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. And sauerkraut, although he's only had that from a can. (Making it myself is on my grand list of goals.)

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 one of my raised beds.


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.

My flock of chickens share the garden waste with my compost pile. They were thrilled to get the tough outer leaves of holey cabbage and if there were any little green worms on them, the hens slurped them down like candy.


Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage takes approximately 70 days to harvest. Next year I'm planning to cover the plants with screen as soon as I plant them to hopefully thwart the cabbage moths from laying their eggs. I'll keep you posted.


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


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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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