10 secrets for planting and growing cabbage in your garden
Cabbage is the king of winter salad and one of the most popular vegetables that we grow in the garden and in a pot starting from the autumn season. Cabbage leaves are eaten fresh in salads with carrots and lettuce or cooked in many delicious recipes, such as traditional cabbage stuffing. In addition to great taste, cabbage has significant nutritional value as it is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Cabbage belongs to the same family as cauliflower and broccoli. Although it is a biennial plant, it is cultivated as an annual for its leafy head. The head of the cabbage, in fact, is a short shoot from which many leaves develop, creating the well-known round shape we all know. Let’s see in detail how we can plant cabbage in the garden or in a pot on the balcony and what care is needed to enjoy the most delicious and crunchy cabbages.
What varieties of cabbage do we choose for planting in the garden and in a pot?
There are many local and foreign varieties of cabbage to plant. Cabbage varieties are distinguished by the color, texture and size of the head, as well as by the early or late harvest. Let’s look at some key features that distinguish the cabbage varieties grown in our country.
– Fluffy varieties of cabbage
The fluffy varieties of cabbage form a large head that can reach up to 4-5 kg. They have white-green color of leaves and are harvested about 3 months after planting. The fluffy cabbage varieties have soft and tender leaves that are used for salads or for cabbage stuffing.
– Semi-hard cabbage varieties
If we want cabbage for salad, we choose semi-hard varieties of white cabbage that have delicious and crunchy leaves. Semi-hard cabbage varieties form a head size of 1.5 to 3 kg, are more resistant to disease and after harvest can be stored longer in the refrigerator. They are distinguished in early, mid-early and late varieties that usually require 2-4 months for harvesting after transplanting.
– Red cabbage varieties
Red or purple cabbages form a much smaller head that weighs 1-2 kg and is more compact. Their leaves are much harder than white cabbage and have a more spicy taste. It is worth mentioning that red cabbage varieties have more antioxidants and vitamins than white cabbage varieties.
– Savoy cabbages: gray-green with curly leaves
Savoy or Milanese cabbage is an Italian variety of cabbage with gray-green curly leaves that looks like it has wrinkles or bumps. This particular variety of cabbage produces a large head, with leaves from light to dark green and has a relatively milder taste.
What conditions does cabbage cultivation need to thrive?
Cabbage is a cold season plant and the ideal temperature for its growth is 15-18 degrees Celsius. Cabbages are planted mainly in sunny places, although semi-shady places are useful in early summer plantings where there is a lot of heat. Cabbage can grow in all types of soils except very acidic soils. It is important that the soil is well drained to remove excess water from the irrigation and to ensure good ventilation of the roots. For early cabbages we prefer sandy, slightly warm soils, while for late ones we prefer heavier and more fertile soils with good drainage, rich in organic matter.
How do we plant cabbages and at what distances?
We can create cabbage plants from seed to preserve traditional varieties or keep our own seeds from the plants every year. Planting in bed takes 4-6 weeks until the young plants are ready for transplanting in the field. Ideal temperatures for seed germination and plant growth are 15-20 degrees Celsius. Alternatively, we can procure ready-made cabbage plants from agricultural stores and nurseries in our area.
Cabbage is transplanted from mid-August to early November depending on the conditions we grow in each area. During transplanting, cabbages are planted in rows 80-100 cm apart, while the ideal distance between cabbage plants in the same row is 50-60 cm. We avoid dense planting of cabbage, because there is a risk of developing diseases due to poor ventilation.
How to grow cabbage in a pot?
The cultivation of cabbage develops a large leaf area and gives one harvest per plant, which discourages many from growing cabbage in a pot. To grow cabbages on the balcony, we choose pots with a diameter of about 25 cm which we place on a balcony facing south or west. At the base of the pot, place a layer of gravel for better drainage of water and then fill the pots with special humus for vegetables. Alternatively, we can make our own planting mix, using fluffy garden soil (soil from the garden), well-digested manure and perlite in a ratio of 3-2-1.
