Cabbages are a nutritious and healthy food to eat, and the large leaves look great in the veggie plot. From salad to stir-fry, there are so many uses for this versatile veg.
There are lots of cabbage varieties available to grow, and the good thing is that you can grow them all year round. Typically, cabbages can be thought of as spring, summer, autumn or winter varieties.
Cabbages like fertile, free-draining soil that is not too acidic. A pH of 6-7 is ideal.
Cabbages need plenty of nutrients. Prepare the soil in advance by adding some well-rotted manure or garden compost.
A firm bed is better than a loose one, so after digging in your organic matter, leave the soil to settle for a few weeks.
When planted into position, cabbages should be spaced approximately 18 inches apart to allow them enough room to grow.
How to Grow Spring Cabbages
Loose leafed spring cabbages, or spring greens, can be sown in July. Sow seeds into a seed bed, or you can use trays or modules. Once the cabbages have grown to approximately 6 inches, they can be planted.Firm the seedlings in well, taking care not to damage the stems.
Spring cabbages are ready to harvest when the heart feels firm, in mid-spring. They should be eaten soon after harvest, as they do not store well.
Spring cabbage does freeze well. Blanch for a minute first.
How to Grow Summer / Autumn cabbages
The shape of summer cabbages are rounded and ball-like. Sow undercover in February in trays or modules, and plant out in April.
Harvest once the heart feels firm, in summer and autumn.
Summer cabbages store well in a ventilated, frost-free place.
How to Grow Savoy Cabbage / Winter Cabbage
Winter cabbages are very hardy. There are smooth leaf varieties and crinkly, Savoy cabbage varieties that are harvested in winter.
Sow in April, either in a seed bed, trays or modules. Plant into the soil once they have developed 2 mature leaves. Firm them in well.
They are ready for harvesting when the heart feels firm.
Caring for Cabbage Plants
A fine mesh net over the plants in summer will help prevent the Cabbage White butterfly from laying lots of eggs on the plants, and having the caterpillars eating your crops.
Keep the area free from weeds.
Cabbage plants do tend to be vulnerable to wind damage. Wind can cause the plants to rock and this can damage the roots. Try to plant in a sheltered position.
Cabbage root fly can also be a problem. To prevent them eating the roots, make a mat to put around the stem of the plant to cover and protect the roots.
With a bit of planning, you can enjoy harvesting cabbages for most of the year. They are a great vegetable to fill the ‘hungry gap’, when there is little else growing.
Why not try a few different varieties to see what grows well in your soil? A bowlful of steaming greens, or a delicious crunch of coleslaw will make the humble cabbage a priority in your veggie plot, and keep you in nutritious produce all year through.