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Cabbage

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Botanical name: Brassica oleracea var. capitata

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral


Cabbage is a hardy, leafy vegetable full of vitamins. It can be difficult to grow; it only likes cool temperatures, and it can be a magnet for some type of pests. By planning your growing season and providing diligent care, you may have two successful crops in one year, both spring and fall. Many varieties are available to suit both your growing conditions and taste preferences.

Planting

  • Start cabbage seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. See frost dates for your area here.
  • Harden off plants over the course of a week. To prepare soil, till in aged manure or compost.
  • Transplant outdoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last expected frost date. Choose a cloudy afternoon.
  • Plant 12 to 24 inches apart in rows, depending on size of head desired. The closer you plant, the smaller the heads.
  • Mulch thickly to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Practice crop rotation with cabbage year to year to avoid a buildup of soil borne diseases.
  • Although cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are closely related, and require similar nutrients, it's best not to plant them together. They are all heavy feeders, depleting the soil faster of required nutrients; plus, they will attract the same pests and diseases. For cabbage, also avoid proximity to strawberries and tomatoes.
  • Cabbage can be grown near beans and cucumbers.
  • Check out our chart of plant companions for an expanded list of friends and foes.

Care

  • When transplants reach 5 inches tall, thin to make sure they are still the desired length apart. (The plants you remove can be transplanted elsewhere in your garden.)
  • Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting.
  • Keep soil moist with mulch and water 2 inches per week.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • Harvest when heads reach desired size and are firm. This will take around 70 days for most green cabbage varieties. Most early varieties will produce 1- to 3-pound heads.
  • Cut each cabbage head at its base with a sharp knife. After harvesting, bring inside or put in shade immediately.
  • To get two crops from early cabbage plants, cut the cabbage head out of the plant, leaving the outer leaves and root in the garden. The plant will send up new heads—pinch them off until only four or so smaller heads remain. When these grow to tennis-ball size, they’ll be perfect for salad.
  • After harvesting, remove the entire stem and root system from the soil to prevent disease buildup. Only compost healthy plants; destroy those with maggot infestation.
  • Cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two weeks, wrapped lightly in plastic. Make sure it is dry before storing. In proper root cellar conditions, cabbage will keep for up to 3 months. See our article on root cellars.

Recommended Varieties

  • If you are planting for a fall harvest, try red or Chinese cabbage. Good varieties include ‘Ruby Perfection’ and ‘Lei-Choy’.
  • For quick harvest time, try ‘Golden Acre’, ‘Primo’, or ‘Stonehead’.
  • ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ resists splitting.
  • Disease-resistant varieties include ‘Blue Vantage’ and ‘Cheers’.

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Mark Twain once said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” In fact, cabbage is no longer seen so poorly. We now know that this hardy vegetable is antioxidant- and nutrient-rich, and a great addition to any garden!

Comments

Which month is the best for

By Denis

Which month is the best for planting of cabbage?
What can make cabbage yield well?

Dates for planting cabbage

By Almanac Staff

Dates for planting cabbage are based on where you live. See our customized planting chart here: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates
There are many factors which lead to good cabbage yield: The soil is ideally a well-drained sandy loam with high organic matter content. The variety you choose is important. Treating your seed for black rot helps. Consider double rows per bed. Add boron to the fertilizer. Supply 80 lb of N per acre preplant. Sidedress. Wait for plants to dry before cultivating. Spray for insect control; insects are an issue with cabbage. Pack carefully and avoid bruises. Keep cabbage in shade after harvest.

some advice about cabbage

By kizza katumba

some advice about cabbage growing

I am writing this in last

By June Cunningham

I am writing this in last week of august, to have fall crop of cabbage when should I plant? Also would it be better to plant seed or plants?

Hi, June: This really depends

By Almanac Staff

Hi, June: This really depends on where you are. Use the Frost Dates calculator above under Gardening to determine when your average first frost is, then make sure you get your transplants, not seeds, into the ground at least 3 weeks before. Thanks for asking!

what is the main fertilizer

By tamillarsan

what is the main fertilizer for a
pumpkin and cabbage

I planted my cabbage about

By Katie Shelton

I planted my cabbage about 3-4 feet from my row of broccoli and cauliflower... Will this cause a problem? All my plants seem to be growing great so far ;)

It should be fine as long as

By Almanac Staff

It should be fine as long as they have plenty of soil nutrients, good care, and you monitor for pests and diseases. Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are in the same plant family, so they will use similar nutrients, depleting the soil faster of those nutrients (they are heavy feeders). Also, they will attract the same pests and diseases, so keep an eye out. We've revised the text in the article so that it is clearer. Thanks!

