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Harvesting and Storing Cabbage and Kale

Growing Cabbage and Kale in the Home Vegetable Garden


Harvesting Cabbage and Kale

  • Cabbage: Harvest cabbage anytime after the heads form. Test that the heads are solid (firm to pressure), but harvest before they pass their prime and crack or split.

    For spring planted cabbages, cut the head only; do not pull up the whole plant. Cut as close to the lower surface of the head as possible; leave the loose outer leaves intact. Buds will grow in the axils of these leaves, forming “cabbage sprouts.” Pick them when they are firm and 2 to 4 inches across.

  • Kale: Harvest when leaves are large enough for intended use. Tender young leaves are best for salad, older leaves for cooking. Pick outer leaves as you need them and kale will keep producing new inner leaves, like cut and come again lettuce. Frost improves the flavor of kale.

Storing Cabbage

  • Cabbage: Late fall or winter cabbage can be stored for several months in humid conditions as close to freezing as possible. Pull out the cabbages and hang in a moist cellar, roots and all, or cut heads, remove loose outer leaves and spread one layer deep on shelves or pallets in a moist root cellar. Store only disease-free heads.

  • Kale: Mature kale plants survive to 10̊F or below, meaning you can store your kale plants right in the garden. Mark the site so you can find the fresh greens under the snow

Considerations for Growing Cabbage and Kale in a Home Garden

Suggested Varieties

How to Grow Cabbage and Kale from Seed or Transplant

Sources: NGB fact sheet by Cathy Wilkinson Barash, Stephanie Turner of Geo. W. Park Seed Co. Inc., Matthew Linder of Sakata Seed America, Inc., and Dan Croker of Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc.

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