MarkReed is much farther along this project than I am, so I hope he chimes in. He shared lots of information on the project that can be found in the course (chapter 4) and has even shared f1 seed.

I started my seeds last spring, had probably 60 plants growing last year. I dug them up in the fall, and planted them here at the new house in February.
Got super exited when I saw the first two flowers today on a red cabbage plant, several more close behind. About 12 plants look alive enough to bloom.

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Mark R
I started F1 seeds last fall, later in the season than the original plants the year before so they were much smaller than those the year before. Between those I planted and late sprouting volunteers I had probably 200 going into winter. Earlier sprouting volunteers were stupidly removed to make way for a cowpea patch last year.

Anyway, of those 200 smaller plants four have survived, broken dormancy and growing nicely. What seemed like a disaster is maybe a windfall of good luck in the four that lived because they were widely separated, indicating their survival was not some random chance of a microclimate or soil condition that caused them to live but instead something genetic.

Threre are two obvious phenotypes and maybe a third more subtle one in the four plants. I transplanted them all to the same little spot a while back along with a single kale plant of unknown variety. I have plenty of kale seed so later on I will probably remove all other kale in the garden to ensure that any seeds from that plant are crosses to the broccol-ish plants.

I also have a Chinese variety of broccoli (Yod Fah) that I got from Baker Creek that I direct sowed a few weeks ago. It is one of few direct sowed things so far this year that actually sprouted and survived late frost and freezes. It is supposed to be ready to harvest in 45 days so I’m in hopes it will be ready to bloom at about the same time as my other plants. If so, I will transplant a single one of it into my seed patch as well.

I hope now to have:
1 - Kale, with solid winter hardiness that may or may not already be crossed with something else and crossed again this year with my mix and the Yod Fah
2 - The Yod Fah crossed to my mix and the kale
3 - The F2 generation of my other mix

If that works out, I will plant it all later this summer along with a bunch more of the F1 seed from last year. I’m going to plant it a little earlier this year and in abundance so in 2023 I can have a big patch to select from for hardiness, productivity and flavor.

I actually regard all of these plants as annuals. With the kale’s bloom cycle a full 12 months and the Yod Fah’s 45 days. If I can get a cross between those two and all the others, I may have what I need to make a self-seeding, basically feral crop that makes fresh broccol- ish nearly year- round with its off time being the hot worm-infested summer months.

@Alma N if your plants are already blooming, you must be in a climate where this project might be easy. You could be harvesting fresh broccol-ish all winter long, well before I do.

Alma N
I can harvest leaves all winter long, they just grow very slow when it’s cold.
The feral B. Rapa started flowering almost a month ago. I may be able to get their genetics into my Rapas but I doubt Oleracea will ever bolt that early.

Ray S
I’m starting a B. oleracea landrace, based on kales and broccoli. I have seedlings of the kales Baltic Red, Dazzling Blue, Lacinato Rainbow, Madeley, Pentland Brig and Scarlet Red and the broccoli Peacock. You’ll notice some of Frank Morton’s (Wild Garden Seed) creations here, two of which are already quite diverse. They’ll be planted out this weekend, I hope, to get established before our first frost, due in about a month.

Gregg M
I’ll see what I’ve got in the fridge if you are interested Ray. I’ve got Portuguese cabbage and spigarello for sure and i might have other Wild Garden stuff from the deep past.

Ray S
I have quite a collection of oleracea so no need to pull stuff out of the fridge. Thanks for the offer though.
I know spigariello is often labelled as B. oleracea but I think it’s B. rapa. To me, it has that distinct turnip top odour and taste, mild, but noticeable.

I’ll need to dive into this more; I’m mixing a ton of kales, rapinis, gai lans, napa cabbages, etc together this summer. I haven’t been recording which brassica any of them are, so I’ll have to dig into which are which this winter. I think many of my favourites may be rapas. Need to figure out how to tell the difference if I am going to separate.

