Cabbage is the common name for a vegetable with the scientific name Brassica oleracea capitata.
The plant is characterized by its bud, which is made up of overlapping leaves to shape a head; it belongs to the Brassica family, which includes Broccoli and Cauliflower. Its varieties are categorized in green, red, and savoy.
Cabbage is a nutrient rich plant, and contains vitamin C, E, and calcium.
Cabbages at the market, photo by Cory Doctorow.
Cabbage is a cool season vegetable. It can tolerate frost as it grows and can tolerate temperatures below 20°F (-7°C). As it does not grow well in a hot weather it is important to start planting cabbage in time for harvesting during cool weather.
Cabbage has a preference for fertile soil, with good drainage, and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 pH.
Cabbage will grow better in a spot where it can have partial shade from the sun, and it grows best in soil that is blended with compost.
Cabbages growing in the garden by William Warby.
Cabbage can be started by sowing seeds directly into the ground. They can also be transplanted outdoors following the planting of cabbage seeds indoors.
When planting cabbage seeds outdoors, it is best to start them by sowing the cabbage seeds into a dedicated seed bed.
The cabbage seedlings should be thinned out to around 3 inches ( 7.5 cm) once the seedlings have reached around one inch (2.5cm) in height.
The seed bed should be kept moist. Transplant them to their final location when they are around 5 inches(13 cm) tall, and have at least four leaves.
Young Cabbage plant picture by Lirneasia.
If sowing cabbage seeds directly (and when transplanting cabbage seedlings into the soil), they should be spaced at least 18 inches (45 cm) apart, with the rows at least 24 inches (60 cm) apart.
The soil has to be firm and packed because the roots need to be completely covered. Cabbage plants need to grow in soil with abundant moisture and lots of air.
Cabbage plants need to be watered regularly to keep the soil moist as they grow. They also perform best when they get a good supply of cool air. They should not be watered when their heads are reaching maturity.
The soil around the cabbage plants should be cultivated regularly to keep weeds from growing, but the soil should not be loosened enough that the the soil bed becomes uniform.
A lightweight cover over the cabbage rows can be used to help protect them from pests and insects.
Cabbage plants are heavy feeders, and ideally a general purpose garden fertilizer should be applied to the soil bed once a month.
Cabbage should not be handled when they are wet.
Cabbage plants mature in 80 to 180 days from the time of seed planting.
They should be harvested before the weather gets warm, and when their heads are already firm.
They are harvested by cutting the head off, and leaving the outer leaves on the stem. The stump left in the ground can produce another crop of cabbage heads when the first heads are harvested.