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How to Grow: Organic Cabbage

Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener 

Spring is just around the corner! This is the perfect time of year to brush up on your knowledge of growing techniques. Here at MIgardener, we want to share all of our favorite growing secrets; from our garden to yours. As you read through this post, you’ll find there is nothing simpler than growing organic!

Cabbage is a versatile veggie with a range of different uses and varieties. There are two main types of cabbage: loose heading and hard heading, with colors that range from dark green to purple and white. Some cabbages are produce most effectively at different points in the season. Early season cabbage is the sweetest, but has the shortest shelf life. Mid season is the most familiar and the quickest to grow. Late season cabbage is cold hardy and is perfect for storage. Late season cabbages often have such tightly packed heads that they can last up to three months in the refrigerator crisper!

The perfect addition to any garden! Cabbages are easy to grow and there’s one for every time of year!

Let’s get started.

Soil Prep:

Soil should be rich with organic material, but loose enough to work with. Add a mixture of one part compost and one part sand to keep soil rich and well drained. Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbages are prone to a disease called club root. Club root attacks the root structure and causes it to deform into gnarly knots and nodules, which has a negative effect on the roots ability to uptake water and nutrients.

Grow Broccoli

To prevent club root you must compress the soil where you want to plant, this removes air gaps that lead to the disease. Dig a trench approximately 2 inches deep and then lightly compress soil down with your foot or by pressing firmly with your hand. Soil should still be crumbly when moved, but have a noticeable density from the reduced air pockets. This is the same for any vegetable in the brassica genus like broccoli and cauliflower. Cabbage thrives in most soils as long as adequate moisture is present.

Fertilize:

Cabbage requires nitrogen rich fertilizer. Nitrogen is vital for the leaf growth of cabbages to begin.  Cabbage is a heavy feeder because of the intensity of it’s leaf development, so it’s important to add a second helping of nitrogen rich fertilizer 6-8 weeks after transplanting, especially if lots of rain has fallen. We apply Trifecta+ to the soil once before planting, and then a second time mid-season to boost the nutrients surrounding the plant.

Ph Levels:

Alkaline soil is best for all cabbage types. 7-7.5 on an acidity test.

Sunlight:

Cabbages need 5-7 hours of daily sun. The more sun they get, the better leaf growth. Full sun is especially important for the growth of the heads,

Water:

Generally a 1/2 gallon or 1 inch of water per week for most climates, but the plant requires adequate soil moisture to begin with. However, cabbage is more drought resistant than other brassicas. Apply moisture evenly late in the season or developing heads may split. Also, avoid late evening overhead watering because this tends to lead to diseases such as black rot and downy mildew.

Spacing:

If cabbages are planted too close together, they will be in danger of rotting because of a lack of airflow. Space them 12-24 inches apart to give enough room to develop large leaves. This will also give you more space to harvest when the time comes.

Temperature:

This cold weather crop will germinate in any temperature from 45-85 degrees F. Late season varieties can be harvested well into December in northern climates because of its tolerance to cold temperatures. Cabbages can withstand down to 20°F. Plant in April for early crop, and early July for late crop.

Harvesting:

60-95 days to maturity. As the season progresses, heads will begin to form at the center of the greens. Harvest when the heads are firm and have reached a desired size. Cabbages not harvested at the right time will be subject to head splitting. You can slow down this process by twisting the heads or slicing the roots. Eat soon after picking for the best flavor. However, under the right conditions (35°F with 95 percent humidity), you can store cabbage for up to six months with little to no loss in quality as long as you keep them away from apples, bananas or other ethylene generating fruits.

How to Grow Cabbage
Photo: Garden.eco

 

This grow guide is based on videos from our youtube! Find more information about MIgardener on Instagram, Facebook, or on our website at MIgardener.com 

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