Is Late October – Early November too late to plant Brassicas in Gulf Coast gardens?

Well, strictly speaking, late October – early November is not too late to plant Brassicas.. The ideal time to plant them in our area is between the middle of September to the middle of October. That’s not a hard and fast rule, though. Horticultural experts say that the planting season for these vegetables can be expended to the middle of November – although the “expanded” planting season is considered marginal.

There are a lot of variables in determining whether this time is too late to plant Brassicas.. The first frost dates are November 23 for zone 8b and December 11 for 9a.

For cabbage, days to harvest from the time we plant the seedlings are around 90 days. Brussels sprouts take between 90-100 days, and broccoli takes between 60 to 80 days. The difference in the time spreads indicates different varieties. So, if planted now, none will be mature before the first frost.

Not to worry, though. Most Brassicas can withstand frosts down to 26F. And they have an interesting way of handling cold weather. At first frost, they will convert their starches to sugar. Sugar has a lower freezing point than starch. The water in the cells of the cabbage family can be icy, but as long as the temperatures stay above 25F, the water will not freeze. We’ve all heard people say that cabbage tastes sweeter after a frost. That’s because it is sweeter.

So to answer the question, “Is November too late to plant brassicas,” the answer is…maybe. If you haven’t got them in the ground, or your entire crop has been devastated by cabbage worms or cabbage loopers, try it.

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