Tips on Growing Cabbage in Raised Beds

Cabbage plants growing in a garden, with a woman's hand touching a leaf.

Myhusband would rather have a cabbage salad than one made of lettuce. Steamed cabbage, cole slaw and stuffed cabbage rolls are comfort foods from his childhood.

If you're a cabbage lover too, and want to grow cabbage in your backyard garden, here's what you need to know to grow cabbage successfully.

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Growing cabbage in raised garden beds

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 one of my raised beds.

Cabbage seedlings in a raised garden bed

It grew really well. I soon learned that cabbage plants need more than a square foot of space per plant. Cabbage plants should be planted 18"-24" apart, so they have room to grow and to form heads when mature. [Source]

cabbage seedlings in a raised garden bed
I surrounded each plant with a ring of crushed eggshells to deter slugs and cutworms.

My cabbage plants were huge and gorgeous. It seemed to take a long time for them to begin forming heads.

Cabbage seedlings

A cabbage plant

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

Organic DIY 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 jar of soapy water.

cabbage plants with insect damage on the leaves

I knew this wouldn't be enough though - or rather, it would be too much for me to keep up with the infestation without some kind of help.

So 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 or spray bottle. 

Spray liberally on the cabbage leaves and head to repel the cabbage worms. Reapply the spray after each rain.

A cabbage plant with holes in the leaves from insect damage

I had great success with this organic, DIY bug spray!

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. If I'd waited longer, the worms would have eventually eaten their way inside the cabbage heads and destroyed my crop.

A cabbage plant

Cover your plants to prevent cabbage worms

Because cabbage is harvested long before the plants flower and go to seed, there is no need for insects to pollinate the plants unless you are saving seed.

So the easiest way to prevent cabbage worms in the first place is to cover your plants as soon as your seedlings are established, or when transplant seedlings into the garden. 

Cabbage plants growing under insect netting

Use wire hoops to support the netting that covers the plants, or bend a piece of fencing into a semi-circle and set it over the plants. 

Cover this framework with insect netting, using clothespins to hold it onto the frame. This insect netting kit also contains the metal hoops to support the netting.

Sunlight will shine through the netting, and rain will flow through the holes, but the white cabbage moths can't reach your plants to lay their eggs.

Related Posts
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Freezing and Dehydrating Cabbage

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Photos of cabbage plants


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:
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