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Brassica oleracea

Sustainable Ewe favourites:

Copenhagen Market,

Quick Reference

Optimum Soil Temperature 10-25°
Days to Germination 6-10 days
Days to Harvest 65-75 days from transplant (50 days – mini cabbage)
Direct Sow or Transplant Transplant
Distance Apart 45-60cm (30cm – mini cabbage)
Soil pH 6,0-7,5
Annual/Biennial /Perennial  Biennial


The humble cabbage has been used since 4000BC, originating in the East.  It was domesticated in Europe 3000 years ago.  The first round headed cabbage appeared in England around the 14th century.  It was taken to America by Jacques Cartier on his third voyage 1541-1542

Cabbage comes in many colours including green, red, white, and purple.  The savoy cabbage has a milder taste than other varieties.


Cabbages are a cool temperature crop.  Anything about 25°C and the plants are likely to bolt to seed.  Can handle full sun or partial shade.

Start seedlings out in trays and transplant out when the plants have four true leaves

Keep soil moist, but not too wet and mulch well.  Seedlings will bolt if they dry out in early stages.

Some varieties of cabbage will resprout after the head has been cut.

Storing harvested cabbage:  Store well in a root cellar situation, or in the fridge for 2 weeks.  Can be frozen (good flavour) or dried (fair flavour), does not can well.

Seed Saving:  Insect pollinated.  Will cross pollinate with all other brassicas.  Requires 1km exclusion from other plants.  40 plants required for genetic diversity.

Seed Life:  Five years


Feeding:  Cabbages are heavy feeders.  Fertilise three weeks after transplant.

Remove any outer dead leaves

Fun Facts

The heaviest cabbage was grown in 2012 by Scott Robb in Alaska, USA.  It weighed 62.71kg.  The heaviest red cabbage was grown in 2016 by David Thomas of Malvern, UK.  It weighted 23.2kg

In Hebrew the term “rosh kruv” (cabbage head) is used as an insult and implies stupidity.

Red cabbage makes and excellent dye for food or fabric.

In the United States of America February 17th is National Cabbage Day

Cabbage can be pickled, fermented (sauerkraut), steamed, stewed, sauteed, braised or eaten raw.  Raw, steaming or stir-frying preserves nutrients better than other cooking methods.

There are 24 calories in 100 grams of cabbage.

It is an excellent source of Vitamins B1, B6, C, and K as well as potassium, manganese, folate and copper.  And a good source of B2, choline, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, selenium, and iron.

Russia has the highest annual per capita consumption of cabbage (20kg).  Followed by Belgium (4.7kg).  Then Netherlands (4kg)


Downy Mildew – pale spots or blotches on leaves. Possible mildew on underside of the leaves.  Space plants to allow for good air circulation.  Weed.

Potassium Deficiency – scorching or burning on leaf margins.  Poor quality hearts.

Magnesium Deficiency – yellowing between veins on older leaves.  Add fertiliser.

Molybdenum Deficiency – leaves thin and strap-like, poor growth.  Add fertiliser.

Boron Deficiency – hollow stems.  Add fertiliser

Cabbage Ring Spot – circular infections on the lower outer leaves.  Leaf drop.  Remove and destroy infected plants.  Crop rotation.

Heartless Cabbage – Soil too loose.  Drought.  Not enough compost

Split-headed Cabbage – Rain after a dry period.  Heavy frost.  Use frost cloth.  Water regularly.

Bolting/Running to seed prematurely – cold weather followed by hot weather.  Root exposure

Club Root – plants stunted, deformed roots.  Add lime to soil.  Destroy diseased plants.  Ensure good drainage.  Crop rotation.


White Butterfly/Diamond Backed Moth – holes in vegetation in late spring, summer, autumn.  Protect young plants with insect mesh

Aphids – small insects clustered in developing heart or crown.  Keep plants well watered in dry weather

Slugs and snails – holes in leaves or stems in winter.  Digital removal (pick the bugs off), coffee grounds, ground egg shells said to be a deterrent.

Whitefly – underside of leaves covered with tiny white insects that will fly when disturbed.

Cover your garden with insect netting to avoid having your plants become a meal for caterpillars and bugs.  There are a variety of sprays and solutions (both organic and non-organic) such as Derris Dust or Quash available to combat such pests.

Companion Planting

Beans, Broad Beans, Bush Beans, Climbing Beans, Beets, Borage, Celery, Coriander, Cucumber, Dill, Marigold, Lavender, Lettuce, Marjoram, Mint, Nasturtium, Onions, Potato, Rosemary, Sage, Tansy, Thyme

NEVER Garlic, Rue. Strawberry