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Growing Cabbage

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
    S P     P P P      

(Best months for growing Cabbage in USA - Zone 5a regions)

S = Plant undercover in seed trays P = Sow seed

  • Easy to grow. Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 41°F and 64°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 20 - 30 inches apart
  • Harvest in 11-15 weeks.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Dwarf (bush) beans, beets, celery, cucumber, onions, marigold, nasturtium, rhubarb, aromatic herbs (sage, dill, chamomile, thyme)
  • Avoid growing close to: Climbing (pole) beans, tomato, peppers (chili, capsicum), eggplant (aubergine), strawberry, mustard, parsnip
  • Winter cabbage
    Winter cabbage

There are many varieties of cabbage.

Those which stand winter weather usually have darker leaves and a stronger flavour, e.g. Savoy Red cabbage is grown in a similar way to green varieties.

If you choose a selection of types you can have cabbage growing all year round in temperate zones.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Cabbage

Young spring cabbage can be chopped and added to salad greens.
Steaming preserves the goodness and flavour of cabbage.
Can also be used in stir-fry.
Red cabbage chopped and cooked with brown sugar, red wine, onions, vinegar and stock is served with boiled bacon or pork.

Your comments and tips

23 Aug 18, Adam (South Africa - Semi-arid climate)
Hi! Can you please provide us with contacts of those who can help blacks emerging farmers. Planting cabbages is not an issue but market it is. If companies like tiger brand can come on board to help us we can be like those who are in cash crops farming knowing where to supply. Thank you (Gardenate is NOT a farming advisory service, so this is a one-off posting)
29 Jul 18, Kagiso (South Africa - Semi-arid climate)
My farming area is in the lowveld southern Limpopo area and wanted to plant cabbages in this August September months. I will solely depend on borehole irrigation. My region is hot in summer and my soil is red loam and I used chemical fertilizer to enrich. Is this the right time?
20 Jun 18, Steve from Kanahooka NSW (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Mike, Very interesting tips, I will try the worm castings in the shade cloth, sounds good. I also use brown gum leaves as a mulch around the plants, the garden worms love it, I also dig my browns into the soil after crops have finished as well, same as you. The reason I purchased a 2 compartment compost bin was to have varying compost NPK ratios. My compartment No.1 has 50% Browns to 50% Greens which is good for above ground growth and compartment No.2 will have approx. 80% Browns to 20% Greens for my below ground root vegies, I alter percentages all year round to suit the plants I am growing. In the winter I grow brassicas and I use 70% Greens to 30% Browns for more Nitrogen. I also pile my grass clippings on the gardens in the summer when I have excess clippings. BR...….Steve
21 Jun 18, Mike L (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I don't know the techie stuff about compost but I thought the greens (N) was only there to break down the brown (C) And you need to combine them with water and air to achieve compost. Once the N has been used up then the process loses the heat in it and it will go to cold compost. I didn't think there was much N in compost so different levels of G and B wouldn't make much difference. Be interesting to have them tested. My garden bed is a continuous bed so all the different plants are mixed up in rows. Low plants - lettuce radish shallots cabbage one end and the high plants - corn tomatoes snow peas the other end.
04 Jun 18, Steve from Kanahooka NSW. (Australia - temperate climate)
Just a friendly tip, I found Cabbage & Cauliflower are not compatible as companion plants, they hate each other. Last year I grew them in the same raised bed, what a disaster. I have now put them in separate raise beds with the beds 600mm apart and I now have a prolific crop of both. When I am raising the seedlings in the seed trays I also separate them by 300mm with very good results. Before I installed the raised beds I had small separate gardens all over my backyard and the plants were separated in different beds and I had prolific results back then. Hope this tip can help others
05 Jun 18, Mike L (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
They both come from the same family so I wonder what the problem is. I grow cabbage and broccoli together (same family) no problems. I don't seem to be able to grow caulies - get too big and no head forms.
