Belonging to the Brassica genus, cabbage shares the spotlight with kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Like its cousins, it comes packed with folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C, which is why it is a welcome addition to any home vegetable garden.
To grow your own cabbage, the first step is knowing when to plant it.
When to plant cabbages? To start the seeds, plant cabbage seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last scheduled frost in your region. Plant them outdoors in early spring for a summer harvest or in mid-to late-summer to have a steady supply during the cold months.
Planting Cabbage in Different Climates
From a culinary standpoint, you will find many uses for cabbages.
You can eat them raw, boiled, steamed, or even fermented to add a delicious and nutritious twist to your diet.
For this reason, many home gardeners like to grow them in their vegetable gardens.
How do you know your region’s climate is suitable for growing cabbages?
The trick to growing cabbages, depending on where you live, is knowing when to plant them.
This cole crop like the cool weather, so you’ll find no problems growing them in USDA Hardiness Zones 1 through 9.
However, they grow best in regions with temperatures ranging from 45 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choosing Cabbage Seeds
This crop comes in different cabbage varieties with varying maturities.
Some mature in just 60 days, while others take a lot longer and mature in 120 days.
If you want a steady supply for longer, grow cabbages of different varieties.
The most common for home vegetable gardens are smooth-leafed, Chinese or napa, and savoy cabbages.
This variety produces compact cabbages perfect for making sauerkraut and cole-slaw.
The Red Express cultivar matures in 63 days, the small round Gonzales in 66 days, and the Early Jersey Wakefield in 70 days.
Chinese or Napa Cabbage
For stir fries and salads, grow the mildly flavored and extra tender napa cabbage.
The small hybrid Little Jade will mature in just 60 days, while the Wong Bok will be ready for harvest in 75 days.
Do you like stuffing or using cabbages as wraps?
The crinkled and easy-to-separate leaves of Savoy cabbages are perfect for these recipes.
Compared to other cabbage varieties, these take longer to mature.
The January King cultivar, for example, loves the cold weather and will mature in 160 to 200 days.
Grow Alcosa cabbages for a touch of color to your dishes. These purple cabbages mature in just 72 days.
How To Plant Cabbage
Have you decided which cabbage varieties to grow?
If so, go ahead and visit your local garden center to buy the seeds.
You can also choose to buy transplant seedlings, especially if you don’t have enough time to start the seeds yourself.
Here are the steps to growing cabbages from seeds:
Step 1: Sow cabbage seeds indoors.
Find out the scheduled last frost forecast in your region so that you can start cabbage seeds well beforehand.
As mentioned, you will need to give them six to eight weeks to sprout from seeds to seedlings.
In a seed starter, sow the seeds two inches apart and around 1/4-inch deep.
Use grow lights or place them in a spot that receives plenty of sun.
Ideally, you will have to make sure they stay in an area where the temperatures don’t go lower or higher than 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Prepare your garden for transplanting.
In a few weeks, the cabbage seeds will have grown into young plants that you can transplant outdoors.
Before doing so, make sure you prepare your vegetable garden first.
This includes checking if the soil is rich in nutrients and moisture.
To do this, till the ground to about two inches deep and then add in compost to the mix.
You will then want to top the surface with manure or fertilizer before watering it thoroughly.
Step 3: Gradually harden the seedlings outdoors.
About a week before you transplant the young plants outdoors, place the seed starter in a shaded area outdoors.
Do this a couple of hours each day so that the seedlings grow strong enough to survive the move.
As you do this, look for weak seedlings and thin them out. The goal is to have just one strong plant for every pot or cell.
Step 4: Transplant the young plants in rows.
Once you notice three to four leaves in each seedling, you can go ahead and transplant them in your garden.
Give each cabbage about 12 to 24 inches of growing space, making sure you plant in rows.
Bury the main stem around an inch or two deep into the soil.
You can plant the young plants closer together if you like smaller cabbage heads.
Step 5: Plant alongside complementary crops.
To improve the health of your cabbages, plant them with celery, onions, lettuce, beans, potatoes, or cucumbers.
How To Water Cabbage
As with any crop, over or underwatering cabbages will produce less-than-ideal results.
Hence, here are watering tips to make sure you keep them well-hydrated:
Tip 1: Keep the soil moist.
Cabbages get very thirsty, so they will need regular watering.
Give them at least 1.5 inches of water each week, making sure they don’t sit in wet soil.
Water more frequently and deeply if you notice the ground is dry to around three inches deep.
Tip 2: Don’t wet the leaves.
Especially in cool weather, don’t wet your cabbage’s foliage.
Having wet leaves will make them more vulnerable to a whole host of diseases.
You can prevent this from happening by watering them near the base.
Tip 3: Mulch every week.
You can keep the soil moist by adding mulch after every watering.
Tip 4: Fertilize regularly.
About three weeks after planting, give your young plants a suitable fertilizer for optimum growth.
Do this again when they start forming cabbage heads.
You will know your cabbages need another dose of fertilizer if you notice the leaves starting to turn yellow.
How To Grow Cabbage
To ensure you give your cabbage plants the best growing conditions, here are more tips from the experts:
Tip 1: Protect the young plants from pests using collars and row covers.
Unfortunately, cabbage worms are a thing and will devour your young plants in no time at all.
You can protect your cabbages by using collars and row covers.
Tip 2: Always check the soil’s pH level.
This cole crop enjoys soil with pH levels between 6.0 and 6.5, so test your soil pH regularly to ensure it is at the correct level.
Use wood ash or hydrated lime to increase your soil’s pH level or aluminum sulfate, elemental sulfur, or organic mulch to lower it.
Tip 3: Watch out for diseases or pests.
Small pests can be hard to see, and you will sometimes only notice them when it’s too late.
For this reason, find the time to check your cabbages every week to address pests early on.
You will also want to remove weeds around your cabbages gently and by hand, as this crop has a shallow root system.
How Long Do Cabbage Take To Grow?
As mentioned, different cabbage varieties will grow and be ready to harvest at varying rates.
Generally speaking, though, they should be ready in about 70 days after you transplant them outdoors.
Leaving them longer in the ground will result in larger cabbage heads.
However, keep in mind that the younger, smaller ones are tastier and sweeter.
To harvest cabbages, use a sharp knife to cut off the head as close to the base as you can.
Once you cut the head, you will want to remove the entire root system from the ground to keep your soil healthy.
More often than not, you will have more than enough cabbages you can consume.
You can always give them away to friends and family or sell them to neighbors for some extra cash.
Alternatively, you can store them in a root cellar so that you’ll have cabbages for months.
Stored in a moist environment with temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, they will last from five to six long months.
When you are ready to use them, make sure you wash your cabbage heads thoroughly under running water.
As you already know, its leaves often hide organic matter or insects in between.
You can cut the head in sections and wrap each one tightly with a plastic wrap if you won’t be using it all.
Then, store in the fridge immediately and consume within a few days.
For a nutrient-rich addition to your diet, don’t miss the chance to grow cabbages in your vegetable garden.
Even if you are a beginner, you can grow this nutrient-rich and versatile cole crop successfully if you follow the tips and tricks we provided earlier.
The key is knowing when to plant, how to do it, and how you can give them the best growing conditions they will thrive in.