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How to Grow Cabbage

How to Start Lemon Seeds Indoors - watch on youtube
How to Grow Cabbage

Growing cabbages from seed provides a wealth of options in types of cabbage to grow. Start seed early indoors and then move seedlings outside and watch them go.

In most parts of the United States, gardeners can enjoy bountiful cabbage (Brassica oleracea, Capitata group) in spring and again in fall. Known as one of the cole crops, after the Latin word for stem or stalk, this cool-season vegetable grows best in the cooler temperatures these seasons provide. For beginning gardeners and old pros alike, cabbage provides an attractive and nutritious addition to your garden and diet. Grow homegrown cabbage with a few simple steps.
Step 1: Choose Your Cabbage
Gardeners aren't limited to the few cabbage types seen in most markets. Varieties come in miniature heads to mammoths, with leaves of green or purple, ruffled or smooth. Cabbages also offer choices suited to your end goals. Some varieties excel at winter storage, such as 'Storage No. 4' cabbage (Brassica oleracea 'Storage No. 4'), while some respond to a frosty nip with improved color and flavor, such as 'Deadon' cabbage (Brassica oleracea 'Deadon'). Other types, such as 'Tendersweet' cabbage (Brassica oleracea 'Tendersweet'), are best fresh or in cole slaw or salads, while drier types, such as 'Kaitlin' cabbage (Brassica oleracea 'Kaitlin') are perfect for sauerkraut.
Step 2: Plant Your Seeds
Cabbage can be grown from purchased transplants, but starting seed indoors is simple and keeps the door wide open for types to try. Plan your planting dates according to the last expected frost in your region. Young plants can go outside about four weeks before that date, and take an additional five to six weeks prior to that to get seedlings to the planting stages.
Plant cabbage seed 1/4 inch deep in a premoistened growing medium. Plant two seeds per small cell in flats or three to four seeds at 2-inch intervals in trays. Set the tray where it gets plenty of sun and where temperatures stay between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the growing medium evenly moist as the seedling emerge.
Step 3: Transplant Your Seedlings
When daytime outdoor air temperatures stabilize near 50 degrees Fahrenheit and cabbage seedlings have at least three leaves, they're ready to move into the garden. Cabbages prefer a sunny site with well-drained, yet moisture-retentive soil. Plant the seedlings at 6- to 12-inch intervals with 1 to 2 feet of growing room between rows -- or nearby plants, if intermixing in edible landscapes. Large cabbages will need growing room, so match your planting space to your plans.
Step 4: Care for Your Crop
Feed cabbage seedlings with a side-dressing of organic compost about three weeks after transplanting. Keep the area weeded well, so cabbages don't have to compete with weeds for nutrients and water. Consistent soil moisture is very important for cabbages. Overwatering or a heavy rainfall can cause head to split, particularly with early varieties, so keep soil evenly moist. Water the base around cabbages rather than the plants themselves to avoid encouraging diseases.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Harvest
Harvest young, tender cabbages to thin your crop and make room for larger varieties to grow. Harvest mature cabbages when the heads are full and firm. Use a sharp lettuce knife or other knife to cut the head from the base stalk, but leave the stalk and roots intact; some varieties will form bonus mini-heads on the stalks.
Most fall-grown cabbages store well through winter if kept cool and moist. Temperatures of 32 to 40 degrees with 98 percent to 100 percent relative humidity are ideal for storage. Keep cabbages away from all ethylene-producing vegetables or fruits, and enjoy your harvest all winter long.
For autumn cabbage harvests, plan your crop by counting backward from the date of your first expected frost so cabbage has time to mature fully. Midsummer plantings can be started in trays or sown straight into garden soil. In warmer climates, shade late-summer seedlings from afternoon sun.

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