants so that the top of the module plug is just below soil level – this helps prevent the roots from drying out.

Water well and regularly, ensuring the plants have sufficient moisture at all times, particularly during warm spells.

Planting sprouting broccoli plugs

Broccoli (Sprouting) Plants ‘F1 Bellaverde® Sibsey’ from Suttons
Expensive to buy from supermarkets, this deliciously sweet sprouting broccoli can even be eaten raw
Image: Broccoli (Sprouting) Plants ‘F1 Bellaverde® Sibsey’ from Suttons

Position your sprouting broccoli plants at 60cm (24″) intervals in rows 60cm (24″) apart. The plants will ultimately reach around 3ft in height so it’s a good idea to earth up slightly to provide plenty of support as they mature. Crops grown on exposed sites may benefit from staking against ‘wind rock’. 

From early winter, harvest the young flower shoots from your sprouting broccoli plants as they appear. Pick whilst young and tender when the buds are tight. Regular picking encourages a steady supply of florets which should continue for several weeks.

Planting cabbage plugs

Cabbage Plants ‘Pointed Continuity Duo Pack’ from Suttons
‘Pointed’ cabbage varieties can be harvested as spring greens or grown on to develop hearts
Image: Visions BV, Netherlands

If you buy jumbo plugs, you can plant your cabbage plants straight out at 30cm (12”) intervals leaving the same distance between rows. Savoy cabbages need a little more space – plant these at 40-50cm (16-20″) intervals in rows 40-50cm (16-20″) apart. As the plants grow, draw earth up around the base of each stem and firm to prevent ‘wind rock’ and improve the plants’ stability.

Plants will heart-up through the spring but, if they’re pointed cabbage varieties, they can also be cut earlier before hearts appear and used for leafy greens. If it’s winter cabbage you’re looking for, our Savoy cabbages provide compact, round, dark green heads from October through to December.

Planting cauliflower plugs

Cauliflower Plants ‘Romanesco Continuity Collection’ from Suttons
The architectural, lime-green florets of Romanescos offer a superb alternative to regular white cauliflowers 
Image: Visions BV, Netherlands

To overwinter your cauliflowers, pot your cauliflower plugs on before planting them out at 60cm (24″) intervals in rows 60cm (24″) apart. Expect large white curds to form from April onwards. 

For autumn/winter cauliflower plants including the architectural Romanesco varieties, plant in the same way but expect the curds to form from October through to December. 

Careful monitoring of your cauliflowers is required – they don’t do well when under-watered or waterlogged. Keep the soil moist, look out for invading caterpillars, and protect developing curds from the sun by folding the leaves over them. 

Planting pak choi plugs

Pak Choi Seeds ‘F1 Hanakan’ from Suttons
If you raise your own Pak Choi plants from seeds, simply follow the same method when big enough
Image: Pak Choi Seeds ‘F1 Hanakan’ from Suttons

Plant pak choi plugs or your homegrown seedlings at 30cm (12″) intervals in rows the same distance apart. Pak choi has short roots so make sure you keep on top of your watering. Quick growing, it should be ready to harvest 45 – 60 days after planting.

Pak choi leaves are soft and succulent, with crunchy white or green stalks. The whole plant is edible, and the slight mustard flavour makes a delightful addition to stir-fries, soups, noodle and meat dishes. The young leaves are also great for adding to salads.

Planting kale plugs

Kale Black Plants ‘Black’ from Suttons
Cold tolerant and bred to perform well in the UK climate, kale can be harvested long into winter
Image: Floramedia

Excellent winter hardiness makes kale a useful winter/spring vegetable at a time when fresh garden produce is scarce. Providing you with delicious, highly nutritious, “leafy” pickings, kale requires little care apart from watering, should this be necessary. Planting a range of kales will keep you well-supplied with tasty leaves through most of the year and especially during the winter when kale comes into its own – a frost helps to enhance its bold flavour. 

  • Black kale has attractive dark green, deeply dimpled, strap-like leaves and reaches a height of 90cm (3ft). Plant this variety 45cm (18”) apart. 
  • Kale ‘Reflex’ is a curly, succulent, dark-leaved variety which you can pick from early November right through to early April. Plant this one 45-60cm (18”-24”) apart. 
  • Kale ‘Rainbow Candy Crush’ boasts a stunning fluorescent pink colour, and should be planted 45cm (18”) apart. 

Planting Brussels sprouts plugs

Brussels Sprout ‘Crispus’ from Suttons
At the cutting edge of new breeding, ‘Crispus’ sprouts are resistant to club root
Image: Brussels Sprout ‘Crispus’ from Suttons

Grow Brussels sprout plants deeply in firm, rich fertile, well drained soil – a site that has previously grown beans or peas is ideal. Position your plugs 60cm (24”) apart and water thoroughly after planting.

Try Brussels Sprout ‘Crispus’ for a profusion of dark green buttons ready from September through to Christmas. You’ll need to pot your plugs on before they’re ready to plant out, but you can even try growing them in containers if space is at a premium.

Brassica plug plants offer a shortcut to thriving leafy veg which is both nutritious and delicious. Get a head start on the growing season by browsing our wide range of vegetable plants for gardens and allotments.

Lead image: Cabbage Plants ‘Savoy Continuity Collection’ from Suttons

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