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The Seed Program
Growing Hints

This is one of the many growing hints that are available as a bonus with a registered copy of The Seed Program.


Cabbage is no longer quite as popular a garden crop as it was years ago, but it is a productive and relatively easy crop to grow, and anyone who appreciates cole slaw or sauerkraut will definitely want to grow a few plants each year.

Cabbage plants need cool weather, and can be successfully grown in either the spring or the fall. True cabbage lovers will want to grow some at both ends of the season. In areas with hot, dry summers, it's best to stick to a fall crop because the plants won't reach a harvestable size before the heat sets in.

Cabbage is a very heavy feeder, so it's best to start by spreading plenty of composted manure in the cabbage bed. Cabbage plants can be started from seed either indoors in late winter or right out in the garden. The young plants grow quickly, but need to be kept weeded while they are getting established. Cabbage has shallow roots, so cultivation should be very shallow. A thick mulch is a better alternative to hoeing for eliminating weeds, and will keep the soil cool and moist. Starting cabbage plants off indoors has the advantage of eliminating the need to weed the small plants, and allows the vulnerable seedlings to be grown in a pest free environment.

Cabbage can fall prey to a number of insect pests. The cabbage worms (cabbage looper and imported cabbage worms) are the most common. These green caterpillars are the larval stage of the small white butterflies that appear in spring. Dusting or spraying the plants with BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) is a safe, organic method for killing this pest. Covering the crop with a floating row cover will also prevent the adult butterflies from laying their eggs on your cabbages. Row covers will also exclude the fly that lays eggs near the base of the plant that hatch into cabbage root maggots. Pull and examine the roots of stunted plants to see if the small white maggots are visible among the roots. Wood ashes, mixed into the soil surface near the plant, is another commonly suggested remedy for repelling cabbage root maggots.

Cabbage can fall prey to a number of diseases as well, but if the cabbage crop is effectively rotated to a different area of the garden each season, these will usually not present a problem. Remember that cabbage should not be grown where any related plants have grown during the past few seasons. These relatives include broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts.

Entire plants may be harvested when he heads reach sufficient size, or the plants may be left in place and the head cut off at ground level with a sharp knife. The plant, if it is still healthy and vigorously growing, will usually go on to produce four smaller heads in the place that had been occupied by the single large head.

For more crops, more complete gardening information, a garden journal and a planting schedule you can customize for your region, purchase The Seed Program!

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