Growing Your Own Cabbage: A Beginner’s Guide

Cabbage in a box

Why Growing Your Own Cabbage

Growing your own cabbage can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Not only does it provide you with a delicious and nutritious vegetable, but it also offers a range of other benefits.

One of the biggest advantages of growing cabbage yourself is that you have complete control over the growing process. You can choose which varieties to plant, what type of soil to use, and what type of fertilizer to apply. This level of control allows you to grow the best cabbage possible, with optimal flavor, texture, and nutritional value.

Another benefit of growing your own vegetables is the savings it can offer. Cabbage is a relatively inexpensive vegetable, but the costs can add up over time if you buy it frequently at the store. By growing your own, you can save money and enjoy a fresh, high-quality product that you know has been grown without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals.

In addition to the economic benefits, growing cabbage can also be good for your health. It is rich in vitamins C and K, as well as fiber, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Eating fresh, homegrown cabbage can help boost your immune system and promote overall health and well-being.

There’s also the satisfaction of growing your own food. It’s a fulfilling experience to watch the cabbage grow from a tiny seedling to a mature plant that produces a bountiful harvest. And knowing that you played a part in producing your own food can be a source of pride and accomplishment.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a beginner, growing cabbage is a fun and rewarding activity that offers a range of benefits. From the control you have over the growing process to the health benefits and cost savings, there are many reasons to start growing your own cabbage today.

Choosing the Right Cabbage Variety for Your Garden

Choosing the right variety is crucial for a successful harvest. There are many different types of cabbage, each with its own unique characteristics and growing requirements. Some varieties are better suited for certain climates or growing conditions than others, while some are more disease-resistant or have a longer shelf life.

When selecting a variety for your garden, consider your climate and the length of your growing season. Some varieties are better suited for cooler temperatures, while others can tolerate heat. For example, the Savoy cabbage is a good choice for cooler climates, while the Chinese cabbage is better suited for warmer regions.

You should also consider the size of the head that the cabbage produces. Some varieties, such as the Miniature and Early Jersey Wakefield, produce smaller heads that are ideal for small gardens or container planting. Others, such as the Copenhagen Market and Late Flat Dutch, produce larger heads that are better suited for larger gardens.

Another important factor to consider is disease resistance. Certain varieties, such as the Stonehead and Bravo, are more resistant to common diseases like black rot and fusarium yellows. This can help to reduce the need for chemical treatments and make for a healthier garden overall.

Finally, consider the flavor and texture of the cabbage you want to grow. Some varieties, such as the Napa cabbage, have a mild and slightly sweet flavor that is great for salads and stir-fries. Others, like the Red Express, have a more robust and peppery flavor that is great for sautéing or roasting.

In summary, when choosing a cabbage variety for your garden, consider your climate, the size of your garden, disease resistance, and the flavor and texture of the cabbage. With the right variety, you can enjoy a bountiful and delicious harvest.

Preparing Your Garden for Cabbage: Soil, Sunlight, and Spacing

Cabbage is a popular vegetable that can be grown in a variety of climates. However, to ensure a successful harvest, it is important to prepare your garden properly. In this chapter, we will discuss the three key factors to consider when preparing your garden for cabbage: soil, sunlight, and spacing.


Cabbage thrives in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. Before planting, test your soil to determine its pH level and amend it accordingly. If your soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH level. If it is too alkaline, add sulfur to lower the pH level.

In addition to pH, it also requires soil that is rich in organic matter. To improve soil quality, add compost or well-rotted manure to your garden bed. This will help to retain moisture, improve soil structure, and provide essential nutrients for your plants.


Cabbage is a cool-season crop that requires full sun to grow properly. Choose a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you live in a hot climate, consider planting it in a spot that receives partial shade during the hottest part of the day.


Proper spacing is essential for healthy cabbage plants. It requires at least 18 inches (45 cm) of space between plants to allow for adequate air circulation and to prevent the spread of disease. Rows should be spaced at least 2 feet (60 cm) apart to allow for easy access and maintenance.

