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Cabbage Growing Guide

Martha Stewart Living

Cabbage is part of the Brassicaceae family which are also called "Brassicas," "crucifers," and "cole crops". This family also includes broccoli ( Brassica oleracea, italica group), cauliflower (Brassica oleracea, botrytis group), brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea, gemmifera group), kohlrabi (Brassica olereacea, gongylodes group), kale, and collards (both Brassica oleracea). 

For more growing tips on vegetable varieties, visit our Vegetable Growing Guide.

Habit: Upright, short stemmed, head forming

Days to Harvest: 63 to 105

When to Plant: All brassicas are cold tolerant to some degree. For spring/summer cabbage harvest, start seeds indoors 6 to 9 weeks before last frost and place in the garden 1 to 3 weeks prior to last frost. For fall/winter harvest, sow seeds directly in the garden 10 to 12 weeks before first frost. 

Light: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained soil amended with compost.

Watering: Keep well watered. Mulch helps keep roots cool and moist during hot weather.

Fertilizing: Regular fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer at half strength is helpful, especially with cabbage, which is best grown quickly.

Pest Problems: Cabbage loopers and imported cabbageworms are voracious caterpillars that can make alarmingly short work of the leaves. Their color camouflages them on the plant perfectly, so you'll notice their damage before you find them. The use of floating row covers from planting time to harvest means that the adult moths cannot access plants to lay eggs; you can also spray plants with hot pepper or garlic spray, but this must be done at the appropriate time. Check with your state's extension service to find out when the pests emerge in your area. 

When to Harvest: Harvest when heads have reached full size but before they loosen. 

For complete growing instructions of each vegetable in the Brassicas family, please see our individual growing guides below. 

Cauliflower Growing Guide
Broccoli Growing Guide
Brussels Sprouts Growing Guide 
Kohlrabi Growing Guide 
Kale Growing Guide
Collards Growing Guide

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