How To Grow Cabbage
Cabbage is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be a fantastic addition to your garden. If you're looking to learn how to grow cabbage, you've come to the right place. In this post, we'll cover everything from choosing the right variety to planting, caring for, and harvesting cabbage plants. So whether you're a beginner or an intermediate grower, let's dive in and get your garden growing!
Choosing the right cabbage variety:
Before you start planting, it's essential to choose the right cabbage variety for your garden. There are several types of cabbage to consider, including green, red, and Savoy cabbage. Each variety has its own unique flavour, texture, and growing requirements, so consider your climate, available space, and personal preferences when making your selection.
When and how to plant cabbage:
Cabbage is a cool-season crop, which means it grows best in cooler temperatures. In most climates, it's best to plant cabbage in early spring for a summer harvest or in late summer for a fall harvest. However, if you live in a very mild climate, you may be able to grow cabbage throughout the winter.
To plant your cabbage, first prepare the soil by adding compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage. Choose a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Growing cabbage from seed:
Growing cabbage from seed is an economical way to start your plants, and it allows you to select from a wider range of varieties. To grow cabbage from seed, follow these steps:
- Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your intended planting date. Plant the seeds about 1 cm deep in seed trays or pots filled with seed compost.
- Keep the compost moist, and place the trays or pots in a warm, well-lit location. Seedlings should emerge within 7-14 days.
- Once the seedlings have developed two sets of true leaves, transplant them into larger pots to give them room to grow.
- Harden off your cabbage seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for a week or two before planting them in the garden.
- When transplanting your seedlings into the garden, space them about 45 cm apart for smaller varieties and up to 60 cm apart for larger varieties, with rows 60-90 cm apart. This spacing will provide each cabbage plant with enough room to grow and help prevent diseases caused by overcrowding.
Caring for your cabbage plants:
To ensure a successful cabbage harvest, it's essential to care for your plants properly. Here's how to keep your cabbage plants healthy and productive:
- Watering: Cabbage requires consistent moisture, so water your plants regularly, aiming for 2-3 cm of water per week. Water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves, which can encourage disease.
- Fertilizing: Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks to promote healthy growth and a bountiful harvest.
- Pest control: Keep an eye out for common cabbage pests such as cabbage worms, aphids, and flea beetles. If you notice any pests, use a natural insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat the infestation. Encourage beneficial insects, like ladybugs and lacewings, to help with pest control.
- Disease prevention: To prevent diseases such as clubroot, black rot, and downy mildew, practice good garden hygiene by removing plant debris, and avoiding overwatering or wetting the foliage. If you notice any signs of disease, remove affected plants or leaves promptly to prevent it from spreading.
- Support: Some cabbage varieties, especially those with large, heavy heads, may require support. Use garden stakes or cages to keep the plants upright and prevent them from toppling over.
Knowing when and how to harvest your cabbage is essential for enjoying its fresh, delicious taste. Cabbage is typically ready to harvest 80-180 days after planting, depending on the variety. Harvest cabbage when the head is firm and reaches the desired size, but before it begins to crack or split.
To harvest, use a sharp knife to cut the cabbage head from the plant, leaving a few outer leaves attached to protect the head. Be sure to harvest in the morning for the best taste and texture.
Tips for a successful cabbage harvest:
- After harvesting the main head, some cabbage varieties will continue to produce smaller side heads or "cabbagettes." Regularly harvest these smaller heads to encourage further production.
- Keep an eye on the weather, as high temperatures or prolonged periods of rain can cause the heads to become loose, split, or "bolt" (go to seed) prematurely.
- Store harvested cabbage in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or blanch and freeze it for long-term storage.
Growing cabbage in your garden is a rewarding and healthy endeavour. By following these tips on how to grow cabbage, from selecting the right variety to planting, caring for, and harvesting your plants, you'll be well on your way to enjoying fresh, homegrown cabbage. Remember that proper care, regular watering, and timely harvesting are the keys to a successful cabbage harvest. Happy gardening!