This well known, easy to grow member of the brassicaceae family is a very hardy vegetable with many different varieties. Plant and head sizes can vary greatly between the different varieties, the head shape can be round, flat or elongated, the leaves can be smooth or curly with different shades of green and purple.
Green with smooth leaves.
Curly leaf cabbages
The most common cabbages grown in the home garden are green with smooth leaves. Different shades of purple cabbages can give the garden a touch of color. Curly leaf cabbages are usually called savory cabbage, they taste much the same as the common old garden variety.
Cabbages varieties can also include a variation of head shape as with this pointed cabbage where the head is more conical than usual. This variety has a milder flavor and tender texture, ideal for using raw in salads. They must taste pretty good, just ask the caterpillars.
Cabbage planting dates should be planned so that harvest dates occur in cool weather because, like other members of this family, the flavor of a cabbage improves with cooler temperatures.
Cabbage is a cool season vegetable that is able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions including hard frosts.
However in some areas serious protection is needed towards the end.
Growing cabbage in the home garden is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They love a fertile soil that is well drained and rich in organic matter with a pH of 6.0 and above.
Transplant cabbage seedlings into the garden at 4-6 weeks and after they have been hardened off. Seedlings should be transplanted slightly deeper than they were in their pots.
There is a large variation in the size of cabbages with the different
varieties, so space cabbage seedlings out at 12-18 inch (30-45 cm)
intervals in the row, depending on the variety being grown.
Space the rows 24-36 inches (60-90 cm) apart, again depending on the variety of cabbage being grown.
Even though cabbage seedlings are tough, it is best to give them every chance possible for a stress free transition to the garden. Try to transplant them on cloudy, overcast or rainy days. For more details on vegetable seedlings click this link.
When planting in mid-summer for winter harvest if mother nature is being difficult, provide seedlings with good shade.
The most important aspects of caring for cabbages are;
Weed control with any plant that is transplanted really is a breeze by mulching around the plant as soon as it is transplanted . It is not hard to maintain the mulch during the growing cycle.
A good thick layer of mulch will help to maintain weed, moisture and also temperature.
An even soil moisture content throughout the growing cycle, as with most vegetables, is needed. Don’t be afraid to supply lots of water when first transplanting the seedlings, especially if transplanting in the summer. Mulch the seedlings well to conserve moisture.
Although you can’t control how much rain Mother Nature supplies, excess water in the final heading up stage just before harvest can cause heads to split. A good free- draining soil will go a long way to minimize this possibility.
There really isn’t much to do with cabbages once they are established other than watering and keeping a good mulch cover for weed and moisture control. If the bed has been prepared properly, side dressing won’t be necessary.
However, if soil fertility is not at its best, one or two side dressings of blood meal, or similar can be applied at transplanting and again 2-3 weeks later. For more details on suitable fertilizers click this link.
As with all member of this Brassicaceae family, crop rotation is especially important. It is recommended at least 2-4 years between planting any member of this family in the same garden bed.
Aphids, Cabbage Loopers, Cutworms, Diamond Back Moth, Flea Beetles, Harlequin Bug, Imported Cabbageworm, Mites, Root Fly, Slugs, Weevil, Whitefly.
Alternaria Leafspot , Black Leg, Black Rot, Club Root, Damping Off, Downy Mildew, Leaf Spot, Rhizoctonia, Yellows.
Cabbage heads can be harvested anytime after the heads form, but for the highest yield cut them when firm and before the head begins to crack and become spoiled.
Cabbage is an all year round vegetable in many areas when summer and winter protection is used.
Remove all loose leaves when preparing for storage and keep temperature at 32 F (0 C) with a relative humidity of 98-100%.
Late cabbages store best with some varieties keeping 5-6 months.
Cabbage can all be pickled for longer storage but freezing is not successful.