Cabbage seems to be one of those vegetables that we have a love-hate relationship with. It's fun to grow - bears a freaky resemblance to the carnivorous plant in the film Little Shop of Horrors - and is a healthy option but once it has been cooked it transforms into a foul smelling soggy green matter that very few people enjoy eating.
Over the years this perception has changed and now with the large range of cabbages that are available it can actually taste quite nice. The different types all fall into the following categories:
- Spring - planted early autumn to be harvested from spring onwards.
- Summer - these reach maturity in the summer or autumn; they have ball-shaped centres.
- Winter - these are ball-headed cabbages which can come in green or white varieties, sow from May to harvest from November onwards; the white variety is excellent for cole-slaw
- Savoy - Easily recognisable by their dark green rippled and puckered leaves: they are usually harvested between September and March.
- Red - usually purchased as pickled cabbage or used grated in salads but not popular with growers; might be worth experimenting with as they are ready for harvesting from early autumn and can be stored over winter.
- Chinese - these look and behave more like a Cos lettuce than cabbage; they also need watering in dry weather.
These plants like sunny positions in non-acid soil. Well worth fertilising the soil before planting.
Seedlings need planting about 3" apart in rows. Do not transplant seedlings until they have 6 leaves.
When transplanting leave 1 & 1/2 foot diameter free around plants for the large headed varieties; for the spring varieties you only need to leave around 4" however always follow the instructions on the seed packet.
As with most seedlings and young plants birds and weeds are always a problem so netting and regular weeding is recommended. The plants will need to be watered regularly until they become established and if the weather is dry.
Cut using a sharp knife close to ground level. If you are harvesting spring or summer cabbages cutting a 1/2 cross into the stump will encourage a secondary crop.
- Sow a few at a time to stagger growth and harvesting.
- Plants can take anything between 10 to 35 weeks to reach maturity so plan well ahead
- Red or white cabbages can be stored in straw-lined boxes in a cool dry pace up until March.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015