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Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Double Your Crops
  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
  List of vegetable crops by difficulty
  Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
  Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips

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Organic Gardening:

How to grow organic Cabbage

Savoy's wrinkled leaves can hold lots of gravy


Brassica oleracea Capitata group

Family: Cruciferae (Group 2)

Cabbage is traditionally served boiled to a pulp, losing most of its nutritional value in the process. But cooked lightly in just a small amount of boiling water, perhaps with onions or a few herbs, it is not only much tastier but also retains most of its vitamins. And the little wrinkles in Savoy cabbage can pick up lots of gravy or sauce. Most varieties are also good as a salad green.

This page covers Spring greens, Spring, Summer and Winter cabbage, whether green, white or red. Chinese cabbage is on a separate page, as are Abyssinian/Ethiopian cabbage and Warrigal cabbage, which is unrelated. Brief cultivation instructions for Jersey Walking Stick cabbage and Portuguese cabbage (Couve tronchuda) are given in the vegetable cultivation table.

Site and soil

Choose an open, unshaded site with fertile, well-drained and moisture retentive soil, which should be slightly acid (min pH 5.4, but see note on clubroot - add lime if necessary to adjust pH). Brassicas have a high nitrogen requirement and also need very firm soil. To ensure sufficient nutrient levels, it is best to topdress or apply a liquid feed such as seaweed fertiiser during growth.

Because brassicas are prone to soil infections, for example, Clubroot, it's important to use a minimum 3 year rotation plan.

Cultivation table to produce cabbage all year round

Late Winter/Celtic Cross F1May/June-JulyJan-Mar
Spring/AprilLate July/SeptApril-May
Early Summer/Hispi F1Jan-Feb under cover or March-AprilMay-June
Summer/Greyhoundearly April directJuly
late April directAugust
mid May directSeptember
Autumn/Winningstadtlate May directOctober
Winter/Xmas drumheadApril/June-JulyNovember-December

Ideal pH 6.2-6.6

It is possible to produce cabbage all year round by careful choices of cultivars, as shown in the cropping chart. Specialist varieties as follows:

White Cabbage: "Dutch winter whites" sow late April for maturity October to November. Recommended cultivars Hidena F1, Polonius F1.

Red cabbage: Summer types - sow mid March, transplant early May 22cm by 45cm (9"x18") or 32cm each way (13"x13"). Matures July to August. Recommend cultivars Langedijk Red Early - Norma, Ruby Ball F1.
Autumn types - sow late April, transplant early June 50cm each way (20"x20"). Harvest October to November. Recommended cultivars Autoro F1, Hardoro F1.

Savoy cabbage: sow late May. Harvest October to January.


Sow in a seed bed unless soil is heavy, in which case use seed trays or modules to minimise root disturbance. Sow 2-2.5cm (¾-1") deep, spacing 7.5cm (3") apart in the row. Transplant at about 10cm (4") tall or when the first true leaves develop to follow legumes or onto a site which was manured the previous Autumn.

On light soils, plant into drills 8cm (3") wide by 10cm (4") deep and earth the plants up as they develop until the soil is level, otherwise on the flat. Plant firmly enough that pulling on a leaf results in it tearing. Use brassica collars to prevent root fly.

Outdoor sowings 2.5-5cm (1-2") deep x 15cm (6") between rows.

Transplant spacings

Spring cabbage 15cm by 37-60cm (6"x15-24") (for spring greens 10cm by 30cm (4"x12"), cut two out of three for greens, leave the rest to mature)

Summer cabbage 45cm by 60cm (18"x24")

Winter cabbage 30cm by 45cm (18"x12") for smaller heads, 60cm by 45cm (24"x18") for larger heads.

In general, the closer the spacing, the smaller the finished crop.

Water after transplanting and daily in dry weather for 3-4 weeks, about ¼ pint per plant.

Hoe to keep weed free. Mulch to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Catch crops may be sown between rows early on, eg. radishes, lettuces, seedling salad crops.

Water up to 4 gallons per sq yard per week in dry weather. The minimum watering requirement is a single heavy watering 10-20 days before maturity.

Earth up winter varieties and remove rotten leaves regularly.

Harvest as crop matures. Spring and early summer varieties may be induced to produce secondary heads by cutting a cross in the top of the stem.

Pests and diseases

Cabbage caterpillars are the worst. Hand pick, spray with derris or use crop protection. An alternative is to use the predator Bacillus thuringiensis.

Note on clubroot

Soil may remain infected for 20 years; steps to avoid introduction include:

  • good drainage
  • rotation
  • liming acid soils to a pH around 7
  • working in high levels of organic matter
  • ensuring clean plants are used - source must be known to be free of disease (best grown at home in sterile medium)
  • boots and tools used on infected land must be thoroughly cleaned before use on clean land

Once infected avoid growing any brassicas except fast maturing types such as Texsel greens or cut and come again oriental seedlings. If you have no other land available, and you must grow types with a lengthy growing season, you can try sowing seed in modules, and potting up until the plants reach a height of 10cm (4") before planting out. A root drench may also help.

If you're interested in healthy food, you may also be interested in our sister site, The Health Site, Your Online Health Channel.

©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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