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: 6 to 8”
Height: 12 – 18”
Optimum Soil Ph: 7.0
Days To Maturity: 60 Days
Sowing Method: Start Indoors or Direct Sow
Sow successionally from February to July
Nearly all brassicas should be planted in a seedbed or in modules under glass and then transferred. Seeds should be sown thinly, as this reduces the amount of future thinning necessary and potential risk from pests.
Sow seeds 1.25cm (½in) deep and space 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in) between rows.
Once the seeds have germinated, thin the seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) between each plant. After germination, seedlings will often be ‘leggy’, so plant them as deep as possible to really anchor them into the soil.
Cabbage seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are between 6 and 8cm high (2½ to 3in). Water the day before moving, and keep well-watered until established. Plant firmly, close together for small heads and wider apart for larger cabbages, around 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) apart. Cabbage seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are between 6 and 8cm high (2½ to 3in). Water the day before moving, and keep well-watered until established. Plant firmly, close together for small heads and wider apart for larger cabbages, around 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) apart.
Clear away any yellow leaves. Feed the plants as they near maturity with a foliar feed.
Harvest: June to August (through to October)
Earliest heads can be cut, leaving the stump in the ground to produce a second crop of small leafy heads.
Brassicas are affected by a wide range of pests and diseases, especially the fungal disease, club root. The roots become stubby and swollen and can develop wet rot, while leaves become yellow and wilt, causing severe stunting of growth. Remove any infected plants from the ground and destroy. Make sure the soil is adequately limed and well drained.
Rotate your crops annually to avoid disease. Don’t grow brassicas on the same plot more often than one year in three, as moving the crop helps avoid the build up of soil pests and diseases
Mint: Effective against Cabbage White Butterflies, Aphids / Flea Beetles
Thyme: To ward off that nasty Cabbage Worm!
Also useful: Sage, Oregano, Borage, chamomile and Nasturtium.