How To Grow Cabbages

How To Grow Cabbages

Cabbages – are used as a detoxifying agent in many cultures. Cabbage has lots of fiber and can be eaten raw, cooked, or fermented into sauerkraut. It has very few calories and highly beneficial to the body. Cabbage belongs to the Brassica Family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, collards, among others.

This gardener can grow cabbages! She makes amazing coleslaw

How to grow cabbages

  • A cool season vegetable that prefers full sun, but will tolerate some light shade.
  • They need regular moisture of 1” to 1.5” of water per week for optimum growth.
  • Susceptible to the same insects and diseases, which are several, as the rest of the family. Crop rotation, must include the whole family.   
  • Tolerant of light frost.
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Different types

  • Green cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage.
  • Some are smooth leaved, like the green or red cabbages.
  • The savoy cabbage has curly leaves.
  • Chinese cabbage forms spiky heads.
  • They will vary in size according to the variety but it is also dependent on the amount of water, and the level of nutrition of the soil.
  • Some cabbages grow to eight pounds (two feet high with a three foot spread).
  • Others get much larger if lots of water and good soil and nutrition are provided.

Read about growing broccoli another members of the cabbage family.

Seeds and Planting Times

The seeds of cabbage can germinate in cool temperatures as low as 45°F and as high as 85°F.  Start seeds indoors for 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in the spring. These spring plantings will be ready for harvesting from June to July, depending on the variety. The short season varieties can grow to have from 1 lb. to 3 lb. heads.

If you choose to direct seed, then do so as soon as the ground can be worked and the soil temperature is at 40°F. You can choose short season varieties for the spring and longer season varieties for the fall. You can start seedlings in mid-June or early July for a fall crop and keep them under partial shade.  Read more about starting your own seedlings by clicking here.

Red cabbage


Transplant are kept at the same root level as the original one. The stem can’t be covered with soil or planted deeper, as it will rot. When transplanting for a fall crop, these seedlings have been grown in a protective environment. It’s best to transplant them on a cloudy day so the shock of full sun doesn’t wilt them or burn them.


Cabbages must be mulch to have a successful crop. The roots tend to run close to the surface and can therefore dry out quickly or be injured when weeding. Straw mulch will keep weeds down and conserve moisture.


Cabbage takes a lot of nutrient from the soil.  Add a side dressing of organic fertilizer once the cabbage heads begins to form, or apply a good dosage of compost tea. Apply compost tea once a week once the head starts to form.

Check the underside of leaves for caterpillars often, to keep pest infestation at a minimum. See video on how to prevent insect infestations.


You can harvest any time after the heads have formed. To test the head formation, just squeeze the head and feel how large it has developed. They should be harvested as soon as they reach full maturity to prevent splitting or cracking after it rains.

When harvesting the head, cut close to the center or middle of the plant, leaving some of the outer leaves of the plant behind. Smaller heads or sprouts may develop at this base by the axil of the leaf and stem, usually in your spring crop.

At the end of harvesting, remove roots and all debris to keep insects under control and eliminate further spreading of cabbage worms and wilts.

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