Cabbages are a delicious vegetable filled with vitamins and minerals. This leafy vegetable belongs to the cole crop family, which includes broccoli, brussels sprout, cauliflower, and kale. Cabbages are a popular food used to make salads, wraps, and dishes such as sauerkraut. If you love cabbage, then you may be interesting in learning how to grow this plant in your garden. A great thing about growing cabbage is that it can be fairly easy for the average gardening enthusiast. If you are interested in planting cabbage in your garden, here is an overview of what you need to know to get started.
When to Plant Cabbage
If you have decided to plant cabbage in your garden, you may be wondering when and how to begin growing this plant. Cabbage is a cool-season vegetable best suited to spring and fall, as it thrives in temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees. When growing cabbage in the spring, you can begin sowing seeds outdoors as early as 3-4 weeks before the last frost of spring. Getting the timing right with cabbages is important. If you start too early, your sprouts may not survive. However, start too late and your cabbages will go to seed in the summer heat. It is then important to find the right time to plant cabbages in your area, preferably when you know you will have a few months of moderate temperatures.
- Give Cabbage Room to Grow - A common mistake gardeners make is to underestimate the size that their plants will reach in maturity, and they end up placing seeds too close together. However, this will crowd the cabbages, and not give them adequate space to grow healthy. It is important to remember that cabbages can grow quite large, and you will then want to give 18-24 inches between cabbage plants. This will ensure that there is plenty of room for each plant as they mature. You will want to plant seeds about a quarter of an inch deep in soil.
- Don’t Plant Cabbages Near Relatives - It is important when planting cabbage to not plant it near plants in the same family, such as broccoli or brussel sprouts. Just because two plants are related does not necessarily mean that they should be grown together. The problem is that plants from the same family often drain the same nutrients from the soil, which causes these plants to compete with one another. Additionally, these plants often attract similar pests and diseases, which can make it particularly important to keep these plants separated.Further Advice- You will also want to avoid planting cabbages next to tomatoes and strawberries. If you are looking for something you can plant next to cabbage in your garden, consider adding beets, onions, potatoes, or oregano, all of which do well with cabbage.
- Further Advice - You will also want to avoid planting cabbages next to tomatoes and strawberries. If you are looking for something you can plant next to cabbage in your garden, consider adding beets, onions, potatoes, or oregano, all of which do well with cabbage.
- Regular Watering - With any plant, regular watering will help ensure that they grow healthy. Cabbages in particular require even watering as under-watering will result in stunted heads, and overwatering can cause the cabbage heads to crack. You will then want to make sure that to give your cabbages about 1-2 inches of water per week. Adding a drip irrigation line to your garden could help you to ensure that your cabbages receive a consistent amount of water throughout the growing season.
- Fertilize Cabbages - Cabbages love nitrogen, and thrive in nitrogen rich soil. To give your cabbages the best chance of growing successfully, add nitrogen-rich fertilizer to your soil before planting. Additionally, you may also want to consider adding more of this fertilizer around the plants when the heads first begin to form. Not only will this give your cabbages the best environment to grow in, but also, this can help reduce their risk of developing clubroot disease.
Keeping Your Cabbages Healthy
- Pests - To keep your cabbages healthy, you will want to keep them free of any pests that may attack them. In many cases, this will not require any pesticides. Simply visually inspect your plants on a regular basis, and remove by hand any insects you find. However, if you encounter a heavy infestation, or you want to prevent any insects from damaging your plants in the first place, biweekly sprays with a biological pesticide such as Bacillus thuringiensis can prevent common pests such as cutworms and cabbage worms from attacking your plants.
- Diseases - Cabbages are also commonly attacked by black rot, which can survive in soil for up to 3 years. The best way to prevent black rot in your cabbage is to rotate crops on a 3 year cycle, as this reduces the likelihood that the disease will be present in your soil. Only purchasing seeds that have been hot water treated will also help to prevent disease. If any of your cabbages should become diseased, remove and destroy the diseased plants immediately to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants.
Once your cabbages have grown, it is important to be able to tell when they are ready to be harvested. Just because they look ready, this does not necessarily mean that they are done growing. The best way to tell if a cabbage is ready for harvest is to gently squeeze it. If it feels nice and firm, then it is ready and should be harvested as soon as possible. Cut the cabbage at the base with a sharp knife, and bring it indoors to be stored in a cool place. Cabbages can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but are best enjoyed when they are fresh.