Cabbages are the fourth most produced vegetable in the United States but most people tend to grow the same varieties. Cabbages are categorized by head shape, the most commonly grown being flat-head and round. Cabbage comes in green, white and purple varieties. Cabbage growing is relatively easy and here are some tips to get you started!
Preparing the Soil
Cabbages need to be planted in firm soil so it's best not to dig up the soil for a few months before planting the cabbages. Choose a sunny spot which has not had any brassica (cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, swede or other hardy plants) planted within the past few years. Choose a spot with full sun or light shade for successful cabbage growing.
Work some compost or manure into your chosen spot. Apply a fertilizer a week before planting the cabbages. Remove any stones or weeds with a rake just before planting.
Planting the Cabbages
It is best to space your cabbage rows six inches apart and sow the seeds thinly at a depth of about half an inch. Thin the seedlings to a foot apart so they don't become thin or weak. You can use the seedlings for spring greens.
Water the cabbages if the weather is dry and hoe them carefully to get rid of weeds. A good cabbage growing technique is to water the cabbages evenly so they don't split. When the heads start to form, you can apply a liquid fertilizer. If it is windy, you can mound the soil upwards towards the stems to protect the cabbages.
Cabbages are ready to be harvested when they are firm to the touch and the heads are fully formed. Leave the wide, outer leaves and only cut the head. If you are growing spring or summer varieties, you can make an X in the stump and grow a second crop of cabbages from these. Cabbages should all be harvested in November and stored for winter use. Place them stem side up in a box lined with straw, and keep them somewhere between freezing and 45ºF. That way, they should keep until March.
The main cabbage growing pest threat comes from cabbage worms. They are the same color as some types of cabbage but you can see them quite easily and pick them off by hand.
Easy Cabbage Varieties to Grow
Red Acre and Red Delight are easy to grow purple cabbage varieties. Late Flat Dutch and Early Jersey Wakefield are also straightforward to grow and are very popular.
Cabbage growing is a lot of fun and can also be very rewarding when you present your friends and family with your tasty produce! There are thousands of delicious recipes calling for cabbage. Cabbage lasts for about a week so if you have a lot of cabbage, you can freeze it by choosing crisp heads and shredding them. Blanch the cabbage for a minute, cool and pack into freezer bags.
If you have some spare space in your garden, why not have a go at cabbage growing!