It is difficult to trace the exact history of cabbage, but it was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC, although savors were not developed until the 16th century. By the middle Ages, it was a prominent part of European cuisine. Cabbage heads are generally picked during the first year of the plants’ life cycles, but those intended for seed are allowed to grow a second year, and must be kept separated from other cold crops to prevent cross-pollination. Cabbage is prone to several nutrient deficiencies, as well as multiple pests, bacteria and fungal diseases.
Cabbage is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber. Studies suggest that it, as well as other cruciferous vegetables, may reduce the risk of some cancers, especially those in the colorectal group. This is possibly due to the glucosinolates found in cold crops, which stimulate the production of detoxifying enzymes that remove carcinogens created during metabolism, or due to the sulphoraphane content, also responsible for metabolic anti-carcinogenic activities. Purple cabbage also contains anthocyanins, which in other vegetables have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Along with other cold crops, cabbage is a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells and has been shown—in experiments using cell cultures and animal models—to block the growth of cancer cells. Research suggests that boiling these vegetables reduces their anti-carcinogenic properties.
Sun: Full Sun to Light Shade
Spacing: 9 to 12” apart
Height: 12 – 18”
Optimum Soil Ph: 7.0
Days To Maturity: 95 – 110 Days
Sowing Method: Indoors or Direct Sow Outdoors
When to sow outside: 4 to 6 weeks before average last frost for a late summer crop or 3 to 4 months before average first fall frost for a fall crop.
When to start inside: 4 to 6 weeks before average last frost for spring transplanting, or 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting outdoors for fall crop. Start in pulp pots that go directly in the ground for minimal transplant shock.
Harvesting: Harvest heads as soon as they are well developed, firm, and solid when squeezed. Cut off heads at base with a sharp knife. Cabbages left in the ground beyond maturity are more subject to disease and splitting.