GROWING CABBAGE IS NOT HARD WITH PROPER CULTURE AND CORRECT VARIETY
Growing cabbage is found to be a very hardy vegetable. Cabbage grows especially well in the home vegetable garden in very fertile soils. Cabbage plants have a large range of color from many shades of green all the way to purple. The leaf varies from smooth to crinkled and with heads that are round,flat or pointed. The maturity goes from 55-130 days. The most common growing cabbage is of course the green round head found in most vegetable gardening and in the grocery store.
Cabbage is high in vitamin C and B along with minerals and is an excellent source of calcium. The calorie watchers will love this vegetable since a one-half cup serving of raw cabbage contains only twelve to fifteen calories.This does not include dressing and butter just so you will not get too excited.
Cabbage is basically a cool season crop but has the ability to grow almost anywhere since it can adapt to a wide variety of both soil and climate. Growing cabbage does best in a cool and moist climate 59-65 degrees F. If you have a well hardened plant it maybe able to briefly withstand temperatures below 20 degrees F but I believe this will depend on the type of cabbage that has been planted. Protecting your plants is important and GARDENS ALIVE has what you need just click on the banner below.
The picture here is of your typical green cabbage obviously this type of growing cabbage is seen more often in the home vegetable gardening then the red or savoy types. However red cabbage is coming on as the color of the cabbage that lends itself to use in salads and cooked dishes. The savoy varieties are used mostly for slaw and salads. I will discuss later the indiviual types of cabbage I feel suitable for growing in your home vegetable gardening.
HOW TO WORK WITH GROWING CABBAGE TRANSPLANTS
Contrary to many other vegetable plantings cabbage is not normally planted directly into the soil.This would be so in early growing cabbage since the heads must mature before the heat of the summer sun. The late cabbage that is started in the mid summer heat can be started from seed in the soil.The main head from this late planting develops during the cool weather of fall.Now you can either start your transplants from seeds or purchase them from your local garden shop. If you procure them from the garden shop make sure your transplants are at least 6-8 weeks old. If you start your transplants from seed indoors make sure you start your seeds 8-10 weeks before planting them outside.
If you are starting your growing cabbage from seed then you must start your seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost. The seeds should be planted in a sterile starting mixed about one-half inch deep. The planted seeds should be watered thoroughly during this period. They are best sown in a flat or a cell planter with one seed to the cell. Cabbage is a very quick germinator requiring only 2 days before emerging from the starting mix. After your seeds have sprouted keep the soil moist provide a good source of light either by plant lights or a good southern exposure. It would be a good idea to consult seed starting by clicking here which provides many details about planting containers and lights required. A half strength fertilizer will do best feeding your plants every two weeks.
Once the plant has produced at least two *"true leaves"it will be ready for hardening off.**The cotyledons,which is the leaf that forms after germination,"not the true leaves" is commonly called the seed leaf. A cotyledon can be viewed in a developing tomato plant to the left. The cotyledon will wither away and what are called first leaves or true leaves will form. Now thehardening off period should start in a brightly lite area outside but not in the direct sun.You can start with two hours a day and slowly move them into the direct sun and gradually increase the time by two hours a day until they can remain outdoors overnight. If you plant Chinese cabbage it is best started as direct seed in the garden about four weeks before the last frost date.
SPACING IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR GROWING CABBAGE
Your garden cabbage should be spaced in rows 18-24 inches apart with the actual plant 12-18 inches apart in the rows. If you plant them closer the heads will be compact and definitely smaller. Here comes the rub. You can use newspaper or wax paper in three inch wide pieces wrapped twice around the stem of the plant to prevent those nasty cutworms from damaging your hard work. There is more information about cutworms including a nice picture just click here and it will bring you back when you are ready. You must have at least two inches of the paper buried in the ground. An insecticide for cutworms or root feeders can be mix with starter solution and applied at plant time. I personally think the paper method is better because you may end up applying it again resulting in more maintenance.
GROWING CABBAGE REQUIRES A HIGH LEVEL OF PHOSPHORUS
A high level of phosphorus will be required in your soil. A soil test would be best to determine the level either by a test kit from your local garden shop or extension service. It will not be necessary to soil test each season because the phosphorus changes little from season to season. If a soil test reveals or you don't bother with a soil test add two pounds of a high phosphorus such as 8-32-16 and the 32 being the phosphorus. I would add the two pound at the rate per 100 square foot of soil surface. It also depends on how much room you are devoting to the growing cabbage project.