My daughters plant is huge

By jill langley

My daughters plant is huge but still no head what are we doing wrong...

The optimum temperature for

By Almanac Staff

The optimum temperature for cabbage growth is 60˚ to 65˚F. Often, the problem is temperature--too high or too low. Cabbage also needs even moisture supply during head formation. If your plant hasn't bolted yet, it may eventually form heads. If they do start to flower and bolt, pull them up and try in the fall when the weather is cooler (for most areas).

My father in law years ago

By Gigi P.

My father in law years ago made beautiful cabbage plants. They were huge, but sadly he pasted away long ago. I can't remember what he did to make the heads form really well. He once told me that he used a salt. I don't remember what kind of salt. Table, sea, Epsom ???? Does anyone out there know possibly what I am getting at.? He would pour it on the center leaves once they were large enough to start turning inward to form the heads. The heads would get tight and firm and huge. help? I would love to know and many people have asked me what it was but I don't remember. Thanks for any help.

growing up here in Kentucky

By Raymond Allen

growing up here in Kentucky we had a vent pipe going up through the root cellar roof another small pipe down close to the floor with a damper on it in the winter you can open and adjust the damper to draw cold air in and keep the temperature low evenly between 35 and 45 degrees in the summer you shut the damper so you don't draw in
hot air don't forget you don't have much going in the root cellar until fall.

I am from south india

By Shanks

I am from south india (Kerala) where its humid and hot. Cabbage plants are growing with big leaves (45 days old)and still not getting a firm head. Should i tie the leaves to get a firm head.
Plants are evenly watered every day and soil beneath is firm

High temperatures during head

By Almanac Staff

High temperatures during head formation can lead to loose heads that are not firm. The optimum temperature for cabbage growth is 60˚ to 65˚F. Excess soil nitrogen can also lead to loose heads. Be sure the cabbage gets consistent watering and the soil around it is firm, not loose (use your hands to firm up). We do not usually tie up cabbage; we'll tie cauliflower leaves over the developing curd to protect it from direct sunlight.

how do you know when to plant

By jade chapman

how do you know when to plant red cabbage

Growing red cabbage is no

By Almanac Staff

Growing red cabbage is no different than growing green cabbage. It really depends on the variety that you buy because there are some types that mature earlier and some that mature later. In general, transplant early cabbage soon enough that it matures before the heat of summer. Many varieties take 70 to 75 days to mature. Late cabbage is seeded mid-summer, but it develops its main head during the cooling weather of fall.

Hi I an in KwaZulu Natal (

By mpume

Hi
I an in KwaZulu Natal ( South Africa) in the north coast. Is sprinf the right time to plant cabbage. Or what vegetable is to be planted this season.

Cabbages are getting quite

By GBJr

Cabbages are getting quite large but are not forming heads and it looks like something is eating the little leaves inside. Do you ever "tie up" up the outer leaves to help form heads?

Usually cabbage doesn't form

By Almanac Staff

Usually cabbage doesn't form a head because it's too hot. Cabbage likes cool temperature. There are a variety of cabbage pests. You'd need to describe them--brightly-colored, green, worms, etc. You could tie up the cabbage head though it's not going to form a head if it's not cool.

I live in South Dakota and

By New Gardener

I live in South Dakota and it's quite hot and humid here. I planted cabbages, broccoli, and brussel sprouts this year and so far all I have is a garden full of huge leaves and no heads. Should I just pull them out and throw them all away and try and replant when it gets cooler in September?

This BTK insecticide. What is

By Tammy mead

This BTK insecticide. What is the name on the bottle or what is the name of the insecticide that has this chemical in it

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

By Almanac Staff

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) exists as bacteria in soil in the natural environment and is a toxin for some pests. Foray® 48B, EPA Registration No. 73049-427, is certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) as an organic product. The product contains 12.65% Btk as the active ingredient.