Preparing your garden for cabbage requires attention to soil, sunlight, and spacing. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a successful harvest of this nutritious and delicious vegetable.

Planting Cabbage: Tips and Techniques for Getting Started

Now that you have prepared your garden for planting, it is time to start your cabbage seeds. Before you begin, it is important to note that cabbage is a cool-weather crop and does not do well in hot temperatures. Therefore, it is best to plant it in early spring or late summer.

To start, prepare a seed bed by raking the soil to create a level surface. Sow the seeds about ¼ to ½ inch (0.6 to 1.3 cm) deep and space them about 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) apart. After planting, gently water the soil to keep it moist.

If you prefer to start your seeds indoors, sow them in seedling trays or pots 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost. Once the seedlings have grown to about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) tall, they can be transplanted to your garden bed.

When transplanting, make sure to plant them in a hole deep enough to cover the entire stem, up to the first set of leaves. This will help develop a strong root system. After planting, water the soil thoroughly.

It is important to keep your plants consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching can help retain moisture in the soil and keep the roots cool during hot weather. Be sure to weed your garden regularly, as weeds can compete with your cabbage plants for nutrients.

With these tips and techniques, you should be well on your way to growing healthy and delicious cabbage.

Watering and Fertilizing Your Cabbage Plants

Proper watering and fertilization are crucial to the success of your cabbage plants. Here are some tips and techniques to help you keep your plants healthy and thriving.


Cabbage plants require consistent moisture to grow well. However, it is important not to overwater them, as this can lead to root rot and other diseases. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged.

One way to achieve this is by using a drip irrigation system, which delivers water directly to the roots of the plants. Another option is to water deeply once a week, rather than shallowly and frequently, as this encourages the roots to grow deeper and better absorb nutrients.


Cabbage plants are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization to produce large heads. A balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is ideal.

Before planting, incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil. Then, every few weeks, apply a liquid fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Be sure not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to an excess of nitrogen and poor head formation. Also, avoid getting fertilizer on the leaves of the plant, as this can burn them.

By following these watering and fertilizing tips, you can ensure your cabbage plants are healthy and productive.

Controlling Pests and Diseases in Your Cabbage Garden

Cabbage is a hardy and nutritious vegetable that can be a great addition to any garden. However, like any other plant, it is susceptible to pests and diseases that can harm its growth and yield. In this chapter, we will discuss some common pests and diseases that can affect the plants and how to control them.


Cabbage Worms: These green caterpillars can quickly defoliate your plants, leaving them weak and vulnerable. You can control them by applying Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a natural bacteria that specifically targets cabbage worms. You can also handpick them off your plants or use row covers to prevent them from laying their eggs on your plants.

Aphids: These tiny insects can suck the sap out of the cabbage plants, causing them to wilt and stunt their growth. You can control them by spraying your plants with insecticidal soap or neem oil, which suffocates them.

Flea Beetles: These small, shiny black beetles can make numerous small holes in the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and die. You can control them by using row covers or by applying a layer of diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants.


Clubroot: This soil-borne disease can cause cabbage plants to develop swollen roots, turn yellow, and wilt. You can prevent it by avoiding planting them in infected soil and by keeping the soil pH around 7.0.

Black Rot: This bacterial disease can cause the cabbage plants to develop yellow V-shaped lesions on their leaves, which can eventually lead to their death. You can control it by removing infected plants immediately, rotating your crops, and avoiding overhead watering.

Downy Mildew: This fungal disease can cause the plants to develop yellow spots on their leaves, which can eventually turn brown and die. You can control it by avoiding overhead watering, improving air circulation around your plants, and applying copper fungicides.

By keeping a close eye on your cabbage plants and taking preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of pests and diseases damaging your crop. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of damage or disease, and act quickly to control them before they spread. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of healthy and delicious cabbage from your garden.

