Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a lot of recipes. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it is also surprisingly easy to grow and perfect for beginners starting their vegetable garden.
History of Cabbage
Cabbage has a long history. It has been used since 4,000 BC in Eastern cultures, and was commonly cultivated in Northern China.
The ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamia also grew cabbages at various points in their history.
Different Types of Cabbage
There are several different types of cabbage.
The green cabbage is one of the more common ones, and it is often used in soups.
Savoy cabbage is a lacey, loose-leafed cabbage with a short shelf life that is popular in Polish and Czech dishes.
Red cabbage is a delicious vegetable that changes color depending on the type of ground it is grown in. It is often added to coleslaws to accent the flavor.
Spring cabbage is smaller than other varieties, but is incredibly nutrient dense and is popular in recipes for hearty meat dishes.
Chinese cabbage is a delicious cabbage with succulent leaves and a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
How easy is cabbage to grow?
It is very easy to grow cabbage. Some people will buy transplants from local growers, while others buy seeds to sow.
Both options are quite easy. If you live in a colder climate, start the seeds indoors and move them outside just before the frost passes.
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Where to plant cabbage
Cabbage prefers cool temperatures. It is best to plant them near beans or cucumbers, and away from cauliflower and broccoli, because they require similar nutrients.
Choose nutrient-rich, moist soil and mulch it and add manure or compost if necessary.
Start the cabbage seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost, harden the plants off over a period of about a week, and then transplant them outdoors in the last couple of weeks of frost.
Ideally, do the transplanting on a cloudy afternoon and water them well for the first few days to get them established.
How to grow cabbage from seed
The best time to plant cabbage is in the spring. Start them indoors and harden them before transplanting.
When you transplant your seeds outdoors, place them 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on how big of a head you want the cabbage to have.
Mulch the soil quite thickly to ensure that it has enough moisture and the temperature is steady.
When to plant out cabbage seedlings
Give your seeds five to six weeks to grow indoors, and in the last week harden them to colder temperatures before you move them outside.
When you transplant them, surround the transplants with mulch, and monitor them for growth. Check that the plants are still the right distance apart once they reach five inches tall.
Fertilize your plants about three weeks after you transplant them.
Growing cabbage in containers
You can grow cabbage in containers, however you will need to make sure that the container is big enough to allow the head to grow.
For large-headed plants, the cabbage should be kept 24 inches apart.
The soil must be watered two inches each week, and kept covered with mulch, and out of direct sun while the plants are still young.
Common pests and diseases
Cabbage attracts aphids, maggots, beetles, and cutworms.
For this reason you should keep them away from strawberries and other plants that attract similar pests. In addition, rotate the crops you plant year to year.
Growing cabbages in the colder seasons helps to reduce pest pressure.
Protecting cabbage from bugs organically
Plant dill to protect your cabbage, since this attracts wasps that will kill the pests that damage the cabbage.
Nets and neem oil spray can be a deterrent too. If you plant your cabbage during colder seasons this will deter a lot of pests.
How long does it take from sowing to harvest?
You can expect it to take about ten weeks for your cabbage to reach maturity.
How do I know cabbage is ready to eat?
The size of a cabbage head can vary significantly, and is not an indicator that the cabbage is ready to harvest.
You can tell whether the cabbage is ready based on how solid the head is. If the head is firm all the way through, this means it is ready to pick.
Cabbage will store for about two weeks in the fridge, if wrapped in plastic.
You can keep it for up to three months in a proper root cellar, as long as it is dry when you store it.