One of the most dependable and nutritious crops for the winter garden, cabbage is easy to grow. Seedlings set out in late fall grow into big plants with broad, gray-green leaves that shade the soil and smother weeds.
As days become longer in late winter, the plants’ new growth forms vitamin-rich heads, which can get huge when cabbage is grown in fertile soil and given plenty of water.
Grow Cabbage in Winter:
- Keep cabbage seedlings watered until you are ready to plant.
- Prepare enriched planting holes about 16 inches apart since cabbage plants need plenty of space. Use a spade or digging fork to loosen a 12-inch square of soil, and then mix in a 1-inch layer of compost and a standard application of an organic or time-release vegetable fertilizer. Follow label directions for how much to use.
- Keep insects away from your cabbage by covering the plants with row cover or very lightweight cloth like tulle. Use stakes or hoops to hold the cover above the plants, and use clothespins to secure it in place.
- Water your cabbage every two to three days, or more often if the weather is unusually warm and dry. Cabbage needs at least 1 inch of water per week. But avoid wetting the leaves when watering your cabbage late in the day. Plants that stay wet at night can develop issues with mold and mildew.
- Fertilize cabbage with a water-soluble plant food when the plants have 6 to 8 leaves, and again a month or so later, when the inner leaves begin to fold over in the center to form a head.
- Harvest cabbage in late winter.
Tip: Bring in the entire crop before the weather turns warm. Trimmed heads of cabbage stored in the refrigerator in plastic bags will keep for several weeks.