Growing cabbage can be easy and very rewarding! Here are steps to follow to have a successful growing season, regardless of which season you choose to grow your Cabbage.
Cabbage is a cool-season crop with two growing seasons in most zones. You significantly increase your chances for a good growing season if you start your seeds inside, and then transplant them when they are ready to go outside. Cabbage needs 8 to 10 hours of sun regardless of the season it is being grown.
There are several varieties that make cabbage a good crop for containers, raised beds, and in-ground gardening. Early and midseason varieties are well suited for Earl Spring crops and midseason and storage varieties are best for fall crops.
Materials for starting Cabbage plants:
- A general-purpose potting soil
- A container to start your seeds
- Grow light or Southern facing window
- Mister bottle for watering
- Cabbage seeds of your choice
How to Start Seeds
For a summer harvest, start your seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last spring frost date for your area.
For fall harvest you can direct plant your seeds about ¼ inch deep outdoors or start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost.
A disposable salad container works well to start your seeds
Pro Tip: Prepare your soil prior to transplanting
While your seeds are growing indoors, prepare the soil with a good mixture of organic matter. This will help with aeration and moisture levels within the soil, feeding microorganisms and other critters in the soil.
How to Transplant Cabbage
- Harden off the seedlings for about a week to allow them to become acclimated to the weather. Increasing their exposure to sunlight and the outdoors by a couple of hours every day will help them transition easier.
- Cabbage plants are heavy feeders and don’t do well if there is heavy competition from grasses. Blend a well-balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) into the plant bed. Dig the hole deeper than the plant needs place fertilizer at the bottom of the hole and cover with a small layer of compost prior to placing the cabbage plants into the hole. Be sure to firm the soil around the plant well to ensure there is good dirt to root contact.
- Your plants will fare better if you can plant them on a cloudy overcast day.
- Cabbage will need up to 2 inches of water per week. Installing an irrigation system would be a good idea. To protect irrigation systems from UV exposure and freezing you should consider covering the systems with mulch or possible dirt. Plant the seedlings anywhere between 12 and 24 inches apart depending on the instructions that come with your seeds.
Early cabbage plants are planted 4 to 6 weeks prior to the last frost dates for your area.
Fall cabbage plants are planted 4 to 8 weeks prior to the first frost dates for your area.
How to Grow Cabbage
Your success is going to depend on the nutrients and moisture your plants will have available to them during the growing season. Cabbage performs best in well-drained soil with a Ph of 6 – 7.5. Cabbage plants respond well to a heavy dose of a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) at planting and an extra dose side dressed just before the cabbage begins forming a head. Cabbage needs anywhere between 1 to 1 1/2 inches of rain per week, so most locations will need to irrigate or water to keep cabbage plants hydrated and growing.
Avoid fertilizing cabbage after the heads have begun to form; adding fertilizer at this time will cause loosely formed heads.
How to Harvest Cabbage
Harvesting cabbage can begin as early as 35 days after transplanting or as late as 120 days after transplanting. These numbers will depend upon the variety of cabbage and the intended uses you have for the cabbage. Small tender loose heads are prized in stir fry and large tight heads are a necessity for successful storage of cabbage.
Harvesting can be done one of two ways:
Option 1: You can pull the entire plant with a firm grasp of the head and a slow stiff pull; a slight twist might be needed to break the root of the plant that doesn’t come with the first pull. This method will allow you to plant for another crop. Don’t forget to compost the leaves removed from the head.
Option 2: Use a sharp knife or loopers to cut the head from the plant. 2 or 3 smaller new heads will form and provide the same flavor profile as the first head.
Step 6: Things to consider when planning for Cabbage
- When do you want fresh cabbage from your garden? There are so many varieties out there that most of us can practically harvest cabbage any time we want.
- What type of soil do you have to work with? Cabbage needs a lot of water and nutrients, so soil rich in organic materials is a great beginning for a successful Cabbage harvest. Mulched leaves along with compost and a tiller can change soil properties very quickly.
- Prepare for the heat. Cabbage does best in full sun but not high heat. When full sun brings with it high heat, having a shade cover available will help the cabbage through the heat. The below image shows how we have used perennial sunflowers to provide shade as the summer progresses. The sunflowers also attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
Amazing Cabbage Recipes
Cabbage is SO versatile and adds a big dose of nutrients (without a ton of calories or carbs).You can use cabbage to make this classic Southern Fried Cabbage with Bacon for the perfect side dish or make a slaw for Instant Pot Tacos! Grill Bacon Wrapped Cabbage or have Roasted Cabbage for side dishes that take barely any effort at all.
For a healthy start to the morning, try this Keto Sausage and Cabbage Breakfast Hash! Cabbage even makes one pan meals super easy–We love this Egg Roll in a Bowl and this Bacon Cheeseburger Cabbage Casserole! For a super quick meal, consider this Air Fryer Cabbage and Sausage. When you need a healthy campfire or grill meal, these Cabbage and Sausage Foil Packs can’t be beat!
More Garden DIY Projects
The garden isn’t only great for growing produce–It’s also a great place to add new DIY projects! Here are some of my favorite DIY projects to spruce up your garden.