By Joan Casanova for Bonnie Plants
Photographs courtesy of Bonnie Plants
If you didn't plant cabbage this fall, you'll have another opportunity in early spring.
Cabbage is a cool-season vegetable, which can be planted in early spring and fall. It's part of the cole crop family (Brassica oleracea), which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. Cole crops love cool weather and are hardy enough to tolerate a frost. When nipped by frost, flavor is sweetened! The trick to growing cabbage is steady, uninterrupted growth, rich soil, proper watering and fertilization!
Top Tips for growing cabbages:
Supplement your soil: Buy an inexpensive soil test kit at almost any garden retailer. Soil test results determine what your soil may be lacking; then you can easily amend and supplement your soil accordingly. Remember, your soil is the foundation for the health and well-being of your plants.
Use transplants like Bonnie Plants: All the hard work is already done for you and you'll harvest 6 weeks sooner than starting from seed! Proper spacing will be identified on plant tags.
Feed your food plants (they're hungry!): Use a good time-release vegetable food (14-14-14), prior to planting, or feed regularly with a plant food of choice. Just be sure to always follow label directions.
Water wisely: Cabbage demands even moisture to produce good heads. Water regularly, applying 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week if it doesn't rain. Always water in the early part of the day, at soil level and try to avoid wetting the leaves. Never, ever put your plants to bed wet, to avoid plant stress!
Must have mulch: Mulch cabbage plants with compost, finely ground leaves, or finely ground bark to keep the soil cool, moist and keep weeds down.
Patrol for pests: Holes in a cabbage's leaves are a sure sign that cabbageworms or cabbage loopers may be attacking the plant. Look for these green pests on the underside of leaves, where they like to hide. Pick them off quickly before they munch holes in your cabbage!
Harvest hint: Squeeze the cabbage head to test whether it's ready to harvest. If the head feels solid and firm, it's ready to be cut from the base of the plant. If it feels loose, leave it in the garden to harden up a little longer.
When you're ready to plant cabbage next season, start before the temperatures rise. If you live where the weather heats up fast, fall is your best bet to plant, or about eight weeks before your first frost. Bonnie Plants offers a great selection of cabbage varieties. Learn about more than 250 varieties of vegetables and herbs, how to grow, troubleshooting, tips, helpful videos and even recipes, here: www.bonnieplants.com.
Get Kids Growing Cabbages Too!
Vegetable gardening teaches kids where food comes from, healthy eating and gets them outdoors, engaging with nature.
A great way to get kids started in the garden is the National Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program. It's free to any third grade classroom in the country. Third grade teachers can register NOW, by signing up for the 2018 program.
Former Kansas state winner, Baylee Newberry, grew this humongous winning cabbage!
In 1996, Bonnie Plants initiated the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program in Union Springs, Alabama. By 2002 the program included participation in the 48 contiguous states with more than 1 million children growing huge cabbages in their own backyards! Bonnie's mission is to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people and teach children, with firsthand experience, where their food comes from.
Each year, Bonnie Plants trucks more than 1 million free O.S. Cross cabbage plants to third grade classrooms across the country. O.S. stands for oversized… O.S. Cross cabbages can grow upwards of 40 pounds, making the initiative quite engaging and exciting for kids!
Third grade teachers distribute the 2" cabbage plants and growing instructions Bonnie Plants delivers to students to carry home and grow. At the end of the growing season, teachers select a class winner, based on size and appearance, and that submission (digital image of child with their cabbage) is entered in a statewide scholarship drawing. The 48 state winners are randomly selected by each state's office of the Department of Agriculture, and Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship towards education to one student in each state.
As one of the first companies to sponsor a national vegetable gardening initiative for kids, Bonnie Plants has delivered over 14 million cabbage plants nationwide in the past 15 years, fostering a growing interest in gardening, healthy eating, nurturing nature and the environment.