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Growing and Caring for Cabbage in the Vegetable Garden

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Red Drumhead Cabbages

Red Drumhead Cabbages

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Overview:

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.

Exposure:

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

Description:

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.

Harvesting:

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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