Growing and Saving the Seed Of Cabbage
Cabbage is a relatively easy-to-grow crop that can handle cold temperatures and has a long storage life.
Wild cabbage ancestors hail from the Mediterranean and spread to southern and northern parts of Europe. Southern Europeans selected for heat-tolerant, loose-leafed varieties closer to what we today call collards and kale. Northern Europeans selected for a single large, tight head, much more adapted to withstand cold than hot weather. Now there are particular varieties of cabbage that grow well throughout the season in a range of climates.
Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds ¼ inch deep. Seeds germinate in 7-10 days. Ideal germination temperature is 50-75 F.
Before planting outdoors, set seedlings outside for two weeks to harden off.
If you have mild winters, seed overwintering varieties in June or early July for a late July/early August planting and fall/winter harvest.
- Cabbage is a cool weather loving biennial.
- Amend beds with well-composted manure,
- Space plants 18-20 inches apart, depending on the variety.
- Cabbage prefers consistent watering. In the heat of summer, overhead watering can be used to cool the cabbage and prevent bolting.
- Row cover can be helpful to keep long-season varieties from freezing in the early winter.
- Heads are ripe when firm, and when properly stored, they will keep for several months.
- Cabbage worms are a major pest of the cabbage family. The moths will lay their eggs, and then small green worms will eat the leaves, as well as burrowing through the head of the cabbage.
- Crop rotation and using row cover at the time of transplant will protect plants. You can also apply BTK (Bacillius Thurengiensis var. Kurstaki) a naturally occurring bacteria as a spray every 1-2 weeks.
- Releasing beneficial wasps in the garden also helps to keep the population down.
- Interplant thyme or onions with your plants; cabbage worms hate the smell!
Saving sunflower seeds is very easy!
- Isolate plants from other members of the cabbage species (kale, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower) by up to one mile to avoid cross pollination.
- Cabbage is biennial, blooming only after experiencing a winter's chill, and will require overwintering with heavy mulch and row cover in cool winter areas.
- For those with very harsh winters, consider digging up and placing in a root cellar until hard frost has passed.
- In the second season, when flowers have passed and seed pods have dried, dig up the plants and hang upside down to dry.
- Dried pods can be placed in a sack and crushed to release seeds.
- Place seeds in a glass jar and refrigerate for up to 5 years.