Growing Cabbage in Your Vegetable Patch
It’s best to start growing cabbages in a nice sunny area of your garden. Cabbage likes a rich soil that’s full of nutrients so dig in some well rotted manure or compost during the autumn.
A good soil pH for growing cabbage is around 6.0 to 7.0. You can test your soil with a little tester kit from your local garden centre. If you find that your soil is to acid you can add some lime to increase the pH of the soil.
Growing Cabbage – Sowing and Planting
When growing cabbages each different variety needs to be sown at different times of the year. So you need to read the seed packet to see when to sow you chosen cabbage variety.
You can sow seeds in either a seed tray or outside in a seedbed. My preferred way is to sow the plants outside in a seedbed – because the soil is very light and sandy and it grows strong healthy plants outside. But many people I know grow their cabbage plants in a seed tray.
To make a seedbed outside you need to rake over the soil and stamp it down with the bottom of the rake to make a fine seedbed. But two stakes on either end to mark a straight line and make a ½” shallow drill along the length of the string with a trowel. Sow the seeds in the drill very thinly. Cover lightly and water in. Remember: mark the row and put a label with the variety sown. You need to keep the seed bed moist when the weather is dry, do not over water – always use a fine watering can spray.
You can also sow the cabbage seeds in a tray filled with multi-purpose compost, firm the top of the compost and water, sow the seeds very thinly and cover with a thin layer of compost put the tray in a greenhouse or somewhere warm.
When the plants are about 2″ tall you need to thin the plants to about 4″ apart in each of the rows in the outside seedbed. This is to allow the plants to grow big and strong.
The young cabbage plants are ready to plant out when they are around 5 to 7″ tall. Water the cabbages plants the before you dig them up and plant them in there permanent position.
If you have sown your cabbage plants in multi-purpose compost you can transplant each individual plant in a 3” pot filled with multi-purpose compost and leave the plants until they are about 6” tall and then transplant them into their permanent position.
When you transplant the plants into the permanent position – water the soil prior the planting, dig a whole put the plant in and fill the whole with soil – make sure that the soil is firm around the base of the plant. You’ll need to leave between 12 and 18″ between each plant.
Growing Cabbage – Taking Care Of Your Plants
Once the plants are planted they are easy to look after. Keep the weeds down by hoeing around the plants. Also mulch around the plants – using grass clippings – this keeps moisture in the soil and also keeps any weeds down.
When it’s hot and sunny you will need to water regularly. Also give the plants a feed of some fertilizer or chicken pellets.
Pests & Diseases
Cabbage white butterfly - The summer is peak time for pests especially the cabbage white butterfly. Be vigilant for cabbage white butterflies, both the small and large white. Look for yellow eggs on the underside of the cabbage leaves. Remove these with your thumb and finger as otherwise they will hatch into caterpillars. And caterpillars will destroy your plants. It’s quite wise to invest in some Micromesh or Enviromesh to protect your cabbages
Whitefly – will be obvious when you see clusters of whitefly sticking together. You can spray them with soapy water or hose them of with the hosepipe.
Club root - is an infection of the roots that is common in some soils and is often found in damp summer and autumn which can bring on symptoms of this disease. The root will get a large swelling and look distorted and this will cause the plant to grow much smaller then normal.
A sign of clubroot is if your cabbages wilt in hot weather although they’ve had water – there is usually then a problem at the roots and it most probably is club root. Pull the plants up and burn them or take them to the local tip.
You can use a protective disc which you place at the base of the brassica plant. The cabbage root fly lays their eggs in the soil and when they hatch the maggots will burrow down and start to feed on the roots. The discs can be bought ready made from a local garden centre or you can make them yourself out of roofing felt or carpet.
If you like cabbage then it’s well worth growing cabbage in your garden – the taste is so much better then shop bought ones and of course there isn’t all those pesticides on them either.