Cabbage

 

IMPORTANT
Please DO NOT use Genetically Modified Seeds. Ask your seed provider and if they cannot give you written proof, do not buy the seed. 

Try to save your own seed that you know is safe and you will get more money for your vegetables if they are organically grown, which means no pesticide use for the previous 5 years.

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How to Grow Cabbage

Tip: Want to print these instructions? Download the printer-friendly version here.

 

Botanical name: Brassica oleracea var. capitata

Vegetable type: USDA Hardiness Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral


Cabbage is a hardy, leafy vegetable full of vitamins. It can be difficult to grow; it only likes cool temperatures, and it can be a magnet for some type of pests. By planning your growing season and providing diligent care, you may have two successful crops in one year, both spring and fall. Many varieties are available to suit both your growing conditions and taste preferences.

Planting

Start cabbage seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. See frost dates for your area here.

Harden off plants over the course of a week. To prepare soil, till in aged manure or compost.

Transplant outdoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last expected frost date. Choose a cloudy afternoon.

Plant 12 to 24 inches apart in rows, depending on size of head desired. The closer you plant, the smaller the heads.

Mulch thickly to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

Practice crop rotation with cabbage year to year to avoid a buildup of soil borne diseases.

Although broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are closely related, cabbage will not tolerate them. Also avoid proximity to strawberries and tomatoes.

Cabbage can be grown near beans and cucumbers.

Check out our chart of plant companions for an expanded list of friends and foes.

Care

When transplants reach 5 inches tall, thin to make sure they are still the desired length apart. (The plants you remove can be transplanted elsewhere in your garden.)

Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting with the compost you have made.

Keep soil moist with mulch and water 2 inches per week.

Pests

Imported Cabbageworms

Aphids

Cabbage Root Maggots

Flea Beetles

Splitting

Harvest/Storage

Harvest when heads reach desired size and are firm. This will take around 70 days for most green cabbage varieties. Most early varieties will produce 1- to 3-pound heads.

Cut each cabbage head at its base with a sharp knife. After harvesting, bring inside or put in shade immediately.

To get two crops from early cabbage plants, cut the cabbage head out of the plant, leaving the outer leaves and root in the garden. The plant will send up new heads—pinch them off until only four or so smaller heads remain. When these grow to tennis-ball size, they’ll be perfect for salad.

After harvesting, remove the entire stem and root system from the soil to prevent disease buildup. Only compost healthy plants; destroy those with maggot infestation.

Cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two weeks, wrapped lightly in plastic. Make sure it is dry before storing. In proper root cellar conditions, cabbage will keep for up to 3 months. See our article on root cellars.