How to Grow Cabbages

March 03, 2009

I have to recommend cabbages as good to grow...

I’ve decided I have to recommend cabbages as good to grow, although some people say they find them difficult. These people, I suspect, are the old-style gardeners who like to see rows of enormous cabbages sitting there throughout the winter...
The real truth of the matter is that cabbages are so varied in type and season and so useful in the kitchen that they really are worth a little trouble.
You have to find out which cabbage types grow well in your part of the world – and work out which seasons you want them for. Ask at your local plant nursery or do a little research online.

There are basically three kinds of cabbage –
Spring – you plant these in the early winter (with fleece or other protection if needed)
Summer/Fall – you plant these in the spring and early summer
Winter – you plant these in the fall –
And there are many different shapes, sizes and varieties of cabbages – so choose the ones you love to eat from red cabbage to Chinese; there are a lot of options.
You can buy little cabbage plants from plant nurseries, locally or online – just a rooted stalk and a couple of leaves, which can be planted in modest sized flowerpots, or if the weather is pleasant, straight into rows in your vegetable patch.
Most of them will take around three months to mature, but then they will sit patiently growing until you have a use for them.
You pick some when small and young and you leave others for a few weeks to grow bigger (and tougher).
Of course, if you're a sensible gardener you sow a few every fortnight for successive cutting.

Very rarely a nasty condition will manifest itself in a garden, going under the name of club root.
If by an unhappy chance this condition is present in your patch of garden then the best thing to do is simply grow your cabbages in pots (but it is rare, and a friendly gardening neighbour can always be consulted if you have any worries).
More of a problem is the pretty ‘Cabbage White’ butterfly which lays its neat little rows of eggs under the outer leaves. These in due course hatch into caterpillars with a devastating appetite for your cabbages, and while a few holes punctured in a leaf can be tolerated, something that has munched its way straight through the heart of the plant cannot, so be vigilant, and when you see them simply rub the lines of eggs off the leaves.
As always,
Happy horticulture,