How to Grow Cabbage

Cabbage is a delicious and compact crop that can be grown in most gardens. Cabbage has many health benefits and is known for its beautiful garden appearance and delicious crunch. It’s high in Vitamin B, Niacin, Iron, Calcium, and Protein. Growing cabbage can help reduce inflammation, improve digestion, lower blood cholesterol, and boost your heart health. This guide can help you learn how to grow cabbage in your garden and reap many of its benefits.

How Does Cabbage Grow?

Cabbage plants have broad leaves and an upright habit, creating a densely packed ball at the center of the leaf. These plants can be grown year after season. As plants mature, they will develop a variety of leaf shapes, textures, and colors.

Light and Temperature Requirements for Growing Cabbage

Place cabbage in an area of your garden that gets full sun for at least 6-8 hours each day. This is particularly important as cabbage is usually grown in the spring and autumn when the sun is less intense, and the sky is not as bright. This vigorous grower requires as much solar energy as possible to reach its full potential.

Cabbage is a cool-weather crop that performs well and should only be planted at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and grown at 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Many varieties can withstand temperatures as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit, while others can survive temperatures as low as 20-30 degrees. On the other hand, some varieties can withstand heat really well. However, most types will die if exposed to extreme heat and sun. For information on the variety or varieties you are growing, always check the grow tags and planting instructions on your seed packets.

How to Grow Cabbage

Cabbage is part of the same family as broccoli and cauliflower and is so rewarding to grow. You can sow seeds directly in the garden bed or start them indoors.

You can buy already-grown cabbage plants from your local nursery or garden center. Different varieties of cabbage plants can be assimilated into different growing seasons, but make sure to check your planting information before growing or planting any seeds. These are the essential planting guidelines to grow this super-productive crop.

How to Directly Sow Cabbage Seeds

  • For a spring crop, sow seeds directly in the soil.
  • Place seeds 6 inches apart in rows 18-24 inches apart.
  • Sprinkle seeds lightly in a 1/2-inch deep line and cover with a thin layer of soil.
  • Water well and frequently
  • Thin seedlings out 18-24 apart once they start to sprout.

How to Start Cabbage Seeds Indoors

Start cabbage seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your region for a spring crop or 6-8 weeks ahead of the first fall frost for fall crops. You should harden your seedlings for a few days before they go outside to allow them to adjust to the outdoor environment. After the danger of frost has passed, you can transplant your seedlings into the ground.

How to Transplant Cabbage Seedlings

Use the following steps to transplant cabbage seedlings you have purchased at a nursery or garden center into your garden:

  • Dig holes twice as big as the root ball of the plant.
  • Place seedlings in rows 18-24 inches apart.
  • Secure roots by covering the root ball with fertile soil and pressing down hard.
  • Ensure the soil around the roots is secure and water it well

Growing Cabbage in Pots, Containers, and Raised Beds

This amazing crop can be grown almost anywhere. Cabbage plants grow just as well in gardens as they do when planted individually in pots, containers, and raised garden beds.

Watering Cabbage

To maintain a steady growth rate, cabbage plants must be watered frequently to keep the soil moist. A lack of water can lead to cabbage plants becoming stunted, resulting in bitter-tasting cabbages. Use organic mulch to retain moisture and prevent weeds from competing for nutrients and water.

Nutrients and Cabbage

Cabbage is a strong feeder, so you must frequently amend your soil. Give plants a side-dressing with fertilizer, compost, or other nutrients, and amend your soil with well-decomposed compost, worm castings, blood meal, bat guano, and fish meal. You can also plant nitrogen-fixing legumes with cabbage plants to enrich your soil.

Common Cabbage Plant Diseases & Pests

Cabbage is loved by pests as much as gardeners. Some garden pests may love cabbage plants and will eat your delicious greens. You can use organic gardening methods such as row covers and complementary methods to prevent the spread of pests on your cabbage plants. You can also interplant marigolds as a companion plant to help with the following pests.

  • Slugs – You can either pick slugs by hand or make slug traps using a pie plate. Make sure the plate’s edge is flush with the soil and filled with beer to trap slugs.
  • Cabbage Loopers – You can use netting and row covers to stop cabbage loopers from destroying your cabbage plants. You should keep an eye on your crops and remove any caterpillars from your plants.
  • Caterpillars – Stop butterflies from nesting on cabbage plants with butterfly netting and row covers.
  • Whiteflies – Get sticky whitefly traps from your local nursery or gardening center. The bright yellow color attracts whiteflies, which will get stuck on the sticky surface. You can also introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, into your garden to feed on whiteflies.
  • Aphids – Plant nasturtium plants near the plant to trap aphids. You can also use a strong spray of water to get them away from your plants.
  • Flea Beetles – Plant mint nearby to repel flea beetles from your crops.

How to Harvest Cabbage

Each cabbage plant produces one harvestable, compact-leaved cabbage. This cabbage forms in the middle of each plant. Look for cabbage plants with tightly-layered and firm heads to harvest. The stem should be cut just below the head, and the rest of the plant should be left intact. Although most cabbage plants produce only one cabbage, smaller cabbage heads often develop close to the base of the harvested heads, doubling your chances of reaping more later. Cabbage is very versatile and can be stored for many years.

Choose the Best Cabbage Varieties To Grow

There are many varieties of cabbage available, with various colors and leaf and head shapes. Some popular types include:

  • ‘Golden Acre’
  • ‘Savoy’
  • ‘Brunswick’
  • ‘Earliana’
  • ‘Napa Barrelhead’
  • ‘Napa Red Dragon’
  • ‘Chinese Pak Choi’

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