Sowing: The seeds of these traditional allotment crops are small, hard, round balls which I spread over the surface of a seed tray filled with compost then cover the seed with a thin layer of compost. These seeds will normally germinate under cover between 7 and 14 days after sowing. Sow the seeds of summer cabbages at around the start of March with a second sowing a month later. In each batch sow 15 seeds and pick out only the strongest seedlings.
Planting Out: When planting out brassicas of all types the soil needs to be well dug but firm(The reason for this is that brassicas suffer from wind rock and don't form nice tight heads if disturbed by the wind). To help with wind rock the plants should be planted in a 2-3" deep furrow made along the row and then as the stalk increases in height follow it with soil built up and firmed in around the stalk.
Harvesting: When harvesting cabbage cut the stalk approx 1cm from the base of the leaves (You will find that this stalk will discolour but the cabbage will store for longer.). At the end of the season cabbages should be picked and shredded, blanched and put in the freezer for winter use.
Pests and Diseases: The number one pest of cabbages is the cabbage white butterflies caterpillars which will if left strip the crop in no time at all. The only worthwhile way of stopping these beasties is with netting. There are numerous methods that can be used including regular inspections, pesticides and homemade deterrent sprays (garlic etc.).
There are a number of other pests and diseases which do affect cabbages at various stages of growth. I have listed the remaining pests and the preventions I use:(This is not an exhaustive list but covers most bases)
- Slugs and Snails - Pellets
- Pigeons - Netting
- Root Fly - Mulch
- Club root - Liming
- Aphids - Insect spray
Varieties: The following are the varieties i have used with notes on the performance of each one.
- Greyhound - Good basic pointed cabbage, good for the beginner widely available and good in the kitchen.
- Primo - Again good starter seed, round head and reasonable kitchen use
- Hispi - My favourite, small pointed heads of tasty relatively loose leaves, ideal for a smaller house hold or a non cabbage enthusiast.