How to grow: Cabbage

Close up image of a fully grown cabbage

Cabbage is another crop that has suffered the same prejudice as the Brussels sprout, again probably due to being served overcooked. However, if freshly cut and lightly cooked with still a bit of crunch in the leaves, this veg is simply delicious.

Cabbage is a member of the brassica family and is relatively easy to grow on most soils, although it does require careful attention particularly in the early stages of growth to keep pests such as caterpillars at bay.

Varieties

‘Primero F1’

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Produces compact heads with not too much core. Ideal for small veg patches where you want to grow at closer spacings. Savoy type producing dark green heads. Will remain in good condition on the plot once it reaches maturity.

‘Resolution F1’

Savoy type producing dark green heads. Will remain in good condition on the plot once it reaches maturity.

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‘Savoy King F1’

A classic which is still popular today. Large sweet-tasting cabbage.

‘Spring Hero F1’

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An early spring cabbage if sown in July

‘Minicole F1’

A great one for the small veg patch. Small dense heads

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‘Kilaton F1’

A new variety with resistance to the disease club root which can damage the roots stopping the cabbage from growing.

‘Advantage F1’

A great British bred cabbage that produces those ‘spring greens’. It is hardy and can be sown March to October so you can eat it all year round.

‘Hispi F1’

Has an RHS Award of Garden Merit and is an old favourite.

‘January King 3’

An old favourite with a great flavour and very reliable.

Close up image of a fully grown cabbage

Growing Tips

Sowing/planting

It is possible to sow and harvest nearly all year round. There are different varieties that can be sown at different times. All cabbages like a sunny or partly sunny site and a good fertile soil.

When preparing to sow or plant cabbages, the ground needs to be dug over and farmyard manure or garden compost added. A sprinkling of Growmore or chicken manure pellets a week or two before sowing or planting is a good idea too.

Sow cabbage in either a seed bed or in pots, trays or cell trays. Sowing in pots or cell trays is a good idea
because small seedlings are easily decimated by slugs and snails. Growing in pots or trays means you can control their environment until they are well established.

Sow in cell trays into a good multi-purpose compost. Put one or two seeds per cell and about 6mm (1⁄4in) deep. Water well and place in a cold frame, on a greenhouse bench or on a windowsill indoors.

As soon as the seedlings are through, thin out to one seedling per cell or if sowing in seed trays lift and move the seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle.

Growing on

When the plants are about 10cm (4in) high they can be planted outside. When planting make sure you firm well around the roots. Use your heel if necessary. If cabbages are planted loosely they will not produce a solid heart.

Keep the young cabbage plants free from pest attack by covering with some crop protection netting. Keep the plants well watered and add some high nitrogen feed occasionally. Remove any yellowing leaves and be vigilant for cabbage white butterflies.

Look for yellow clusters of eggs on the underside of leaves. Remove these with thumb and finger. If left these will hatch into a little army of hungry caterpillars that will soon transform your cabbages into lace!

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