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Cabbages are easy and rewarding to grow and are part of the large Brassicaceae family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and kale. With regular planting and varietal choice, it is possible to have cabbage in the garden almost year round.

Cabbage is far more than a boiled vegetable! Steam, stir-fry, add to soups, shred raw for delicious coleslaw, or try your hand at cabbage rolls. Cabbages can also be preserved as pickled cabbage or fermented as sauerkraut.

Cabbage is a low-calorie food providing an excellent source of many nutrients, especially vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and manganese.

Follow our seven easy steps to successful cabbage harvest including tips along the way.

How to grow vegetables - cabbages Handy Hints
soil TLC tips in summer

When to plant and location.

When to plant.

In most regions, cabbages grow year round.

  1. In cool to temperate gardens sow cabbages from late winter to autumn or in late autumn to winter in warmer climates (tropical to subtropical).
  2. Cabbages take from eight to sixteen weeks to mature depending on the variety.

Location.

  • They grow best in full sun (or with light afternoon shade in hotter climates) in soil that holds moisture well.
  • The key to growing a good cabbage is to keep it growing quickly with good watering and an application of a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables.

Soil

Step 1 – Sowing seeds.

  • To grow from seed sown directly in well-prepared, moist soil at a depth of 6mm.
  • Spacing is 40-50cm (mini varieties) to 60-70cm (large varieties).
  • Seed can also be sown in individual seedling cell punnets filled with Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix and transplant in around six weeks.
  • Water in well with Seasol as it helps increase seed germination rates. Mix 30mL of Seasol concentrate per 9 litres of water.

Step 2 – First growth.

  • Expect germination in 6-10 days. Germination may be slower in cold conditions.
  • The first sign of growth is the formation of a root followed by a green shoot.
  • When cabbages sprout they only have two leaves known as the seedling leaves. They look like two small, fat hearts on either side of the stem.
  • Water gently and apply Seasol weekly to promote strong root development and healthy growth.
How to grow vegetables - cabbages

Step 3 – Baby cabbage seedlings.

  • As true leaves form, gently thin seedlings in the vegie bed or seedling cells. In soil, thin to 40-70cm apart.
  • Seedlings can be gently removed or simply use scissors to snip off unwanted seedlings at the base to avoid disturbing roots of plants you intend to keep.
  • Cabbage seedlings are hungry little creatures so give them a good feed with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables every 1 to 2 weeks.

Step 4 – Cabbage seedings ready for transplant.

  • Transplant home grown seedlings when they form four to six leaves and are large enough to handle. Plant seedlings you have purchased as soon as possible after bringing them home.
  • Space seedlings 40-70cm apart (depending on variety).
  • Firm into the soil and water with Seasol to reduce transplant shock.
  • Protect from pests.

Step 5 – Cabbage plant growth.

  • Keep developing plants free from weed competition and well-watered.
  • Apply a layer of mulch such as sugar cane mulch or pea straw to keep the soil warm and retain moisture within the soil. This also helps to reduce weed growth.
  • Apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables weekly. Mix 50mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water.

Step 6 – Cabbage head formation.

  • Regularly check under the top leaves for caterpillars, aphids and earwigs, which can feed out of sight and damage the head.
  • The centre of the cabbage will start to form a ball (known as heading up). While the head feels soft, leave it to mature.
  • Every 6 to 8 weeks apply another application of PowerFeed Controlled Release for Tomatoes & Vegetables to produce a bumper crop.

Step 7– Cabbage harvest.

  • Harvest when heads are round, firm and heavy, usually 8-16 weeks from planting (smaller varieties mature faster).
  • Cut the head off at its base leaving larger leaves and stem in the ground.
  • Harvest as needed or, to keep, remove loose outer leaves and store in the crisper section of the fridge.Tip: The leafy stem left behind after harvest can reshoot forming tiny but edible heads.

Tip: The leafy stem left behind after harvest can reshoot forming tiny, but edible heads.

Things to watch for…

  • Aphids These tiny, narrow, black or green pests cluster on the head or under leaves. Squash or hose off.
  • Cabbage white butterflies and cabbage moth The green caterpillars of these small white butterflies and moths feed on all brassicas. Squash any seen or apply an organic pesticide like EarthCare Natural Pyrethrum insect spray. Erecting netted tunnels over the rows of cabbages prevents this pest from laying eggs on the crop and is a highly effective control measure.
  • Earwigs This tiny dark brown pest hides and feeds among the leaves making holes in the cabbage head. Squash any that are seen. Traps made of screwed up paper in a jar can reduce numbers. Empty traps each morning and squash any pests.
  • Slugs and snails These pests can destroy young plants. Slugs may also hide among the leaves and damage the cabbage head. Snails and slugs are active at night. Use iron-based, non-toxic baits.
  • Club root This fungal disease that affects growth and causes distorted swollen roots. Applying lime before planting reduces the likelihood of this disease.
How to grow vegetables - cabbages Handy Hints

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