I received a recent request from a gardener asking for tips on growing cabbages in the home garden. Cabbage is a cole crop that’s closely related to kale, collards, broccoli, and Brussels Sprouts.
Instead of forming loose leaves along its stem the cabbage leaves wrap around and fold over each other to form a dense head of layered leaves. Cabbages are heavy feeders and appreciate a fertile soil enriched with good compost or a balanced organic fertilizer.
Tips for Growing Delicious Cabbage Heads
Cabbages grow best during cool weather and are usually planted as a spring or fall crop to avoid growing during the heat of summer. While the cabbage seeds can be sown directly into the garden’s soil, you’ll get better results from seedlings started indoors under lights or purchased as transplants.
Plant the seeds indoors about four to six weeks before you intend to set them out into the garden. Cabbage plants are frost tolerant and can be planted in the garden very early in the spring. For a fall crop transplant the seedlings into the garden during mid to late summer depending on the variety and the recommended days to maturity.
The key to growing great cabbages is to provide a rich soil and to irrigate as required to insure that the plants have all the nutrients and moisture needed for rapid and uninterrupted growth.
Terrific Cabbage Varieties for the Home Garden
For the home gardener, and for growing cabbages in raised beds I prefer the smaller sized varieties such as Early Jersey Wakefield, Red Acre, Greyhound, Winningstadt, Cour Di Blue, and Golden Acre, which all produce sweet and tender, compact heads that can be spaced closer together in the garden.
For larger cabbages and fall harvests plant Mammoth Red Rock, Brunswick, Premium Late Flat Dutch, Copenhagen Market, or one of the many Savoy varieties such as January King, Vertus, Perfection Drumhead, or Chieftain.
Care and Harvesting of Organic Cabbages
Heads can be harvested whenever they reach the desired size but will also hold nicely in the garden after the cabbages reach maturity.
Heads left in the garden too long will often begin to split. You can slow maturity and delay splitting by pruning the roots. Simply drive a spade into the soil around the heads to sever the roots of the growing cabbage plants.
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