Harvesting Cabbage: When and How to Pick Your Crop

Cabbage is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Knowing when and how to harvest is important to ensure that it is at peak flavor and nutrition. In this chapter, we will discuss when to harvest your cabbage, how to pick it, and how to store it properly.

When to Harvest Cabbage

The timing of your cabbage harvest will depend on the variety you have planted and the weather conditions in your area. Generally, cabbage is ready to harvest when the heads are firm and have reached their full size. This usually takes around 70-100 days from planting, but it can vary depending on the variety and growing conditions.

To determine if the cabbage is ready to harvest, gently squeeze the head. If it feels firm and solid, it is ready to pick. If it feels soft or spongy, it needs more time to mature. Additionally, you can check the outer leaves for signs of yellowing or wilting. If the outer leaves are starting to wilt, it is a sign that the cabbage is ready to harvest.

How to Pick Cabbage

To harvest cabbage, use a sharp knife to cut the head off at the base of the plant. Be careful not to damage the surrounding leaves or the roots of the plant. If you plan on harvesting multiple heads, leave the outer leaves and the roots intact to help protect the remaining heads.

After you have harvested the plants, remove any damaged or wilted leaves and rinse the head under cool water. Allow the cabbage to dry before storing it.

How to Store Cabbage

Cabbage can be stored in a variety of ways, depending on how you plan to use it. For short-term storage, place it in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. This will help keep the cabbage fresh for up to two weeks.

For longer-term storage, cabbage can be frozen or fermented. To freeze, blanch the leaves in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then cool them in ice water before draining and placing them in airtight containers. Frozen cabbage can be stored for up to 12 months.

To ferment cabbage, such as for sauerkraut or kimchi, shred it and pack it tightly into a jar with salt and other seasonings. Cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid and allow it to ferment at room temperature for several days to several weeks, depending on the desired level of sourness. Fermented cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.

By following these tips for harvesting and storing your cabbage, you can enjoy the benefits of your garden-fresh produce throughout the year.

Storing and Preserving Your Cabbage Harvest

Once you’ve harvested cabbage, it’s important to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh as long as possible. There are several methods you can use to store cabbage, including refrigeration, freezing, pickling, and fermentation.

Refrigeration is the simplest method for storing cabbage. Place the heads in a plastic bag or wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Cabbage stored this way can last for up to two weeks. Be sure to remove any wilted or damaged outer leaves before storing, as these can cause it to spoil more quickly.

Freezing cabbage is another option for longer-term storage. First, blanch the cabbage in boiling water for two to three minutes, then quickly cool it in ice water. Once cooled, chop it into small pieces or leave it in larger wedges, and then store it in airtight containers or freezer bags. Frozen cabbage can last up to 10 to 12 months.

Pickling and fermentation are two traditional methods for preserving cabbage. To pickle cabbage, slice it thinly and pack it tightly in jars with a mixture of vinegar, water, sugar, and spices. Fermented cabbage, also known as sauerkraut, is made by shredding and packing it tightly in a jar or crock with salt. The salt draws out the cabbage’s natural juices, which then ferment to create a tangy, sour flavor. Both pickled and fermented cabbage can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to handle cabbage carefully and store it in a cool, dry place. Excess moisture or heat can cause it to spoil more quickly. Properly stored cabbage can last for several weeks to several months, allowing you to enjoy your harvest long after the growing season has ended.

Creative Ways to Cook and Enjoy Cabbage

Cabbage is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed in many different ways. From simple preparations like coleslaw to more complex dishes like stuffed cabbage rolls, there are endless possibilities for cooking and enjoying cabbage. Here are some creative ideas to inspire you:

Roasted Cabbage Wedges

Roasting cabbage brings out its natural sweetness and creates a delicious caramelized crust. To make roasted cabbage wedges, simply cut a head of cabbage into 1-inch thick wedges, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 400°F (200°C) for 25-30 minutes, until tender and golden brown.