Alma N
I try to keep the species separate, very little interspecies crosses are possible (apparently bud pollination helps). I wouldn’t mind having them all mixed up personally, but I suspect that I’ll find it was a good idea not to mix. They will probably cook at different rates, and be better for different uses (Napus kales are amazing in a zuppa toscana, Juncea for a mess of greens, Oleracea for broccolish).
As for identification, I have been having some difficulties with my wild brassicas (3 that seem important). There just aren’t many sources with good pictures. I think I’ve figured it out, but I want to keep learning. I have a few greens seed mixes that I bought that have multiple species, would probably be a fun ID project. I’ll be taking lots of pictures if anyone is interested.

Mark R
I wish I knew more about the wild ones. Something I think might be wild mustard is blooming in my neighborhood right now, but it tastes awful. I don’t know if it would cross with mine or not but just in case, I won’t allow it anywhere near the place.

I would like to incorporate wild things into my landraces but not at the expense of years’ worth of selection to make it fit to eat again. My mustard is basically wild anyway but delicious. Mostly the only reason I even harvest seed is in case of some freaky crop failure, or an unwanted accidental cross happens, I can just start over.

Some nasty stink bug looking critters showed up in my garden yesterday, the earliest I have ever seen them. They are very colorful and usually don’t show up here till mid-summer or so. They were all clustered on a single turnip plant although plenty other turnip plants are available.

I think it was Joseph who spoke about selection against bugs on potatoes by culling the plants they were most attracted to. I left that one turnip to observe. If it is more attractive to the bugs, I’ll use it as a trap to attract and kill them but be careful to never let it open a flower to disperse pollen, let alone make seeds.

Alma N
I doubt you have wild B. Juncea, but it’s possible. If it is spicy I would guess black mustard. They are the ones that leave the tall skeleton with heavy branching at the top. Wild turnip (rapa) is mild with the leaves wrapping around the stem on both sides at the nodes (picture).

Here’s what the Black mustard looks like right now. I haven’t cooked up a mess of them yet, but I want to. The spicy should cook out. I think the fresh leaves could be chopped fine and used as a condiment.

Sometimes weird alchemy happens in the spicy ones if you ferment them with salt.

Alma N
Mustard Kraut… I can’t wait to try it on a hotdog.

I put some garlic in mine too, intense but good.
I end up using it like Sichuan “pickled vegetable” and such, actually.

My Brocollish seeds arrived! They’ll get in the ground in the next 2 weeks or so, I need to buck a fallen tree off that part of the field: it’s lightly shaded on a south slope, very rich, fairly moist, a little cool. I plan to do a last-man-standing selecting, eating the entirety of the first 25% of plants to flower and the tiniest 25% of the plants saving seed from what’s left.


(Referring to the top of the post)
There is a little mistake on the entry screen of the video where it refers to cabbage root maggots. I thankfully, don’t know what root maggots are. I don’t recall ever seeing them and hope I never do.

The worms I’m referring to are the caterpillars of small white and yellow butterflies that infest and pretty much ruin anything of this species from late spring until the first hard freeze puts an end to them.

By adapting this species to winter hardiness and maturing a harvest in very early spring I’m able to avoid them. They do chomp on the plants in early fall and then arrive again about the time seeds are maturing the next year but they like the leaves and pretty much leave the seed pods alone.

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I recall somewhere someone mentioning a desire to adapt this species to be perennial. I would also love to do that. Most plants have died after seeding but I have had a few that survived the heat of summer and the swarms of worms. None so far have survived a second winter. :disappointed_relieved:

Ok Mark what do you think for the new thumbnail ? :slight_smile: :rofl: :wink:


@julia.dakin That’s funny but accurate. Both in describing the situation and in conveying my couldn’t care less attitude of what their proper name might be.

They fly around, they lay eggs, the eggs hatch and the caterpillars eat my stuff. I used to hate their little guts but now that I 've found a work around I like them fine. They are pretty little things fluttering all around and they pollinate pretty much everything that blooms.

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Looks like my Broccol-ish will be put the test in next couple of days. Our temperatures so far this year have been pretty mild. With a few nights in the 20s F and one morning at 18 F the briccol-ish is looking fine.

