Rumour has it that you're meant to sow your brassicas in Summer. If the Brussels sprouts ain't a-germinating by the feast of St Stephen you might as well give up leaves for the new year. The trouble with sowing your brassicas in Summer, though, is that a bed that should look like this ...
Back-to-front: red cabbage, broccoli Waltham, Tuscan kale; all wickedly sown in mid-Autumn 2013, rather than the recommended December-February period of cabbage moth glee-time.
...instead looks like this, a cabbage-moth-larva-ravaged, post-apocalyptic wasteland:
Artist's impression of my cabbage-moth ravaged garden (actually nicked from here, a link, which, as luck would have it, takes you to a compelling argument for dumpster-diving).
This be-ravagement of the cabbage bed would be on account of the cabbage moths who turn up in the warmer weather, indulging their wily reproductive ways and the vegetarian proclivities of their adolescents, who apparently share Melbourne's collective kale fetish. The good news about this is that chooks like nothing more than a handful of fat green caterpillars reared on a diet of organic cavolo nero. Indeed, recently inspecting a bedraggled, half-vanquished kale plant, I decided that I wasn't trying to grow kale, I was trying to grow chicken treats. Which was comforting, or would have been, except that the Lalorian diet (i.e., mine) is all about the foliage (and the chocolate) (and the apples) (and the toast) (with cashew butter and honey, omidog) (and lentils, obvs.) (and tomatoey business) (etc), and when I'm eating foliage, I prefer my foliage (a) brassicaceous (or basilaceous, come to think of it, and sometimes silverbeetaceous, sorrelly, sage, lettucian, or minty) and (b) not pre-digested and in the form of caterpillars.
So, anyway. It's mid-Autumn, and orthodoxy would have it that I'm late to the brassica sowing party, but so be it: I've only just sown my brassicas, into soil-stuffed toilet rolls, no less, which are now sitting in a plastic box on top of the gas water heater.
For the public record, I've sown: dwarf blue curly kale, Tuscan black kale, red Russian kale, broccoli Romanesco (that fab fractal-forming lime-green cauliflowery business), and a side-sprouting broccoli descended from last year's Waltham broccoli but possibly of slightly mixed parentage, on account of my permissiveness with flowering cruciferous vegetables. You might notice a completely ridiculous three different kinds of kale in that list. My plan is to race them. Whoever gets least molested by cabbage moth larvae in the summer gets to have babies for 2015.