Consumer craze for small crucifers – Yahoo News

Dec. 6—WILLSBORO — How early miniature cabbages can be harvested is one of the projects this past growing season at the Willsboro Research Farm funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.
"We were specifically looking at varieties that produce small heads because there seems to be a trend towards, consumer preference, for smaller sized fruits and vegetables," Elisabeth Hodgdon, regional vegetable specialist for the Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Horticulture Program, said.
"So, a small head of cabbage that you could use the whole thing and a small batch of cauliflower in a salad. It's a little easier to handle for small households.
The project includes green and purple cabbage varieties.
"We started harvesting the cabbages in late May," she said.
"Some of the varieties in particular are a little bit different than your typical cabbage. The leaves are more tender and lettuce like, and they have a really mild flavor. And so you really could use them as a lettuce substitute."
In Eastern Europe, these type of small cabbages are used in salads in place of lettuce.
"We really had good luck with the cabbages," she said.
"In terms of timing, a lot of farms in our area, they are looking for ways where they can really maximize the high tunnel use." More and more people are building high tunnels in the area every year.
"Some people are using them for warm seasonal crops where they are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. Some farms are really trying to grow vegetables all year round where they will grow something like tomatoes and then in the fall they'll grow spinach that they'll harvest.
"They are rotating between winter greens and these summer crops. We were thinking that for some farms for spring planted cabbage, it's only growing in the high tunnel from late March until mid June, early June. It's kind of a short window of time where they could grow winter spinach.
"Take that out of ground in March. Plant these Brassica crops and pull them out sometime in early June. Then they would have time to grow something like cucumbers or beans or a warm season crop for the rest of the summer."
The plant family name is Brassicaceae.
"The older name for this group was crucifers, crucifer vegetables or cold crops," she said.
"It refers to that group of crops that includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radishes, collard greens, mustard, all of those cruciferous crops are in the same family."
Hodgdon likes studying this group because of the short growing season in northern New York.
"This particular crop group is very cold tolerant," she said.
"They grow really well during the spring and the fall when warm season crops like tomatoes and cucumbers can't grow."
Hodgdon thinks locals can push the growing envelope in northern New York.
"To see how we can diversify the crops that we are growing in this crop group," she said.
"High tunnels really help us out with that. A few different farms in our area, which have been really successful in offering fresh vegetables to our community all year round with the help of high tunnels."
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