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Growing Cabbage

Nutritious Greens, Straight from Your Backyard

Subspecies: Brassica oleracea var. capitata

Growing cabbageCabbage is the most well-known and one of the most versatile members of the cole family. It is used in cuisines around the world and is also known for its medicinal properties in some cultures.

It is easy to grow and prolific, generating a large yield with a small investment of time. Growing cabbage can therefore be a great, easy addition to a vegetable garden.

Read on for our guide on how to grow cabbage in your own garden.


Cabbage seeds need to be planted at a depth of 1/4 – 1/2 inch. There should be 15 – 18 inches between seedlings and 32 – 36 inches between rows. Seeds can be placed in the ground as soon as the soil is workable.

Cabbage seeds can be planted until mid-June for harvesting throughout the summer. Soil needs to be around 70° – 80°F for germination to occur within 7 days. However, the seeds will germinate at a lower rate, and more slowly, in soil temperatures all the way down to 40°F.

If using transplants, start seed in April and transplant within 5 – 6 weeks. Use a basic all-purpose fertilizer, making sure to cover the root-ball, before putting transplants in the ground.

Cabbage roots are close to the soil surface and the ground should not be hand or tool cultivated. Use mulch to prevent weeds from growing.

Cabbage is sensitive to sudden downpours after dry-spells, so heads that are large enough, should be harvested before heavy rains, if it has not rained for over a week. Otherwise cabbage heads may ‘split’ from the sudden overload of water.


Green cabbage is more common than red cabbage varieties, although red cabbages are readily available and becoming more popular at farmers’ markets and in restaurant use.

Savoy, curly or crinkle leaved, varieties are best for use in cole-slaw and salads. If cabbage will be prepared and stored as sauerkraut, choose a green or white variety with a longer time to maturity.

Copenhagen Market Early is a reliable early variety.

Garden Leader Green Monster produces large heads and is a good choice for sauerkraut.


Remove cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage. Row covers need to be removed from the plant rows once summer temperatures are consistently above 78°F.

A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done before the sun is directly overhead so plants will not be scorched.

If cabbage Root Maggots are present the plants will show wilting and may eventually die. Plants should be cleaned and transplanted.

Diatomaceous earth can be used to control flea beetles.

Cutworms can be controlled by placing cardboard rings around the plants and sinking the rings a few inches into the soil.

Home Storage:

Cabbage may be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 weeks.  The heads can be stored in a root cellar for up to 3 months.

Cabbage can be preserved by making sauerkraut. Properly canned sauerkraut will last through the winter if stored away from sunlight.