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CABBAGE (Brassica oleracea)

Requires six hours or more of strong, direct sun per day. Full Sun
Requires six hours or more
of strong, direct sun per day.
Requires two to six hours of direct sun per day. Part Shade
Requires two to six hours
of direct sun per day.


CABBAGE (Brassica oleracea)The Cabbage plant grows well only where there is a good supply of moisture and the weather is cool; extremely dry spells or intense heat will kill off plant growth, unless a heavy mulch or other protective measures are used.

Cabbage can thrive in almost any kind of soil, but prefers one enriched with well-rotted animal manure. It is best to cover the entire part of the garden which is to be used for the cabbage with the manure. It can be spread at least three inches thick and then plowed under.

This method of soil preparation should be undertaken about two weeks before the cabbage plants are ready to be set out in the garden. Decayed leaves are also a good fertilizer provided they are buried deep enough in the garden.

Beneficial companion plants

Certain plants are beneficial to cabbage and all cole crops for both growth and insect control. They are: potatoes, celery, dill, chamomile, sage, thyme, mint, pennyroyal, rosemary, lavender, beets and onions. For information on other vegetable companion plants see the companion planting chart.

Planting Cabbage

Many gardeners prefer to grow their own cabbage plants from seed. The seeds will last about four years. The early varieties grown from seed should, of course, get an early start in the greenhouse, or in a cool room or cellar. In such cases, the seed is sown in fine soil in flats or in pots.

Gardener's Tip:
Time the sowing of your fall cabbage plantings so that they are actively growing when it is time to harvest them. A good rule of thumb is to start seedlings in May/June then transplant them to the garden in July/August.

The time to sow Cabbage seed

In the northern states, this can be done in February or March. The seed-sowing should be timed six weeks or at least a month ahead of the time at which the plants are to be set out in the garden. Much depends upon the climate in the various states when figuring the time for seed planting.

moonGROW Advice
If you are gardening by moon phases Cabbage should be planted when the moon is in the 2nd Quarter (i.e. waxing) and in one of the following Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Libra, Taurus
Also, the soil in which the seeds are planted should not be too rich, or the seedlings will grow too fast and become "leggy. Check the moon phase planting zones chart for the frost free and moon phase dates in your area.

The later varieties of cabbage are handled in the same way except that the flats or boxes are kept outside instead of under glass. When the seedlings reach a height of three or four inches, they should be pricked out and replanted in flats or boxes some distance farther apart. This action will assure the grower of good stocky plants.

Setting Cabbage plants

When transplanting seedlings into the garden, a good deal depends upon the variety chosen. The early varieties are best set 14 inches apart in rows 28 inches apart. Mid season varieties should be planted 16 inches apart in rows 28 inches apart; and the late varieties, 24 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart.

Early varieties of Cabbage

Set out the early varieties as soon as danger of frost is over and the moon phase is correct. Depending on the variety, it takes up to 67 plants of the early types to fill a 100-foot row.

Late varieties of Cabbage

The late varieties should be planted not later than August 1 in the northern states. For the later types, 40 plants per row are enough. A 100-foot row will produce enough cabbage for a family of five.

Storing Cabbage

Late varieties of cabbage can be salvaged way into the winter. Pull the entire plant and stack each one upside down in a protected corner of the yard. Cover the cabbage pile with a foot layer of leaves or straw. Perfectly good cabbage heads will then be easily available for consumption anytime during the following winter or early spring.

Varieties of Cabbage

Disease-resistant early varieties include Golden Acre, Marion Market, Stonehead Hybrid, and Early Jersey Wakefield. Savoy King is a heat-resistant variety which produces tender heads. Danish Ballhead is a favorite winter variety. Savoy King Hybrid is a high yielder and is heat resistant. Ruby Ball is a short-growing red cabbage variety, well known for its firm, round heads.

See also: Chinese Cabbage - bok-choy, pak-choi, celery cabbage.

Spring Gardening
Copyright© 2016 Gene DeFazzio
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