One of Martha's favorite sections of her vegetable garden is the area devoted to brassicas, or crucifers, a family which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collards. Not only are these among the most nutritious of vegetables, but they can grow to impressive proportions. Cabbage, in particular, is very easy to grow and can yield very large heads. One of the most lasting impressions of Martha's December 1996 trip to Egypt was the sight of huge cabbages surrounded by their even larger leaves.
Planting Cabbages and Greens
Plant cabbage seedlings in spring in a loamy soil with a pH level of about 6.4. The soil should be moist and thoroughly tilled. Prepare it with generous amounts of organic matter, including manure and compost. Dig a hole for each seedling, and create a saucer or lip of soil around the base of the plant to facilitate watering.
When the seedlings are still young, they may be vulnerable to rabbits, hungry worms, and other creatures attracted to tender plants. Martha makes a shield for each seedling from a clear plastic cup, but a paper cup or milk carton can also be used. Cut the container down the side, then cut out the bottom, and wrap it around the plant, bringing the leaves up and over the lip. Leave the shield in place only until the seedling have established themselves and begun to fill out.