Cabbage is a green leafy vegetable grown throughout the world. Growing cabbage can be a challenge, and some varieties tend to need a lot of care and attention. Cabbage needs a cold environment for growth and is susceptible to pest attacks. Consider pest control strategies that compliment cabbage like composting or use of plant covers. If you like the vegetable, with the careful attention, you can grow it in your home garden.
Proper planning and care can provide up to two crops in a year.
Finding cabbage seedlings may be difficult in your area, but you can germinate cabbage indoors at >70 degrees. It is best if you sow the seeds in containers and transplant before the last frost. Alternatively, you can sow seeds directly a few weeks before the last frost – if planting in the fall plant 8 weeks ahead of the first Winter frost.
Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart in straight rows. If you want the full-size plant heads, plant them at least 20 inches apart. If you plant closer, the heads will grow smaller in size.
Mulching is essential to retain the moisture and regulate the soil temperature. Make rich mulch from leaves and wood pulp and mix it with the soil to put around the plants.
Make sure do not plant the broccoli and cauliflower near the cabbage as they all belong to the same family. Planting them together can deplete the soil form the nutrients and attract the same diseases and pests.
When the plants attain a height of 5 inches, make sure that they are at the required distance. After the transplantation is over, you can fertilize the soil for three weeks. Also, make sure you mulch and water the soil regularly to keep it moist.
There are many pests like cabbage maggots, cabbage worms, and cutworms that attack the cabbage plants. The pests like slugs chew ragged holes in the cabbage leaves. Growing in the right conditions, crop rotation and the using the disease resistant cultivars protects your cabbage plants from pests and diseases.
Using a barrier like a plant cover or copper edging can keep posts like slugs and snails at bay.
You can also grow the Dill weed plants between the cabbage plants, which attract the wasps that kill the pests like cabbage worms and maggots.
Check whether the cabbage heads are fully grown and became firm. Most varieties of cabbage take around 70 days to develop the firm heads. If the heads have become hard, you can cut them using a sharp knife leaving the stalks and roots.
To get two crops from your cabbage plants, leave the outer leaves and roots after cutting the cabbage head. The stalks and roots will produce new heads which you should not harvest until they grow to the size of a tennis ball. When grown to the required size cut them to use as a vegetable or salad.
Cabbage grows well in cold weather. You need to time its planting correctly, traditionally in the early Spring or late Fall. Growing cabbage can be fun and easy, but you need to protect your crop from a range of pests.