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Growing and Caring for Cabbage in the Vegetable Garden


Red Drumhead Cabbages

Red Drumhead Cabbages

Photo: © Marie Iannotti


Cabbage is in the Brassica genus along with broccoli and cauliflower. Although it is the fourth most produced vegetable in the U.S., we tend to grow a small fraction of hundreds of varieties available. Cabbages are classified by head shape, round and flat-head being the most commonly seen, and come in white, green and purple. Taste varies by variety.

Latin Name:

Brassica oleracea

Common Name(s): Cabbage

Hardiness Zone:

Cabbage plants are biennials grown as Annual

Mature Size:

You can find small, softball sized varieties, but most cabbages are large plants with flopping outer leaves that can easily spread to 3 ft.


Cabbages can handle full sun to light shade. Gardeners in warmer climates will want to provide some shade during hot months.

Days to Harvest::

Varies with variety, but generally requires 50 - 60 days from transplant


Cabbages grown for their densely packed leafy heads. Some can be quite beautiful.

Cultural Notes:

Get an early crop started by setting out seedlings 2-3 weeks before the last expected frost. Space seedlings about 2-3 feet apart. A second crop can be planted in July. Even watering is the key to preventing cabbages from splitting.

Maintenance: Cabbage worms are the main pest threat. They don't do a great deal of damage and can be hand picked easily, if you can see them. Their coloring allows them t blend in with the cabbage.


Harvest when the head forms and they are firm to the touch. Leave the wide, outer leaves and just cut the head. Cabbages can be stored for months in a root cellar where the temperature is between 45 degrees F. and freezing.

Suggested Varieties:

'Early Jersey Wakefield' and 'Late Flat Dutch' have been popular for years.
'Red Acre'and 'Red Delight' are early, easy to grow purple varieties.

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