How often does cabbage cultivation need watering?
Cabbage has a superficial root system and needs a lot of frequent watering, as it has high water requirements. Especially in the developmental stage of the head, constant soil moisture is required in the soil so that no cracks are observed in its formation. In early plantings that take place in late summer, we make sure to water the young cabbage plants frequently to avoid problems in their growth. Indicatively, the cultivation of cabbage needs watering about every 1-2 days in late summer and 2-3 a week during the autumn period. In any case, make sure to water as soon as the soil dries.
How often put fertilizer in cabbages?
The cultivation of cabbage is demanding in nutrients to have good growth and give us quality production. Cabbage fertilizer should contain nitrogen and potassium, as well as trace elements boron and magnesium. When planting the cabbage, add digested manure and compost to the soil. Then, 2 weeks after transplanting, add complete organic fertilizer with high potassium content and repeat every month. It should be noted that excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer contribute to poor quality, poor shelf life and cracking of the cabbage head.
Which insects and which diseases affect the cultivation of cabbage?
Cabbage is infested with various insects such as cabbage caterpillar, aphids, mealybugs, stink bugs and blackbirds. To treat insects that infest cabbages, we use organic insecticides such as Thuringia bacillus, potassium salts and natural pyrethrum. Alternatively, we can make an improvised ecological recipe with garlic, onion, red hot pepper and green soap following the steps mentioned in the article for the protection of plants with natural ingredients.
What are the main problems that arise in the cultivation of cabbage?
Growing cabbage can cause many problems. Let’s look at some typical symptoms that appear in cabbages, in order to know them and be able to treat them in a timely manner in the appropriate way.
– Yellowing of the leaves and reduced sprouting of the cabbage
The appearance of yellow leaves, which is usually observed in the lower leaves of cabbage and is often accompanied by reduced growth, is due to the lack of nitrogen fertilization. To deal with this, we add organic fertilizer with a high nitrogen content in the early stages of cabbage growth.
– Appearance of brown edges on the foliage of cabbage
Cabbage leaves may be browned at the edges. If browning is observed on the inner leaves, it may be due to a lack of calcium. When the edges of the outer leaves turn brown, it is due to the intense heat and high temperatures. To treat the browning of the leaves, make sure to carry out regular watering, add calcium and avoid excessive fertilization with nitrogen.
– Hollow sprout of cabbage and broken leaves
The appearance of a hollow sprout of cabbage accompanied by leaves that break easily, is due to lack of boron. To treat hollow cabbage sprouts, spray with liquid trace element fertilizer or liquid algae fertilizer containing boron in their composition.
– Small cabbage head and dull leaf color
The appearance of a small head of cabbage that has soft leaves and does not grow, is due to lack of potassium. Especially in red cabbage varieties, the lack of potassium also causes a dull color of the foliage. To prevent the problem, we add organic fertilizer with high potassium content.
– Cabbage head cracking
Irregular watering and especially excessive watering after conditions of intense heat and heat, can cause the cabbage head to burst. Also, the cracking of the cabbage head is favored when we put an excessive amount of nitrogen fertilizer.
When do we harvest the cabbages and how do we preserve them?
Cabbage is harvested by hand when it reaches the final size of the head. At this stage it is cohesive, crunchy and quite hard when pressed. Usually, when the size of the head remains constant for 2 weeks, no matter how big it is, we have to harvest it. This is usually done 2-4 months after planting depending on the variety. If we delay the harvest, there is a risk of rotting or cracking. The cabbage is stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, as long as we cover it with a special nylon film so that no tanning appears on its leaves.
And a secret for growing cabbage
Cabbage can be planted together with other vegetables and give a rich production. After all, co-cultivating vegetables is an ecological way to achieve better utilization of water, soil nutrients and fertilizer. Cabbage can be successfully cultivated with lettuce, potatoes, spinach, cucumbers and beans and give us high yields in quality and quantity.
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