Cabbage, one of the most abundant crop is very easy to grow and most importantly very delicious to eat. This belongs to the Brassica family and is hard cool season biennial vegetable which is grown as annuals. You say anything, raw or cooked, it is tasty and they are excellent in salads, soups, stir fried etc.
Cabbages are rich in vitamins – vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 and are an excellent source of nutrition with a healthy supply of minerals like potassium. This leafy vegetable is also has abundant antioxidants, which prevents cell damage and they are known for their cancer-fighting properties.
Cabbage requires a fertile soil and it needs regular watering. The soil should be well drained and it requires full sun to partial shade. The pH of the soil should be between 6 and 6.5. Make sure, you don’t grow cabbage in a place where brassicas are grown in the previous three years. Of course, the key to a great harvest is the humus rich soil, so before planting add good amount of compost to the soil.
How to Plant
You can plant the vegetable in early spring. I would suggest you to start the seeds indoors in a propagation flat and when the seedlings develop two sets of true leaves, you may transplant in your garden. Cabbages are extremely hard and they can be grown along with the earliest of cool-season crops. Make sure you keep at least 15 inches between plants and about 2-3 feet between the rows.
If you are planting from seeds, sow directly to the soil about 1/2 inch deep. Add organic fertilizers every 2-3 weeks accordingly as they are very susceptible to many nutrient deficiencies because of its heavy feeder nature.
The vegetable can be harvested in 6-8 weeks depending on the variety. Cut the stalk carefully at the base of the head with a pruning knife. Remove the outer leaves and keep that for composting. The best time to harvest is in the morning when the heads are cool and are crisp.
Once harvested, you can keep it in the refrigerator after washing up to 2 weeks. Before storing in a refrigerator, make sure the heads are dry to reduce rot.
Insects and Diseases
Covering the young plants with row cover will protect the cabbage from cabbage worms, flea beetles, and root maggots. Young plants can also be projected from insect pests by keeping a collar made from paper cups with the bottom cut out. Look out for small white butterflies flapping around your cold crops. They are the ones which forms the cabbage worms. In case you found them, in a bucket of water mix 1 and half teaspoon of Bacillus thuringiensis (available at stores) and apply to the plants. Repeat frequently in 5-7 days of interval depending on the invaders.
Some of the cabbage diseases are wilting, damping off and clubroot. I would suggest not to use overhead sprinklers while watering because these problems needs wet leaves.