June 15, 2016

Tips on Growing Cabbage


This has been a big gardening year for me, in more ways than one. I'm building raised beds, and I'm expanding the size of the garden (not as quickly as I was hoping, though).


I'm also growing many things that I've never grown before. One of those is cabbage.

Hubby loves cabbage. He'd rather have a cabbage salad than one made of lettuce. Steamed cabbage, cole slaw and stuffed cabbage rolls are comfort foods from his childhood.

Growing cabbage

Cabbage is easy to grow from seed, but in early spring a nine-pack of cabbage plants came home with me. I planted them in a four-foot by three-foot area of my first raised bed.


It grew really well. I soon learned that cabbage plants need more than a square foot of space per plant. According to Bonnie Plants, cabbages should be planted 18"-24" apart - and I believe it!

I surrounded each plant with a ring of crushed eggshells to deter slugs and cutworms.

My plants were huge and gorgeous. But I wondered when they would start forming "heads", and if I was supposed to do something to make that happen.


I did some research but didn't find anything addressing this question specifically... but I also didn't find directions to "do something," so I didn't.


Eventually I learned that all I needed was patience; the plants began forming heads on their own when it was time.

Organic remedy for cabbage worms

One morning my beautiful cabbages had holes in the leaves. I knew that meant the dreaded cabbage worms had arrived. I picked off half a dozen little green caterpillars and dropped them into a jug of compost tea because that's what was convenient.


I whipped up a gallon of garlic spray by combining 1% minced garlic, 1% fish oil, and 98% water. (See my post on measuring by parts if you need a little help with the measuring.) Let this brew overnight, then strain out the garlic and pour the solution in a pump sprayer. Spray liberally on the cabbage leaves and head to repel the cabbage worms. Since it rained nearly every day for the next two weeks, I reapplied the spray after each rain.


Although I still found an occasional cabbage worm on the underside of the cabbage leaves, this really helped to keep the outbreak under control. The only damage was to the outer leaves, which are discarded anyway after harvesting the cabbage head.


Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage takes approximately 70 days to harvest. I let mine grow a bit longer, but by mid-June it was HOT and I was afraid the plants would bolt, so I started by harvesting the two largest heads.

Related Posts: what to do with nine heads of cabbage!
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Freezing and Dehydrating Cabbage

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.



This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, 
I will receive a small commission, but it doesn't affect the price you pay. 
Thank you for supporting Oak Hill Homestead!


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for this guide, it gives me a little more confidence that I might actually succeed in growing leafy vegetable like cabbage. In the past I've always been put off by the prospect of fighting against pests, but your natural remedy sounds like a great solution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be afraid to try, Catherine. And if you can - this is what I was planning to do but didn't get it done early enough - cover the cabbage plants completely with screen or netting to keep the butterflies from laying their eggs at all. No cabbage worms!

      Delete
  2. I enjoy reading your garden blogs very much. I have one way of getting rid of cabbage worms that has been handed down for many generations in my family and one I use still today. I grow 80-100 heads of cabbage for my sauerkraut and a food pantry. My Dad's Great-grandmother always took the bottom leaf off the cabbage plant and laid it on top of the cabbage filled with wood ashes that she saved from her wood stove (you can burn a pile of wood sticks from trees by your garden if you don't have a wood stove) the night before. Early next morning she would go out and gather the leaves as they were filled with cabbage worms and she would burn the worms and leaves. I still do this and never have problems with them. She said that the stuff in the ashes that helped make he lye soap kept pests away and they always mixed the ashes from their wood stove throughout their garden to keep all other
    pests away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great tip, Gayla. Thank you so much for sharing it!

      Delete
  3. I wish cabbage grew well down here, but it's just too darn hot! I hate those cutworms!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, heat is a problem here too in the deep of summer. I hope you can figure something out, Nila.

      Delete
    2. Not sure where you are, Nila, but we're in Central Florida. Cabbage grows well in the south during the fall and winter seasons. I have gotten used to switching up my crops to accommodate the heat.

      Delete
  4. thanks so much for this information, I hope my cabbage work better with these tips! Thanks for adding this to From The Farm, this is one of this week's favorites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck, Heather, I hope it helps!

      Delete
  5. Thank you for sharing your recipe for cabbage worm spray. I'll have to pin that one for future use. So glad you are having success with a new crop. Very exciting!
    Thank you for stopping by The Maple Hill Hop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daisy, I'm enjoying this year of stretching my gardening knowledge. Thank you for your encouragement, always!

      Delete
  6. I have holes too and preparing to use some sort of flour/cayanne pepper mixture by Jerry Baker. I have only 1 cabbage, brought home from a church dinner. I will try yours once I find out where I get fish oil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the health and beauty section. Fish oil, cod liver oil, krill oil, etc.

      Delete
  7. Great success story! I loved reading this. I need gardening help so I appreciate it. I wonder if your wonder spray will get rid of something eating an ornamental sweet potato vine. Thanks for sharing this. I came over from The Art Of Homemaking. I hope you'll come over and visit me. My garden is on my apartment balcony. I happy to have tomatoes! My zuchinni is struggling! Come over and see me
    http://www.myjourneyback-thejourneyback.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting - I hope that garlic spray will help your sweet potato vine.

      Delete
  8. I love reading about organic methods of pest control, Kathi. I've always hesitated to grow cabbage because of the bugs so I really enjoyed this post. Pinned to a group board. Thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, April! The best method of all is to cover the plants with mesh while they are small, to keep the butterflies from laying their eggs in the first place. That's what I'm doing next year!

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the advice, Kathi! Also, just wanted to let you know that I'm featuring this post at the Hearth and Soul Hop this week. Thank you again for sharing it.

      Delete
    3. Thank you for featuring the post on this week's hop, April!

      Delete

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you'll leave a comment - I would love to hear from you. If you wish to email me instead, please click here. Thank you!

Please note that anonymous comments are usually deleted unread because of the high amount of spam. Instead of commenting anonymously, consider choosing the NAME/URL option - just fill in your name, leaving a URL is optional.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...