06 Jun 18, Steve from Kanahooka NSW Australia (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Mike, Cabbage & Broccoli are OK, Cauli's & Cabbage hate each other. Brassicas are heavy feeders and require regular doses of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) as well as Calcium and essential trace elements. I have a Worm Farm as well as a 2 compartment compost bin and I have great heads on my Cauli's, but don't expose the heads to the sun or frost. Worm Pee and Worm Castings create bacterial and microbial activity and feed the roots of your plants with everything they need, I still use pelletised chook manure (PCM) plus Blood & Bone as well at planting. Your NPK ratio is extremely important for all plants. Also, check your Ph level, 6.5 to 6.8 is great for Brassicas. Good Luck.
08 Jun 18, Mike L (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hi Steve - I have great red soil (volcanic) with some grey sandy loan placed on it 18 years ago to make the garden bed. Over the years the grey sandy soil and red soil have mixed together. Over the years I have added plant residue and grass clippings in the summer when the bed is fallowed and turn it over several times. Then in March I added lime and fertiliser to it. I probably have too rich a soil. I have only ever tried caulies a few time and end up with huge plants 3'+ high and round. I planted them next to cabbage and broccoli. Broccoli 3'+ high and round. I know the ins and outs with fertiliser as I have farmed over the years. I have done a lot of reading the last 12mths and am fine tuning a lot of things in the garden. I also have a worm farm and use the castings (make a tea) for fert. I run my worm farm fairly dry so don't get much
13 Jun 18, Steve Donovan (Australia - temperate climate)
Hi Mike, A good tip with your compost is to mix 1 part of greens such as your plant residue & grass clippings (Nitrogen), with the same amount of brown material such as dried leaves, especially gum tree leaves & trigs (Carbon) mulched up in the mower, very important to have equal parts for a good balance, I rake up leaves & twigs around the parks & schools and around stormwater drains. Grass clippings & plant residue are great but full of nitrogen which will give you leafy caulis but no heads. Also, worm pee is very important, worm pee mixed with water @ 9:1 ratio & poured around the base of each plant every 3 weeks conditions the soil which releases the nutrients out of the soil for the roots to feed off, I start my worm pee after seedlings emerge in the seed trays, I keep my worm farm moist & I catch 1 litre a week, but next year I will be increasing that to 2 litres a week. I use my worm castings at planting time plus a side dressing every 2 months around my plants & use my worm pee as my tea. I have clay soil over here on the east coast and it took me years to get it friable but it paid off in the long run. Also, mulching around you plants is very important for moisture retention & worm activity, especially sandy soils. Dried gum leaves are so important in any soil as Carbon is a very important element for healthy growth. PS: Space your cabbages & Caulis & you will have great results. BR...….Steve
15 Jun 18, Mike L (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Steve - I read up heaps about worm leachate and tea (when I bought my worm farm) and about composting the last 12 mths. Owner of Kookaburra Worm Farm (Gin Gin QLD) told me the castings are far better than the leachate. I just take a heap of the worm castings /bedding (after it has been working for 2 mths) put it on some shade cloth over a 20 liter drum and hit it with the hose. I make about 15-20 liters. I then water this down 3 to 1 with water when putting it on. With the compost I read all about the cold and hot methods of doing it. I have read you can use anything from 50 to 95% brown (dry matter - carbon) to 50 to 5% green (green matter- nitrogen). I have used coffee grindings as my green matter. Making hot compost is a fair bit of work. Two neighbours collect their grass for me. I let it dry out. I then mix it with coffee grindings and wet it and turn it each 3-4 days. But I'm leaning to use dry matter now as a mulch and then turn it in when the crop has finished. During the summer fallow now I just build my compost heap on my garden and when near finished I just level the heap out and dig into the soil.
Showing 1 - 10 of 138 comments

Hello Rhonda. I have some suggestions: (i) patience (haha), (ii) think about the varieties of cabbages and caulies that might be suitable for your area (meaning choose quick growing varieties), (iii) plan your autumn planting and growing around your first frost and your spring planting around your last frost, (iv) buy a max/min thermometer for use in the poly tunnel, and (v) think about the effectiveness of a "double skin" poly tunnel. By suggestion (iii) above, I mean try to calculate how many weeks/months into autumn and winter you would like to keep growing your brassicas. Ditto for spring plantings. Hope that this helps. Kevin Tasmania

- Kevin Anderson

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