Cabbages in the Heirloom Garden

by bestseeds on March 24, 2012

Heirloom cabbage is a very dependable crop and throughout the ages, the peasants of Europe ate alot of it.  It is easy to grow and to store; it is nutritious and can withstand cold weather down to 20°.  In areas with long summers, you can grow two crops. It is found that people who eat alot of cole crops have a lower incidence of cancer.

Cabbages like heavy soil with lots of organic matter.  They are heavy feeders.  Cow manure applied in the fall before planting or even fresh cow manure is helpful.  Try to grow cabbages early in the season as they don’t like hot weather.  You can grow them inside from seed, or buy plants and set out a few weeks beforee the last frost.  Seedlings are ready to be set out when they have 4-5 true leaves; they are about 4″ high.  Do not let them set in small pots too long.

To transplant, but bury them in the ground up to their first leaves. Firm the soil around them and water them in.  Space them 12 -15″ apart; 18″ if your soil is poor or you want larger heads.  Do not let them get stressed for lack of water or nutients or too much weed competition.  I like to mulch them; it helps keep the soil cool and moist.

Cabbages often are visited with caterpillers.  It is not difficult to pick them off, checking every few days.  If you choose, you can spray with Bacillus thuringensis. It is not toxic.

Harvestheirloom cabbages when they are large and solid. Cut through the main stem of the plant, leaving the few bottom leaves there to get a cleaner head.  Cabbage can be stored in a plastic bag for weeks in the refrigerator.  In mild areas, they can also last most of the winter in the garden.

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