Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable that can be grown as a spring crop in DeKalb County; it is a good source of calcium, riboflavin, dietary fiber, vitamins A and C.
Cabbage is a cool season plant, although it can be direct seeded, transplanting is the best method of production. Varieties of cabbage can differ in terms of head size, density, shape, color, leaf texture and maturity. Variety selection also depends upon the plant’s tolerance to bolting. Bolting is the process in which the plant switches from heading to the formation of flowers and seeds. Choose a variety that indicates it is suited for growing in the spring, thus reducing the risk of bolting. Some cabbage varieties recommended for DeKalb County include Round Dutch, Stonehead, King Cole and Charleston Wakefield.
Prepare the land early so that previous crop residue is fully decomposed before transplanting. For a spring crop, transplant in February and March. A well-drained sandy loam soil with good organic content is preferred. Soil should be slightly acid with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. In the absence of a soil test, apply six to eight pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer plus five tablespoons of Borax (boron) per 100 feet of row at the time of transplanting. A boron deficiency can cause a condition called hollow heart in cabbage. The center becomes cracked and brown as the cabbage head matures.
Avoid planting cabbage in areas of the garden where broccoli, collards, kale, mustard, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips and cabbage were grown within the last three years. This will reduce potential soil-borne diseases and nematode problems.
Cabbage should be planted in rows 36 to 42 inches apart with 12 to 15 inches between plants in the row. This plant spacing will produce heads that range from two to three pounds. If larger heads are desired, increase the spacing between plants within a row. Three weeks after transplanting, it may be necessary to Sidedress with four cups of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 feet of row. Then from this point, three weeks later apply a side dressing of nitrogen at a rate of three-fourths pounds per 100 feet of row. Cabbage has a high nitrogen requirement early in its growth.
Spraying with Bacillus thuringiensis will control all caterpillars or worms and aphids can be kept in check by using insecticidal soap spray, all other insects can be controlled by using Sevin insecticide.
Harvest cabbage when it reaches adequate size, two to two and a half pounds, depending on variety. Cool to 40 degrees Fahrenheit before storing. This will increase shelf life and reduce rot diseases. In cold storage, cabbage can be stored at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
I hope this information on growing cabbage will be useful.
Terry Shackelford is a regional extension agent in DeKalb County. His column appears Tuesdays in the Times-Journal.