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Cabbage

Image We now know that this hardy vegetable is antioxidant- and nutrient-rich, and a great addition to any garden!

Growing cabbage in arid Southern Africa can be a bit trickier than some other vegetables, but it’s still possible with some extra care. Let’s learn how, when, and why to grow cabbage in arid regions:

How to Grow Cabbage:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Cabbage is a cool-season crop, so it’s best to plant it during the cooler months when temperatures are not scorching hot. In arid regions, the ideal time to plant cabbage is during autumn or early spring.
  2. Prepare the Soil: Cabbage prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting to improve its fertility.
  3. Start Indoors or Direct Sow: In arid regions with extreme temperatures, starting cabbage seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings to the garden when they are around 4-6 weeks old can be beneficial. Alternatively, you can directly sow seeds in the garden.
  4. Spacing: Space the cabbage plants about 30-45 centimeters apart to give them enough room to grow and spread.
  5. Watering: Cabbage needs consistent moisture, especially during its early growth stages. However, be careful not to overwater, as cabbage doesn’t like waterlogged soil.
  6. Protection from Heat: In arid regions with intense heat, providing some shade or using shade cloth during the hottest part of the day can help protect young cabbage plants from stress.
  7. Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around the cabbage plants can help retain soil moisture and keep the soil cooler.
  8. Pest Control: Keep an eye out for common pests like caterpillars and aphids. Use organic pest control methods if needed, such as handpicking pests or using neem oil spray.
  9. Harvesting: Cabbage is ready for harvest when the heads are firm and fully formed. Harvest by cutting the head at the base, leaving the outer leaves intact.

Why Grow Cabbage:

  1. Nutrient-Rich: Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to your diet.
  2. Versatile in Cooking: Cabbage can be used in various dishes, including salads, coleslaw, stir-fries, soups, and more, adding both flavor and nutrition to your meals.
  3. Storage and Preservation: Cabbage can be stored for an extended period, making it a valuable crop for times when fresh produce may not be readily available.
  4. Short Growing Season: Some cabbage varieties have a relatively short growing season, allowing you to harvest fresh heads within a few months.

While growing cabbage in arid regions may require some extra attention to water and protection from extreme heat, it can be a rewarding addition to your garden. Just remember to choose the right time to plant, provide adequate care, and be on the lookout for pests. Happy gardening and enjoy your fresh, homegrown cabbage!

Growing Cabbage

Cabbage Planting:

  • Cabbage is a cool-season vegetable suitable for spring and fall.
  • Starting seeds indoors: Sow seeds 0.5 cm deep 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost.
  • Fall harvest: Direct sow seeds outdoors or plant transplants in mid- to late summer.
  • Consider local conditions: If it’s hot and dry, delay planting until late summer.
  • Soil preparation: Mix aged manure and compost into the soil; ensure good drainage.
  • Transplanting: Harden off seedlings for a week before transplanting. Plant them 30-50 cm apart in rows.

Growing Cabbages:

  • Thinning seedlings: When they’re about 13 cm tall, thin seedlings to desired spacing.
  • Optimal soil temperature: Around 18°C; cover plants if temperatures drop below 7°C.
  • Fertilization: 2 weeks after transplanting, use balanced organic fertilizer. After 3 weeks, add nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer.
  • Crop rotation: Rotate cabbages to prevent soil-borne diseases.
  • Common pests and diseases:
    • Aphids: Misshapen leaves, sticky “honeydew,” sooty mold. Use water spray, insecticidal soap, or beneficial insects.
    • Black rot: Yellow V-shaped areas on leaves. Destroy infected plants, provide good drainage.
    • Cabbage loopers: Ragged holes in leaves. Handpick, use row covers, or spray with insecticidal soap.
    • Cabbage root maggots: Wilted plants, larvae on roots. Use collars, yellow sticky traps, or row covers.
    • Cabbageworms: Holes in leaves, skeletonized leaves. Handpick, use row covers, or apply Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
    • Clubroot: Wilted plants, distorted roots. Destroy infected plants, maintain pH, rotate crops.
    • Downy mildew: Yellow spots on leaves, white growth on undersides. Remove debris, choose resistant varieties.
    • Flea beetles: Tiny holes in leaves. Use row covers, mulch, or beneficial insects.
    • Slugs/snails: Irregular holes, slimy secretion. Handpick, use barriers, drown in beer solution, or apply diatomaceous earth.
    • Stinkbugs: Yellow blotches on leaves, scarred fruit. Handpick, destroy eggs, use row covers.
    • Thrips: White patches on leaves, brown tips, distorted heads. Remove debris, use resistant plants, or traps.
    • White mold: Gray areas on stems, white cottony growth. Destroy infected plants, ensure air circulation.

Harvesting Cabbages:

  • Harvest when heads are firm and desired size. Cut at the base with a sharp knife.
  • Avoid leaving mature heads on the stem to prevent splitting.
  • Days to maturity: around 70 days, producing 0.5 to 1.5 kg heads.
  • For multiple crops: Cut head, leaving outer leaves and root. Harvest tennis ball-size heads.

Storing Cabbages:

  • Store in proper root cellar conditions for up to 3 months.
  • Harvest entire plant in fall, store roots in cellar.
  • In spring, plant roots outdoors; fresh sprouts will form for consumption.
  • Replanted cabbages won’t produce full heads but will go to seed for next year.

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