Cabbage becomes many people’s favorite veggies since it’s packed with nutrients, grows fast, and offers vibrant color. That’s why people want to know how to grow cabbage in their own garden so they can harvest it anytime they want.
If you like to make salads, cook stir-fries, or fermented is as kimchi, it worth to grown your own cabbage. Thus, you can check the following guide on step by step of growing cabbage.
1. From Seedlings
Cabbage is best grown when it is taken from the seedlings. It will be better if you start to plant at the beginning of the spring so you can expect to harvest it in the summer before the days turn hotter. You can move the cabbage sprouts from the seedlings to the garden when they already 3 or 4 inches tall.
Make sure the sprouts receive enough sunlight before you transplant them into the garden. Create space around 12 to 18 inches from one plant to another so they can grow optimally.
If you plant winter cabbage, seedlings need to be done around 12 to 14 weeks before the first winter starts. Meanwhile, you should transplant the sprouts when they already 4 to 6 weeks. Fall is known to be the best time of growing cabbage.
It is because cabbage can tolerate cold and its flavor will enhance after exposed to light frosts. Cabbage needs to grow in well-drained soil with organic matter and get full sun.
2. From Seed
Cabbage also can be planted by sowing the seeds directly to the soil when the spring starts. Seeds can be sowed recurrently along the season so you can harvest them anytime you want although later the cabbage needs extra care and protection so that it can withstand the heat of summer.
Then, seedlings can be performed when the cabbage sprouts already reach 5 inches.
How to Grow Cabbage Easily
1. Manure and Nitrogen Booster
Cabbage requires more nutrients compared with other vegetable plants. Hence, if you want to grow it at home you need to prepare the soil before sowing the seeds or transplanting the sprouts into the soils. You can mix soil with either compost or aged manure previously.
Adding nitrogen booster to the soil is good particularly to help cabbage forming its head. You can use compost and organic fertilizer alternately once in a few weeks. Besides, make sure that the soil pH remains ideal which is between 6.5 and 6.8.
2. Prevent Splitting
Splitting often happens when the cabbage starts forming heads. There various reasons that can cause splitting such as roots absorbing too much water, excessive fertilization at the late of growing season, or the tissues on leaves expand too fast.
Splitting can be avoided by watering cabbage in an appropriate amount of water. Besides, you need to make sure that the soil remains moist, particularly when to harvest cabbage time comes ahead. Keeping the soil moisture even can be done by applying thick mulch on the base of each cabbage.
Thick mulching not only helps to maintain soil moisture but also avoids nutrients leaks from the plants as well as makes them remain cool in the hot summer.
As splitting happens when the roots absorbing too much water, you can reduce the amount of liquid absorbed with a technique called root pruning. This technique includes twisting the plants carefully and remove a few of their roots before heavy rainfall comes.
Besides, you need to stop feeding the cabbage when you discover the head starts to emerge.
Cabbage Growing Tips
1. Extension Tools
You can use extension tools to support the cabbage growth. For instance, you can add row covers to have an early planting start during spring and keep the cabbage growing well even in the fall. Rotating the surrounding crops is important to keep soil remains fertile and lower the disease risk.
2. Aromatic Herbs
Cabbage can grow well if it is planted close to aromatic herbs due to its ability to keep the pests away as well as promoting good head forming. Thus, you can plant several herbs like sage or rosemary to repel moths from the growing cabbage.
Avoid planting cabbage close to brassicas and strawberries because they easily attract pests and diseases as well as disrupt cabbage family plants to grow.
Managing Cabbage Pests
There are various pests and diseases that disrupt cabbage growth. It is important not only to equip yourself with proper ways on how to grow cabbage but also how to manage them from potential pests and diseases.
Here, several common pests that likely infect the cabbage:
1. Cabbage Loopers
Cabbage loopers are tiny pests that often attack cabbage in the growing season and eat the cabbage leaves, making the plant weak and soon damaged. The caterpillars of cabbage loopers have green color so they are difficult to spot.
As they grow bigger, the more damage they cause in the growing cabbage. A larva can munch thrice a day making its body grows quickly. The adults appear to be greyish and leave tiny green eggs that within a couple of days hatch into caustic larvae.
Besides handpicking the loopers everywhere you spot them, you can plant aromatic herbs near the cabbage in order to invite the predators of insects. Protecting the cabbage with row cover helps to prevent the months in laying their eggs into the cabbage.
Alternatively, you can make a DIY spray containing garlic, cayenne pepper as well as organic soap. Spray it underneath the leaves where cocoons usually stay.
2. Flea Beetles
Whether you plant cabbage in the garden or in pots, flea beetles like to come, munch the leaves and leave the small holes on them. They hide in the soil during winter and wander around during spring, especially when the leaves start to emerge. They commonly leave their white eggs at the base of the cabbage.
In summer, they eat a lot so they sometimes damage the whole cabbage. Besides, they transmit diseases so whenever you spot one in your garden, you have to soon put it under control.
Adding row covers above the seedlings avoid them come nearer. You can use spray neem oil on the cabbage planting area to kill the early stage of flea beetles.
3. Root Maggots
Root maggots eat the cabbage roots underground that leads the plant to die quickly. Whenever cabbage is attacked by this pest, the leaves turn saggy, yellowish, and soon damage.
Row covers can protect the seedlings well and adding the cardboard rings surround the base can avoid flies to lay their eggs there. Put sticky traps around the garden so that the cabbage flies get ensnared. Crop rotation also helps prevent the spread of root maggot infestation.
How to Grow Cabbage: Harvesting
1. First Harvesting
Cabbage can be harvested variedly between 2 to 5 months since its seeds being sowed. Choose the cabbage that already has large and firm heads. Leave the wide and most outer leaves. Then, cut its head out of the center using a sharp knife.
After being harvested, cabbage needs to be moved into shady areas quickly or bring inside the home to prevent it from wilting.
2. Second Harvesting
It is often possible to harvest the cabbage for the second time depends on the varieties you grow. When the outer leaves were left and the roots were still complete in the previous harvest, the cabbage commonly will form new heads.
Take some of them and leave the smaller size to harvest when its size is similar to tennis balls.
3. Post Harvesting
Besides knowing how to grow cabbage, you need to know how to take care of the plants after being harvested. You have to remove the whole plant so there are no remaining parts of the cabbage left. The leftovers commonly attract diseases to come and affect other plants in your garden.
For the cabbage parts that still in good condition, you can compost them. However, cabbage parts that are infected by disease need to be destroyed.
When you put the cabbage in the storage, do not remove the leaves and heads because they help to protect the inner layers. The temperature of the storage needs to be maintained in a range of 32 to 40 degrees F.
Put the cabbage into plastic bags when storing it in the fridge to hold the moisture. In the fridge, cabbage can survive variedly within 3 weeks to 2 months.
2. Root cellar
If you store the cabbage in the root cellar, arrange them in a row by providing space between each cabbage. It can be either hung with string from the ceiling of a room or stored separately on the floor by previously wrapped with newspaper.
By using that storing technique, cabbage can last for around 4 months. If you harvest the whole parts of cabbage, the roots even can be stored inside during the winter. Later, the roots can be planted in the spring right after defrost.
You can practice how to grow cabbage successfully if you equip yourself with the proper steps from the propagation to preserving cabbage as well as managing the pests that often attack the cabbage growth.