Easy to grow and delicious to eat, this extremely hardy member of the brassica family is a cool season biennial grown as an annual. A tasty treat — whether raw or cooked — cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) is excellent in slaws, salads, soups or stir fried!
Packed full of vitamins like vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 and a healthy supply of minerals like potassium, cabbage is an excellent source of nutrition with many health benefits. The leafy vegetable also contains copious amounts of antioxidants, which prevent or slow cell damage and are known for their cancer-fighting properties.
Fun fact: One cup of shredded raw cabbage contains 190% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
Red or green, the crisp leaves of cabbage are a delight in slaws, salads and soups.View all
Red or green, the crisp leaves of heirloom cabbage are a delight in slaws, salads, soups, or stir fried. Planting instructions are included with each seed packet and shipping is FREE!
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Cabbage
- A perfect cool-weather crop to start the season
- Start seedlings inside 6-8 weeks before last frost
- Needs regular water and humus-rich, well-drained soil
- Heads can be harvested and stored in the refrigerator for the winter
- Pests and diseases include flea beetles, cabbage worms, root maggots, clubroot and fusarium wilt
Cabbage requires regular water, full sun to partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil. Plants thrive in soils with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. If possible, avoid starting cabbage in spots where other brassicas have grown the previous three years (see Crop Rotation In the Home Garden).
Humus-rich soil is the key to a great harvest, so add ample amounts of organic compost to the soil prior to planting.
How to Plant
Plant cabbage in the early spring or fall. Start seed indoors in propagation flats and transplant into the garden when two sets of true leaves develop. Cabbage is extremely hardy and can be grown among the earliest of cool-season crops. Allow approximately 15 inches between plants and 2-3 feet between rows.
If planting from seed, sow directly into the garden about 1/2 inch deep and two weeks before the last expected frost date. Cabbage is a heavy feeder and is susceptible to many nutrient deficiencies. Apply balanced organic fertilizers every 2-3 weeks according to the directions on the label.
Tip: Consider adding kelp meal to garden beds prior to planting. It’s packed with micronutrients and is especially good for supplying trace minerals to edible crops.
Harvesting and Storage
Depending on variety, transplants should be ready to harvest in 6-8 weeks. Cut the stalk at the base of the head with a pruning knife, remove, and compost the outer leaves. Wash heads carefully and refrigerate for up to two weeks, if necessary. It is best to harvest cabbage in the morning when the heads are crisp and still cool.
To reduce rot, make sure cabbage heads are completely dry before placing in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. Do not wash heads or remove outer leaves before storing.
Insect & Disease Problems
Covering young plants with floating row cover will protect plants from flea beetles, cabbage worms and root maggots. Collars made from paper cups with the bottoms cut out will also help protect young plants from many insect pests. Watch for small white butterflies fluttering around your cole crops. These are the adult stage of the very destructive cabbageworm. If found, mix 1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp Bt kurstaki (Bacillus thuringiensis) per gallon of water and apply when caterpillars are young. Repeat at 5-7-day intervals while they are active.
Seed Saving Instructions
This biennial vegetable will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate by one mile the second year when going to seed. In early spring of the second season, cut a shallow “X” in the top of the head. This will allow the emerging seed stalk to push up through the cabbage a bit more easily. The seed stalk actually pushes the head open and uncurls itself as it rises out of the head. It is a vegetable birth in the most graphic sense. The stalk will grow 3-4 inches tall before branching out. Seeds do not normally require much processing.
Kelp Meal (1-0.5-2)
Derived from Norwegian seaweed and infused with beneficial microbes.
Alaska Fish Fertilizer
An all-purpose, deodorized fish emulsion for use on all indoor and outdoor plants.
Bt kurstaki (Bt-k)
The most effective least toxic product available for leaf eating caterpillars.
Good things come in small packages! Made with a steel blade and solid oak handle.