Cabbage Soup

Cabbage soup is a comforting and healthy meal that’s perfect for a cold winter day. To make cabbage soup, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add chopped cabbage, carrots, and celery, and cover with vegetable or chicken broth. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, and season with salt, pepper, and herbs like thyme or bay leaves.

Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls are a classic Eastern European dish that’s hearty and delicious. To make cabbage rolls, blanch cabbage leaves in boiling water until soft, and fill them with a mixture of ground meat, rice, onions, and herbs. Roll the cabbage leaves tightly around the filling, and bake in a tomato-based sauce for 45-60 minutes, until cooked through.

Cabbage Chips

Cabbage chips are a healthy and crunchy snack that’s easy to make at home. Simply cut a head of cabbage into thin slices, toss with olive oil and spices like paprika or garlic powder, and bake in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 10-15 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.

Cabbage Stir-Fry

Cabbage stir-fry is a quick and easy meal that’s perfect for busy weeknights. To make cabbage stir-fry, sauté thinly sliced cabbage and carrots in a wok or large skillet with garlic and ginger, and add your choice of protein like tofu or chicken. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes for a flavorful and satisfying meal.

Cabbage Roll Soup

Combine ground beef, cooked rice, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and cabbage leaves in a pot. Simmer until the cabbage is tender and the flavors have melded together. Serve with crusty bread for a comforting meal.

Cabbage and Carrot Slaw with Peanut Dressing

Shred cabbage and carrots and toss with a dressing made of peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and ginger. Top with chopped peanuts and cilantro for a crunchy and flavorful salad.

Cabbage and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Slice cabbage and mushrooms and stir-fry in a wok or large skillet with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Serve over rice or noodles for a quick and satisfying meal.

Cabbage and Apple Salad with Maple Dressing

Shred cabbage and slice apples and toss together with a dressing made of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Top with toasted walnuts for added crunch.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin

Thinly slice cabbage and potatoes and layer in a baking dish with grated cheese, cream, garlic, and thyme. Bake in the oven until bubbly and golden brown for a hearty and comforting side dish.

These are just a few creative ways to cook and enjoy cabbage. Experiment with different recipes and techniques to discover your own favorite cabbage dishes!

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Growing Cabbage

Growing cabbage can be a rewarding experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most common issues you may encounter when growing cabbage, and offer tips for troubleshooting and resolving them.


Cabbage is a favorite target of many pests, including aphids, cabbage loopers, and flea beetles. These pests can cause damage to the leaves, stunting growth and reducing yield. To prevent and control pests, try using insecticidal soap, neem oil, or diatomaceous earth. You can also attract natural predators, like ladybugs and lacewings, to your garden by planting flowers like marigolds and daisies.


Cabbage is susceptible to several diseases, including clubroot, black rot, and Fusarium yellows. These diseases can cause wilting, yellowing leaves, and stunted growth. To prevent disease, rotate your crops, plant disease-resistant varieties, and avoid planting in areas where cabbage has been grown in the past. If disease does occur, remove infected plants and dispose of them to prevent further spread.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Cabbage requires a balance of nutrients to grow properly, and deficiencies can cause a variety of issues. Yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and poor flavor are all signs of nutrient deficiencies. To address this, ensure your soil is properly amended with organic matter and fertilizer, and consider using foliar sprays to provide additional nutrients.


Cabbage requires consistent moisture to grow properly, but overwatering or underwatering can cause issues. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases, while underwatering can cause stunted growth and wilting. To prevent these issues, ensure your soil is well-draining and water consistently, but avoid overwatering.

Temperature Extremes

Cabbage prefers cool temperatures, and extreme heat or cold can cause issues. In hot weather, cabbage may bolt, or go to seed prematurely. In cold weather, it may experience stunted growth or develop a bitter flavor. To prevent these issues, plant cabbage in the appropriate season and provide shade or cover in extreme heat or cold.

By following these tips and troubleshooting common issues, you can ensure a successful cabbage harvest and a bountiful garden. Remember, growing cabbage is a learning experience, and don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.

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