By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Cabbage is a cool-weather crop. Grow cabbage in spring so that it comes to harvest before the summer heat or start cabbage in mid to late summer so that it comes to harvest during the cool days of winter.
Where To Grow Cabbage
- Grow cabbage in soil rich in organic matter that is well-drained. Prepare the planting beds ahead of planting by covering beds with 2 to 3 inches (5-7cm) of aged compost or commercial organic planting mix and turning it under to 12 inches (30cm) deep.
- Cabbage grows best where the soil pH is between 6.5 and 6.8.
- If clubroot disease has been a problem, adjust the soil pH to 7.0 or slightly higher by adding lime.
- Add plenty of well-aged compost to planting beds before planting. In regions where the soil is sandy or where there is heavy rain, supplement the soil with nitrogen.
- Adding a moderate amount of nitrogen-rich blood meal or cottonseed meal to the soil ahead of planting will enhance leafy growth.
Cabbage Planting Time
- Cabbage grows best in regions where there is a long, cool growing season with temperatures between 45° and 75°F (7-24°C).
- Cabbage can tolerate frost and briefly temperatures as low as 20°F (-6.70°C).
- Cabbage will bolt and go to seed in temperatures greater than 80°F (26°C).
- Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- Sow seed outdoors when the soil can be worked in spring.
- Place transplants in the garden when they are 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) tall as early as 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- In cool-summer regions, plant cabbage in late spring for a fall harvest.
- In mild-winter regions, start seed in late summer—about 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost–for a winter or spring harvest.
- Cabbage comes to harvest in 80 to 180 days from seed and in 60 to 105 days from transplants depending upon the variety.
Cabbage Planting & Spacing
- Sow cabbage seeds a ½ inch deep spaced 1 inch (2.5cm) apart; thin plants to 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) apart.
- Transplant cabbage to the garden when plants are 4 to 6 weeks old with 4 to 5 true leaves.
- Set leggy or crooked stemmed plants deeply; you can bury 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5cm) of the main stem even up to just below the top two sets of leaves.
- Space seedlings 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) apart in rows 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) apart. You can space plants closer but the heads will be smaller at maturity.
- In early spring plant cabbage through black plastic or garden fabric set in place to warm the soil. Cut an x in the fabric to set out transplants.
- Plant succession crops every two weeks or plant seeds and transplants at the same time or plant early and midseason varieties at the same time so that they come to harvest at different times.
- Plant 4 to 8 cabbage plants for each household member.
- Cabbage will be ready for harvest in 80 to 180 days from seed depending on the variety or in 60 to 105 days from transplanting.
- Cut cabbage when heads are firm and the base of the head is 4 to 10 inches (10-25cm) across.
- Harvest before the weather becomes too warm in spring. Cabbage will be sweet if harvested in cool weather.
- Cabbage for fall or winter harvest can sit under a blanket of snow without harm. Simply pull away from the spoiled outer leaves after harvest.
- If you want additional heads from the same plant, cut the head at the center of the stem but leaves several leaves attached to the stem stump. Small heads—about the size of a baseball–will grow from the stalks for later harvest.