Our weather report for tomorrow is calling for a high near 50F in the afternoon, dropping to below zero but the next morning, followed by high the next day in single digits. This project has survived temperatures below zero before but never, so far, a change quite this rapid and drastic.

I could go out and cover it but I’m not going to. It’s a gamble I suppose but if even just a couple make it, I’ll be happy. If it all croaks that will be sad but It’s going to adapt to freakish weather or it’s not


I believe it’s going to! :fist:

C’mon, plants! You can do it! :muscle:

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Thanks for the encouragement, I’ll pass that on to the plants. The jury is still out. Yesterday morning low was -14 F, warmed up to -6 F by afternoon, -9 at bedtime. Warmed up overnight back to -6 and now just a couple hours later, and still pre-dawn is up to -4.

A little bit of snow and a lot of wind and I can see the broccol-ish acted as its own little snow break and is mostly covered. Temperatures may rise to above zero today, but not expecting above freezing for a few more days, that’s when we’ll know.


I hope they’ll adapt to it and do well for you. Both because that’ll be great for you, and because I’m super interested in this project anyway. I find it inspiring, and it gives me hope that my own similar project will succeed! :smiley:


Well, it’s been a week since the fourteen below zero F night and the next two days remaining below zero. Since it finally hit above zero and then above freezing it has stayed above freezing and hit 71 degrees one day. Nights have been in the low fifties. A rather nasty aroma permeates the area around the broccol-ish patch, rotten brassica is pretty pungent.

Some plants are flat out dead, no doubt about it but I am happy to report that some, although damaged may pull through and some are barely affected.

ALL IS NOT LOST! Photos taken 1/1/2023

These and at least a dozen others, I hope to become the primary mother plants next season.

If anyone else has mixed up (non-CMS) brassica oleracea, I would be happy to trade some seeds. I’m particularly interested in kohlrabi, collards and broccoli that have overwintered in sub-zero conditions.


Very impressive!

If any of my kohlrabi survive and set seeds, I’d be happy to send you some after they’re ready! They’re right next to my brussels sprouts, so they’ll probably cross. That’s my master plan, anyway.

Not sub-zero here. The temperatures reach down to 10-12 degrees F, sometimes slightly lower. It hit 7 degrees F once ten years ago, and it hit 9 degrees F once last year. So that’s not as cold hardy as you’re looking for. Still, I’ll be happy to share seeds once I have some, if you’d like some!

Very fun to see your progress on this. I have some collards we are watching. We have had subzero weather and now everything is covered by feet of snow. I’ll let you know if any make it through. Thanks for sharing this exciting project.

Minus 25celsius and still going! The orange color of the core of the top photo is intriguing. I wonder if the plant has given up these leaves or has pumped them full with some super anti-freeze.

@Hugo, I think the top of that plant in the first photo is history. There are several like that. From past experience sometimes the ensuing rot travels down the stalk and the plant dies. Sometimes they heal up and multiple new shoots emerge. Just have to wait and see but on that particular plant I’m pretty confident it will make it.

Two of my five brussels sprouts plants are wilting over and half brown. They still have plenty of green leaves, though, so I’m guessing (and hoping) they’ll make it. The remaining three all look good, and all of my kohlrabis look good, except for two of them which have outer leaves covered in mold spots.

In your experience, are those plants with moldy leaves likely to be okay? Do I need to intervene and remove the moldy leaves? I hope I don’t have to, because that would be a pain.

Go Broccolish go!!

Well, I just bought a bunch of super cold hardy brassica seeds from the Experimental Farm Network. Brassica oleracea, rapa, napus, and even juncea. I shall plant them every which way and see what grows, and probably pay no attention whatsoever to which I planted where. (Laugh.) I’ll keep a record of which varieties I planted, but I’ll otherwise drop them all into a container, shake them up, and sow them wherever I feel like it.

Is there a way to tell based on flowers or growth habits or anything which species are which, in case that’s helpful? It would be useful to know if there’s a pattern in which species I find the most tasty.