When learning how to grow cabbage, sow 3 or 4 seeds per pot, 5mm (¼”) deep, under very bright light. Thin to the strongest plant. Space transplants 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 60-90cm (24-36″) apart.
Days to Maturity
From transplant date.
Ideal pH: 6.5-7.0. Cabbage does best in humus-rich soil amended with composted manure. Mix ½ cup complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each transplant. If growth slows, side dress with a little more balanced organic fertilizer. Heads of early varieties can split from over-maturity, rapid growth after heavy rain, or irrigation after dry spells. Splits can be delayed by twisting the plant or cultivating deeply next to plants in order to break roots and slow growth. Fall and winter varieties stand in the garden longer without splitting. If direct sown, add 20-25 days to the maturity date.
If cabbages won’t form heads, it may be from an imbalance of too much nitrogen in the soil in relation to phosphorus. Cabbages require cool temperatures to form heads well. Hot weather can interfere with the development of heads.
Cabbage heads are ready when they’re firm to the touch, and when the interior is fairly dense. Heads will split when they’re allowed to overly mature. Rapid growth due to excess watering and fertility will also cause splitting of the head. Plant early, mid-season and late varieties to spread out your harvest. Late varieties tend to be better for storage or for making sauerkraut. Early (summer harvest) varieties tend not to store as well.
In optimum conditions at least 80% of seeds should germinate. Uual seed life: 3 years.
Purple blotch (Alternaria porri) – Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so plant parts above the ground dry as quickly as possible. Allow for air circulation, and avoid crowding plants. Pull weeds around plants and garden area to increase air circulation. When plants are not wet, remove and destroy affected plant parts. In autumn rake and destroy all fallen or diseased leaves and fruit.
Clubroot – If soil infested, add lime to raise soil pH to 7.2. Practice strict crop rotation. If that is not possible, remove infested soil and replace with fresh soil. Purchase healthy transplants or start seed in sterile potting mix or fresh ground. Remove and discard or destroy entire infested plants along with immediately surrounding soil and soil clinging to roots.
Flea Beetles – Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in mid-summer. Control weeds.
Cutworms – Control weeds. Cardboard collars around each plant give good protection.
Cabbage root maggot – White maggot larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants later on. Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage.
Cabbageworms – Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.
Cabbage aphids – A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.
All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage. Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes. These plants in the Solanum group thrive in slightly acidic soil, as does the fungus that causes clubroot.
Download this Guide to Companion Planting booklet for more information, planting tips, and a helpful chart that indicates both companion and rival plants in the garden.
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