Cabbage should be planted to mature during cool weather. You can grow spring and fall crops where the cool but frost-free growing season is five months or more in length. Cabbages need a sunny site and firm soil. Prepare the soil in fall by adding well-rotted manure or garden compost and then leave it over winter to consolidate. Before planting cabbages, make sure the soil is well firmed by shuffling along the surface on your heels, then rake it flat.
Cabbages contain a fair amount of vitamin C with smaller quantities of vitamins A and B and also calcium and iron. Cabbage can ward off such ailments as stomach ulcers, headaches, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancers. For any of you that suffer from sore muscles, cabbage has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, due to amino-acids it contains.
Traditionally, cabbages should be sown in prepared seed beds, a site away from your main vegetable plot, then transplanted later in the season. This is because sowing cabbages at their final spacings in your main vegetable plot would take up a lot of room early in the growing season. Sow your cabbages into your main vegetable plot, at their final spacings, which is 30-45cm (12-18in) between plants and rows, depending on the cabbage type. To provide cabbages throughout the year, seeds need to be sown at different times.
All the groups of cabbages are grown in exactly the same way, just the sowing times vary.
– Spring cabbage: Sow in July/August; transplant in September/October.
– Summer cabbage: Sow from late February/early March (under cloches or similar cover) until early May; transplant in May/June.
– Winter cabbages: Sow in April/May; transplant in late June/July.
Red cabbages are usually grown for pickling. Sow in spring for autumn use eventually spacing the plants 45cm apart. A summer sowing will provide much larger heads the following year. These plants are better after they have been touched by frost. Similar to green cabbage, but with dark reddish-purple leaves. We think the flavor is a little deeper and earthier.
Transplant the young plants to their final growing position when plants have five or six true leaves, setting the lowest leaves at ground level. Water well the day before moving, firm in well after transplanting. When the heads begin to form, generous watering will greatly improve head size. Late cabbages need extra nitrogen and more potash to enable them to withstand winter weather. Spring cabbages can be helped by applying a dusting of nitro-chalk along the rows.
Each of the varieties of cabbage had a different flavor and texture.
‘Duncan’ AGM: A spring cabbage which produces a plentiful crop of small, pointed mid-green heads.
‘Kilaxy’: This summer cabbage has good club-root resistance and has tasty firm, compact heads ready from late summer to autumn.
‘Protovoy’ AGM: This is a winter Savoy cabbage with dark green outer leaves and solid hearts.
‘January King 3’: A winter cabbage with attractive red-tinged leaves. It stands well over winter.
Savoy Cabbage: This is the prettiest cabbage in the bunch! They’re shaped like green cabbages, but the leaves are deep green and deeply crinkled. Their flavor is mild and earhty, and the leaves are tender even when raw. Heads should be compact and tight, but will have a little more give to them because of the wrinkled leaves.
Usually harvested as and when required, but both Red and winter white cabbage can be cut in early November and stored for use over winter, in boxes lined with straw, placed in a cool dry area, once the roots and outer leaves have been removed.
Grow cabbage rapidly with frequent light applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer and regular watering. Cabbage responds favorably to the cool, moist soil conditions produced by a mulch of hay or straw.
The most serious pest of the cabbage is the green cabbage worm, the larva of a small, white butterfly often found hovering over cabbage patches in late spring. Cabbage worm feeds on the tender young leaves, producing ragged holes, and often burrows into the heads. Good control can be achieved by using one of the dusts or sprays for chewing insects; Bacillus thuringiensis and rotenone are effective.
You can control cabbage root maggot,-a small, yellowish white maggot that tunnels into the roots and causes plants to wilt, by spraying the ground around young seedlings with diazinon.