Cabbage winter Brassica olearacea capitata Rotation group – Brassicas
Winter cabbages form an important part of the winter supply of fresh greens. They are hardy enough to take most of what the winter weather may throw at them. The Savoy cabbages are considered to be the hardiest of all of the winter cabbages and they are a good choice for growing on poor soils. Like most of the other winter vegetables the winter cabbages require a long growing season and have to be sown in the late spring and early summer.
Varieties to choose (sold by Kings): -
All of the winter cabbages are grown from seed that is sown during May to June. The seed is sown in short drills during May/ June. The drills are made ½ /12mms deep leaving 9ins/20cms between rows and the rows need to be long enough to supply enough plants to meet your needs. The seedlings have to be thinned to 3ins/7.5 cms apart in the row removing any young plants with crooked stems because they will never make good cabbages. Water the young seedlings regularly never letting the soil dry out and add some liquid seaweed to the water to encourage healthy growth.
The seed can be sown in small pots or trays filled with fresh seed compost. They don’t require any artificial heat to germinate. When the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be pricked out into 3 ½ ins/9cms pots filled with fresh potting compost. Allow them to grow on until they have produced 3 pairs of leaves at which stage they are ready for transplanting into the open ground.
When the young plants have produced 3pairs of leaves they are ready for transplanting to their final positions. Choose a cool spell of weather to carry out the operation and water along the rows of young plants the night before to lessen the transplant shock to the young plants. Take care to lift the plants to keep as much of the root-ball intact as possible. It may be easier to use a small spade or trowel to do this job.
Transplant the young cabbages 18ins/45cms apart in the row with 18ins/45cm between each row. Firm the soil around each plant and water the plants well to settle them in. They may need some protection against strong sunshine or drying winds for the first couple of weeks after being transplanted.
Hoe the soil between the plants regularly to keep it weed free and to create dust mulch. Make sure that the soil around the roots never dries out and occasionally add liquid seaweed to the water especially in dry periods to keep the plants growing and healthy. As the season goes on draw soil up around the stalks of the plants to give them extra support.
Harvest according to the season of use. When the hearts feel firm they are ready don’t leave them hanging around too long otherwise the heads will split open. This is why it is important to only grow enough to meet you requirements. The F1 Hybrids selections will all be ready to harvest at the same time but the older open pollinated cabbages will become ready over a couple of weeks. After you have cut the head off the stalk there is a chance that smaller clusters of loose leaf mini will regrow. These are perfectly usable but if by the end of winter they can be dug up and replanted in a group somewhere cool and shady to be used as required.
Cabbage root fly is a problem early in the season. Use 6ins/15cm square collars placed around the neck of the plants to defeat the female fly’s eggs.
Cabbage white butterfly is also a major problem. It can be controlled by regularly inspecting the cabbages and crushing the clusters of yellow eggs between finger and thumb. It is possible to use small mesh netting but it can make working between the plants difficult. The best control for cabbage white butterflies is Bacillus thuringiensis which is available through companies that specialise in the biological control of pests.
Winter cabbages don’t seem to be troubled by club root