Once I buy cabbage plants

By Gerry Monaghan

Once I buy cabbage plants how long do I have to plant them i have them a week now are they still ok to plant

My cabbage is growing yellow

By Mimi0423

My cabbage is growing yellow flowers but no head but its 3 feet tall!!! What do I do?

The optimum temperature for

By Almanac Staff

The optimum temperature for cabbage growth is 60˚ to 65˚F. Often, the problem is temperature--too high or too low. Cabbage also needs even moisture supply during head formation. If your plant hasn't bolted yet, it may eventually form heads. If they do start to flower and bolt, pull them up and try in the fall when the weather is cooler (for most areas).

Cabbage not making heads

By Anonymous

My cabbage usually makes lots of big, pretty green leaves, but not really heads. What am I doing wrong?

High temperatures during head

By Almanac Staff

High temperatures during head formation can lead to loose heads that are not firm. The optimum temperature for cabbage growth is 60˚ to 65˚F. Excess soil nitrogen can also lead to loose heads. Be sure the cabbage gets consistent watering and the soil around it is firm, not loose (use your hands to firm up).

Can the cabbage leaves still

By Reggie Greenleaf

Can the cabbage leaves still be eaten if it never forms a head?

Yes, you can eat the leaves.

By Almanac Staff

Yes, you can eat the leaves. They may not be as palatable.

newbee

By Anonymous

What makes a (3in)cabbage plant leaves curl and tips of them turn yellow?
Its dieing,i have to save my little girls plant.

Based on these symptoms, your

By Almanac Staff

Based on these symptoms, your cabbage might have an insect called aphids. Remove with a blast of water. Use insecticidal soap solution. Mulch with aluminum foil to disorient aphids. We hope this helps.

Cabbage Pests

By Anonymous

Did not see cabbage worms mentioned as pests but they are the only thing that keeps my harvest from being perfect. Those pretty little butterflies that dance around the cabbage plants are really laying eggs which then hatch into little green worms that chew the cabbage and deposit worm poop. Short of manually removing all of the eggs, any other suggestions (no dangerous pesticides, please) for deterring these guys?

When cabbages start to form

By Anne M Quinn-Ross

When cabbages start to form their heads and the white moths are flying around them, the easiest way to prevent them from laying eggs is to take a rinsed out empty 1 gallon milk jug, put several squirts of liquid dish soap, and canola oil then fill the rest with water. Dump this over the cabbages. You will need to do this once a week. It really works! I have been doing this for over 30 years.

cabbageworm control

By Almanac Staff

In addition to handpicking caterpillars:

Cover your plants with row covers to deter the adult butterflies from laying eggs on the cabbages.

Yellow sticky traps will catch the adult butterflies, but may also catch beneficial insects.

Spraying with BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) every 1 to 2 weeks will also help control the pests.

It is said that if you dampen cabbage leaves and sprinkle them with cornmeal, the caterpillars will eat the meal, swell, and die.

Trichogramma wasps (very tiny; they do not sting humans) parasitize the eggs of the imported cabbageworm; these beneficial insects are available by mailorder, although you'll need to time their release appropriately--the mailorder company would be able to help you.

Good luck!

I grow cabbage with gasoline

By Anonymous

I grow cabbage with gasoline base fertilizer and two inches of water per week. All natural way of green ozone. Once establish switch to diesel. Matures in 55days

Hallo, my cabbages have

By Anonymous

Hallo, my cabbages have started turning purple while they are still in nursery. What do i do? Again is it good to sprinkle alot of water?

Not sure how big your cabbage

By Almanac Staff

Not sure how big your cabbage plants are. It's better to water the soil deeply when the plants are starting to develop the heads. Cabbages have long deep roots. It's OK to sprinkle water if the plants are still tiny.

when to plant

By Anonymous

Hey I have a question, can you plant this in heat?? cause it's the beggining of summer/end of winter and I was wondering if I could plant the seeds now,

This is a North American

By Almanac Staff

This is a North American almanac! However, we can tell you that cabbage enjoys cool weather--spring, not summer. It's best planted at soil temperatures between 5°C and 18°C.

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