Easy to plant and delicious to eat, home gardeners growing cabbage are rewarded with abundant and dependable harvests. Extremely hardy, this member of the brassica family is a cool season biennial grown as an annual.
Cabbage requires regular water, full sun to partial shade, and fertile, well-drained soil. If possible, avoid growing cabbage in spots where other brassicas grew the previous three years.
Tip: Humus rich soil is the key to a great harvest. Add ample amounts of organic matter to the soil prior to planting.
How to Plant:
Plant cabbage in early spring or fall for best results. Plant seed indoors in flats early in the season. Transplant into the garden when two sets of true leaves develop. Allow approximately 15 inches between plants and 2-3 feet between rows. If planting from seed, sow directly into the garden about 1/2 inch deep and two weeks before the last expected frost date. Cabbages are heavy feeders and are susceptible to many nutrient dificiencies. Apply balanced, organic fertilizers every 2-3 weeks.
Depending on variety, transplants should be ready to harvest in 6-8 weeks. Cut the stalk at the base of the head with a sharp knife. It is best to harvest them in the morning, when the heads are still cool.
Insects and Diseases:
Covering young plants with floating row cover will protect cabbage from flea beetles, cabbageworms and root maggots. Collars made from paper cups with the bottoms cut out will also help protect young plants from many insect pests. Watch for small white butterflies fluttering around your cole crops. These are the adult stage of the very destructive imported cabbageworm.
Tip: Most cabbage diseases require wet leaves to spread – avoid using overhead sprinklers.
Seed Saving Instructions:
Biennial. Cabbage will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, isolate by one mile the second year when going to seed. In early spring, of the second growing season, cut a shallow “X” in the top of the head. This will allow the emerging seed stalk to push up through the cabbage a bit more easily. The seed stalk actually pushes the head open and uncurls itself as it rises out of the head. It is a vegetable birth in the most graphic sense. The stalk will grow 3-4 inches tall before branching out. Cabbage seeds do not normally require much processing.