Cabbage

Brassica family, Brassica

Place of origin:Cretaceous coast in the southeastern area of Europe
Proper temperatures for germination:15-20℃, 59-68°F
Proper temperatures for plant growth:15-20℃, 59-68°F

Characteristics  Scientific name: Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata

Cabbage grows well in fertile land and likes a microthermal climate. When temperatures are above 25℃ (77°F), cabbage doesn’t grow well. However, it grows normally in cooler temperatures even at night. It is important to plan when the plant comes to a head by understanding when the climate will be at the proper temperatures. Also try to keep proper amount of moisture in the soil during the period when heads form. If the soil is too dry, cabbage only forms a small head. However, with excess moisture in the soil, the roots will rot. Cabbage can resist severe cold. Prior to head formation, cabbage isn’t damaged by cold temperatures down to -4 ℃ (25°F). It can for short periods of time resist temperatures of -18 ℃ (0°F). In cases where the temperature drops gradually, cabbage can even resist  temperature of -8℃ (18°F). However, when the temperature drops suddenly, cabbage can receive cold damage (especially, the outside leaves of a head). The planting period for cabbage includes spring, summer and autumn. What follows is the cultivation method for summer planting.

Planting

The range of proper temperatures for planting is narrow. 

During high summer temperatures it is possible to grow seedlings. However, it is also the most difficult time to grow seedlings throughout the year as the seedlings need to be grown with great care. When temperatures reach 30℃ (86°F ) or more, germination defects are likely to occur. To germinate seeds in such a high-temperatures, after planting and watering, cover the planting area with matting to protect the ground from high temperatures and drying out.

Growing Seedlings

After germination, remove the matting quickly and expose seedlings to the sun. 

The seedlings need to be watered after germination, and protected from strong sunlight by being covered them with a cheesecloth or some similar material. If the seedlings get rained on in the evening, the young plants are likely to suffer from damping-off. Cheesecloth is an effective way to protect them from damping-off. It takes about 35 days to grow seedlings. Since soil easily hardens from daily watering, when the seedlings are grown in nursery beds, it is good to intertill the soil.

Thinning

As seedlings grow, leaves overlap, which causes lack of sunlight. 

So, thin out the seedlings leaving wide spaces for the remaining seedlings. The seedlings for thinning are weak, thin, deformed, are suffering from disease or insects,are too large and so on. It is best to transplant and thin before leaves appear after a cotyledon. Before thinning, the bed’s soil needs to be rather dry. Generously water seedlings after thinning so that roots can stay in good condition.

Planting Seedlings Permanently

During  the midsummer it is good to transplant seedlings when 4-5 leaves appear after a cotyledon. 

In the spring and the fall, it is also good to transplant seedlings when 5-6 leaves appear after a cotyledon. Since insects often eat seedlings while they grow, grass and other weeds should be diligently removed so that the field does not become a habitat for insects.  When daytime temperatures are high, seedling should be transplanted in the morning or in the evening when it is still cool. Water seedlings thoroughly so that they can firmly root. Seedlings should not be planted too deeply, as it will delay growth.

According to crop varieties and cropping types, change the width of the ridges and the spaces between plants. Decide to make the width of ridge 45-55 centimeters (18-22 inches) and the space between plants approximately 35-40 centimeters (14-16 inches).

Management after Transplanting

In forming a head, a cabbage needs a certain number of leaves. Due to early flower bud differentiation, a head can’t be formed and early bolting occurs.

Flower Bud Differentiation

Even if seedlings grow large, southern varieties don’ t easily respond to low temperatures, but even small seedlings of northern varieties will respond to low temperatures.

Here low temperatures generally average around 14 ℃ (57°F), with the lowest  night temperature less than 10℃ (50°F). However, the temperatures for flower bud differentiation change according to varieties. With southern varieties, flower bud differentiation occurs when temperatures range between 17-18℃ (63-64°F). With northern varieties, it occurs around 7-8 ℃ (45-46°F). As temperatures also affect seed saving greatly, use this information as a reference in selecting varieties.

Harvesting

Harvest time is when heads become hard enough. 

However, it sometimes happens that plants can be damaged by remaining in the field for a long time after forming a head. Damage occurs very often when cabbages are grown during high temperatures.

Seedlings that do not grow well produce no flowers.

To make cabbage produce flowers, plants that have reached a certain size need to be exposed to low temperatures for a while. Therefore, if the conditions necessary for producing flowers are not met because of delayed planting, even though a head is formed, bolting and flowering will not occur. Adjust the planting time according to the purpose.

※According to variety of the cabbage, the number of leaves and the needed temperatures change.

By being raised steadily and exposed to coldness, the plants prepare for a floral bud even in a firm head. In some cases, as spring approaches, a seedling produces a floral bud inside. If the characteristics of forming a head are genetically maintained, seeds can be saved from plants with a firm head and from plants that produce flowers without forming a head due to when they were planted.

A New Way of Life
Why Natural Agriculture? Pure Soil, Seed and Heart Testimonial Articles Recipes
Farming & Growing
Farms and Gardens Cultivation Basics Cultivation Methods Articles about Cultivation Get Seeds Publications
Get Involved
Global Friends Message from Friends Donate Now Events Volunteer Shop Contact Us