A fairly popular, easy-to-grow vegetable in most gardens, cabbage is nondemanding and very hardy to frosts. Cabbage is a cool-season vegetable suited to both spring and fall planting. It belongs to the cole crop family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. The trick to growing cabbage is steady, uninterrupted growth. That means rich soil, plenty of water, and good fertilization. Cabbage contains loads of vitamin A and C and is delicious either raw or cooked!
Cabbage comes in a range of sizes, shapes (round or flat heads), colors (red or various shades of green), and leaf textures (smooth or crinkled) as well as early- to late-season varieties. Savoy cabbage has pretty crinkled leaves and is among the most frost-tolerant cabbage varieties, making it a great choice for fall gardens!
Add nitrogen-rich amendments such as blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure to the soil or work a timed-release vegetable food such as 14-14-14 into the soil before planting.
You can buy transplants from Green Thumb nursery, but cabbage is easy to grow from seed. Sow seeds indoors, ¼ inch deep and 2 inches apart, around mid-January or February. Place in a sunny spot and keep the soil evenly moist. When daytime temperatures reach 50°F and seedlings have three leaves, plant them outdoors. Set plants so that 1-2” of the main stem is buried. Space 1-2 feet apart.
Holes in a cabbage’s leaves are a sure sign that cabbageworms or cabbage loopers may be attacking your plant. Look for these green pests on the underside of leaves and pick them off. Good growing conditions, crop rotation, and the use of disease-resistant varieties are the best defense against cabbage-family crop problems. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering, because constantly wet leaves are prone to disease. Cut back on water as cabbage matures.
Squeeze the cabbage head to test whether it’s ready to harvest or not. If the head feels solid and firm, it’s ready to be cut from the base of the plant. If it feels loose, leave in the garden to harden up a little longer. Heads can be kept for several weeks in the fridge. Clean carefully, because heads may harbor hidden insects!
Health Benefits of Cabbage
‘January King’, ‘Filderkraut’, ‘Charleston Wakefield’, ‘Melissa’ and ‘Drumhead’ (both savoys)
Lyons English Grill Cabbage Soup
Cook time: 30-40 minutes Yield: Serves 4
Sauté ground beef in large pot over medium-high heat until browned. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add broth, tomato juice, tomato soup, garlic powder, sugar, cabbage, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until cabbage is very tender-about 20-30 minutes.
Each serving: 121 calories, 716 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 0.83 grams fiber