There is another effective way to apply the fertilizer after transplanting if you don't use the method described above. The use of one cup for a fifty foot row or less if your row is not going to be that long use 12-12-12 fertilizer. The phosphrous being the middle number as in the example above. Now here is the interesting part of this application. Take a spade or garden shovel and dig a trench four inches away from your transplants and four or five inches deep on both sides of the row. Then commence with spreading your fertilizer as evenly as possible in the trench on both sides of the row. Then fill your trench with the soil you removed when making the trench.
Your growing cabbage uses lots and lots of water. Soil moisture should should be maintained at about 60%. I know you are saying to yourself how am I going to judge a moisture content of 60%. You delay watering until the top one inch of the soil has dried and then you water thoroughly. The experience of long dry spells has told us that this severly reduces head weights during the head development stages. The other thing to watch are heavy rains just at harvest time following a long dry spell which may result in split heads. The reason for this terrible result is the abundance of water now available causing the plant cells to burst. If there is a need to have the heads remain in the garden after these rains,you need to make a vertical cut 5-6 inches on all four sides of your growing cabbage. This will sever some roots and decrease the water uptake.
The types I have listed here are resistant to FUSARIUM WILT A good explanation of this disease can be found At plant diseases by clicking here after you have reviewed the data it will bring you back to here.
- GREEN CABBAGE
- Cheers:harvest in 75 days good solid round heads tolerant to black rot and thrips
- Early Jersey Wakefield: harvest in 63 days pointed heads and resists splitting
- King Cole: harvest in 74 days large and firm with uniformity in heads.
- RED CABBAGE
- Red Meteor:harvest in 75 days very firm good in any season
- Ruby Ball:harvest in 71 days a huge 4 pounds,slow to split resists heat and cold
- SAVOY CABBAGE
- Savoy King:harvest in 85 days is very dark green and very uniform
- SAvoy Queen:harvest in 88 days can attain 5 pounds excellent heat resistance
There are of course many many other varieties of cabbage but I have found these to be the best.One of those being Chinese cabbage as pictured earlier on this page. A spring crop can be grown from transplants in set out in early spring 50-60 days from placement in the garden. The fall crop seed is usually sown 60-80 days before frost.
GROWING CABBAGE AND OTHER DISEASES/INSECTS
There are two other plant diseases which impacts your growing cabbage. They are blackleg and black rot. These two diseases can result in huge losses to your crop especially if you intend to grow only a few heads. Blackleg derives its name from the black cankers on the stem. The tap root often rots away from this disease.
Black rot makes large v-shaped yellow to brown sections on the leaves beginning at the leaf edge. The veins of the leaves turn black and is often followed by soft rot of the plant.You must control these two diseases if you want your plants to survive. Control is the same for both of these diseases ensure that you are buying seed that has been hot water treated to kill all disease organisms. In this regard don't purchase transplants that are wilted,have a shade of green that appears unhealthy,or that leaves or stems have black spots.
Your best defense,if found in your home vegetable gardening is to immediately collect the leaves,tops,and stems and get rid of them. Please don't place these disease parts in your compost pile unless you have this desire to recycle the disease. Other things to be avoided is overwatering,soil is not well drained,or inadequate insect control. The cabbage looper,thrips,and aphids are big fans of growing cabbage these can all be found at the insect review just click on this and when you are finished reviewing it will bring you back to here. GROWING CABBAGE AND A LITTLE HARVEST INFORMATION
Cabbage can be harvested at any point after the heads are totally formed. The best yield will occur when the heads are solid as in firm to the touch. Here is a little known tip;after picking your mature heads from spring planting you can later enjoy a harvest of small heads commonly referred to as cabbage sprouts. The sprouts form on the stumps of the cut stems. You cut your mature head as close to the soil as possible leaving the loose outer leaves intact. The sprouts that will grow here in the loose leaves usually become two to four inches in diameter and should be picked as they firm. So growing cabbage can be fun and provide you with a nice fresh selection.
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