Growing Cabbage – Allotment Gardening

Growing Cabbage

cabbageBy choosing the right varieties and staggered sowing, its quite possible to have cabbage ready to harvest nearly all year round.

The crop takes up quite a large area for a lot of the year, so this calls for good crop management/rotation to have a continuous supply.

Soil preparation for Cabbages.
A well consolidated soil is required to grow cabbages,any digging and adding of rotted manure/compost that is needed should be done a few months before planting, to give the soil time to settle.
The soil should always be alkaline with a pH of 6 to 6.5, adding garden lime to the planting area will lower the acidity and help to combat club root disease if its present.

Sowing Cabbage seed.
Sow small batches of seed at monthly intervals, especially F1 varieties as these tend to mature all at the same time. Open pollinated or non F1 seeds are some what better, but you can still end up with a feast and famine situation if they are all sown at once.
Sow the seeds in a pot or small tray, germinate in a greenhouse or cold frame. Prick the young seedling in to 15 cell seed tray inserts, and grow on in a cold frame until ready to plant out at 4-6 inches high.

Planting Cabbages.
Tread down the soil and lightly rake in a general fertilizer a couple of weeks before planting.
Spacing when planting out depends on the variety and the size of cabbage that you want. As a rule of thumb, the closer together the plants, the smaller the resulting cabbage. Compact varieties need 1 foot, and larger varieties 1½ foot, between each plant.
If cabbage Root Fly is a problem consider placing collars around the plants stem, to stop the pest laying its eggs next to the plant.

General care.
Net the crop to protect from damage by rabbits, pigeons ect. Mulching around the plants with compost or straw will help conserve soil moisture and help keep the weeds down.

Harvesting cabbages.
Usually harvested as and when required, but both Red and winter white cabbage can be cut in early November and stored for use over winter, in boxes lined with straw, placed in a cool dry area, once the roots and outer leaves have been removed.

Summer Cabbage.
Sowing:   End of February to early May.
Planting:   Mid April to late June.
Harvest:   End of June to late October. 
Generally ball-headed with the exception of the varieties Greyhound and Hispi. In dry summers keep well watered as they are prone to splitting if watered after a prolonged dry spell.

Savoy Cabbage.
Sowing:   April to May.
Planting:   Middle of June to mid August.
Harvest:   September to early April. 
Very distinctive type with crisp crinkled/puckered leaves. Can produce quite large heads dosen’t strore all that well but stands really well through the winter.

Winter Cabbage.
Sowing:   April to May.
Planting:   Middle of June to end of July.
Harvest:   Mid October to March. 
Usually ball or drum-headed, green or white leaved. Most varieties stand well through the winter. The winter white cabbage can be harvested in November and stored for several months.

Spring Cabbage.
Sowing:   Beginning of July to the end of August.
Planting:   Early September to end of October.
Harvest:   March to May. 
Generally smaller than the other cabbages and conical in shape. Good small, stout plant are required at planting out time, so they are hardy enough to survive the harsh winter weather.

Red Cabbage.
Sowing:   Mid March to early May.
Planting:   End of April to late June.
Harvest:   September to end of November. 
Not widely grown, apart from the few who grow it to pickle. Does not usually stand through the winter very well, but if harvested in late autumn, can be stored quite easily over winter.

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