How to Grow Spring Cabbage


It is possible to have fresh cabbage from the garden all through the year. Traditionally, spring cabbage (spring greens) spanned the gap from March to Ma between the last of the hardy winter varieties and the first of the summer cabbages. You can also grow and crop modern non-hearting cabbages for most of the year, as a space-saving alternative to the hearting summer and winter varieties. In the garden, spring cabbage is a useful way of keeping the ground occupied after the summer crops are harvested, until the next round of spring sowings. Spring cabbage grows well in containers and can be picked over through the winter if grown under cover.

Calendar

July

If you live in the north of the UK, this is the best time to sow. You can start the seed off in pots if you want only a few plants.

Sow one seed per 7-cm pot or in a modular seed tray. Keep these somewhere cool and shady until the seedlings appear, and water frequently.

Sowing in a seedbed is easier for raising lots of plants. Work in a balanced fertilizer or well-rotted manure, especially if the spring cabbage follows an earlier crop. Give the area a thorough soaking if the soil is dry and prepare the seedbed a few days later.

In a seedbed sow into drills 2cm deep and 15cm apart. Sow thinly, aiming for a plant every 5cm or so. Do not forget to water the bottom of the drill thoroughly before you sow at this time of year. Sow in early evening, so that the seeds germinate quickly in moist soil. Water frequently until the plants are well established.

Cover with fine mesh netting to keep cabbage whites off the young plants – it may become too warm under garden fleece.

August

Sow (as above) by the middle of the month if you live in the south.

September

Plant out in the north of the country and colder areas. Space rows 30cm apart and plants every 15cm. This allows for three out of four plants to be picked as greens and the fourth left to heart up. In pots, plant four plants to a 30-cm diameter pot. Spring cabbages are not the most ornamental vegetables, but if you have bare soil in borders, plant them in clumps of about five to a 30-cm square.

October

Plant out in southern and milder areas.

November-January

The plants should be large enough to survive the winter. In particularly cold areas, covering with cloches will help to give an earlier crop. Cover the crop with netting if pigeons or rabbits are a problem. If you have space in the greenhouse or cold frame, make a late sowing in 30-cm pots for a crop of young leaves through the winter. Thin to about nine plants, pulling whole plants or individual leaves, until one is left to heart up in spring.

February

Apply a light dressing of a high-nitrogen fertilizer (e.g. nitrochalk or dried blood) as the plants start into growth.

March-May

Start cutting alternate plants for spring greens as soon as they are large enough. Given enough space, most varieties will produce firm hearts by late April or May. You can get a bonus crop of greens six weeks later by cutting a cross in the top of the stump after cutting off the head.

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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