Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)

When to Plant

Sow directly outside in late spring or start indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost.

Location/Soil

A cool weather crop that likes well drained, moisture retaining soil. Plant in full sun. Plants do best in rich soil – the addition of compost or well rotted manure to the planting area will keep the soil in great shape.

Planting & Growing Information

Sow seeds 13 mm (1/2″) deep and 13 mm (1/2″) apart. Plants should be spaced 45 cm (18″) apart with rows spaced 60 cm (24″) apart.

When starting indoors it is easiest to sow 3-4 seeds in a Jiffy pot and then thin to the strongest plant. It is best to have transplants set out into the garden by the time they have 6-8 true leaves.

Seeds germinate in approximately 7-10 days.

Days to Maturity

From the date transplanted into the garden. If sown direct into the garden add approximately 20 days.

Other Information

To reduce the risk of disease it is ideal to practice crop rotation and plant in a different area of the garden that has not grown cabbage or its relatives (broccoli, cauliflower, kale) in the previous 2-3 years.

Splitting in cabbages can be caused by a sudden growth spurt or when plants receive a heavy rain after a dry spell. It is less of a problem with mid to late-season varieties.

Types of Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage also known as curly cabbage originated in Italy. Its crinkly leaves are quite pretty and are considered the most tender and sweet. Delicious thinly sliced in salads, quickly stir-fried, or braised in butter, this cabbage stands up better to longer cooking times.

Green Cabbage: These long-lasting cabbages are solid and compact. Use it in salads and slaws, stir-fry it, or long-cook it to bring out its essential sweet nature. Harvest heads that feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size), with tightly packed, moist looking leaves.

Red Cabbage looks like green cabbage but is a beautiful red/magenta color. Red cabbage heads tend to be a bit smaller than green cabbages, but look for similarly tightly packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that feel heavy for their size. Red cabbage is delicious thinly sliced in salads, mixed into slaws with green cabbage, or cooked.  Note: red cabbage turns an odd blue color when cooked. Counteract this effect by adding some sort of acid (vinegar or lemon juice are common choices) when cooking it.

Harvesting & Storage

Cut heads from the cabbage plants once they feel hard and are tight and solid.

Store cabbage in a cool area (slightly above freezing is best) with good air circulation and humidity.

Mid-season or late-season varieties store better over longer periods of time.

Keep early cabbages or damaged heads in the crisper of the refrigerator and use with 1-2 weeks.

Companion Planting:

Likes: Beetroot, potato, oregano, sage.