GoodSeed Farm > Cabbage - Get an Early Start

Cabbage - Get an Early Start



Your first rotation of cabbage should be planted right about now for summer Cole slaw.

Cabbage is a hardy vegetable that grows especially well in fertile soils. Young cabbage plants will tolerate the occasional frosty night but tend to split or burst in extreme heat. This is a good reason to plant cabbage early, setting out young plants in early April. Hardened plants are tolerant of frosts and can be planted among the earliest of cool-season garden vegetables. We take our young plants outdoors to get them accustomed to cool nights before selling them to gardeners.

Cabbage is easy to grow if you select the right varieties and protect them from pests, particularly cabbage worms. Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew is terrific for this. Pay attention to your cabbage plants; cabbage worms can destroy them in a few days if you aren’t watching.

Hot sun can make well-watered cabbage heads split open, and there are many techniques to prevent this including twisting the plant to sever the roots. Our favorite is to simply tear off some of the outer leaves and drape them over the heads like an umbrella.

Many varieties are available and if you mix them up you can count on harvesting fresh cabbage heads over a long period. There are various shades of green available, as well as red or purple types. Right now you should be thinking about summer cole slaw and planting some early cabbage. Another crop should be planted in May. Follow up in summer with big-headed late cabbage for sauerkraut.

Here are some good choices for planting right now:

Golden Acre is so called because it is so early (65-70 days) that farmers can be the first to market. This early round head cabbage is easy to grow and does well in cool weather Heads are about 6 to 7 inches in diameter on compact plants about a foot high. Its firm, medium green head has a pleasant mild flavor and is excellent raw or cooked.

Stonehead is another good early variety. This 55 day All-America Selections Winner is named for its extremely solid interior and tidy 3-4 pound size, perfect for cole slaw. It holds well in the garden.

Early Flat Dutch should be ready in 85 days. Known for its heat resistance, it is an excellent variety for sauerkraut and the best variety for storage. Early Flat Dutch heads are large and flat, weigh 6 to 10 lbs averaging 11 in. diameter with few outside leaves.

Red Acre are compact plants with short stems that produce solid, five to seven inches in diameter, round, red-purple colored heads weighing four pounds, in only 80 days. They are one of the best varieties for storage.

Later in the season, plant some Late Flat Dutch for heavy crops of broad, flat heads weighing 10 to 15 lbs in 100 days. Its low-growing heads have a short core and excellent wrapper leaves. This variety likes cool, wet weather, and is a very good keeper.

Ever wonder how cole slaw got its name? According to Wikipedia, the Dutch words “koolsla” or "koolsalade" ("kool" in Dutch sounds somewhat like "cole") were Americanized during the 1800’s. Both words mean “cabbage salad” in Dutch.