Cabbage is one vegetable that you will often find in many dishes. It has protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Usually grown at the end of the rainy season or from September to March, cabbage is always demand anywhere. This make ideal crop for the backyard or large farms.
Types of cabbage
White (green cabbages) are known as white for some reason, varieties are ideal for coleslaw. Red cabbages are great for pickling but fine cooked or even raw in salads.
Ball-head cabbages will happily store on slatted shelves in a cool, dry and dark larder for months. Slatted shelves allow airflow or you can hang them in nets. Before storing, remove loose outer leaves and the inevitable slug hiding in there as well! A quick rub with salt is a good idea to catch any slugs you’ve missed.
Spring cabbages are usually sown in July and August being planted out in September and October to slowly grow over the winter and be harvested from late February through to the beginning of June.They tend to be conical in shape and quite loose leaved. You’ll often find them referred to as spring greens or collards.
In windy areas, earth up around the stem and compress the soil with your foot to ensure the plants are stable and don’t suffer root rock. Alternatively shield from the wind with windbreak netting or grow in tunnels under windbreak netting.
They’re sown from mid-February under glass to mid-May being planted out in May and June to provide a harvest from late June to November although more usually August and September are the prime harvesting months.
Most tend to be round in shape like a ball made of tight packed leaves although the Greyhound and Hispi varieties are conical like spring cabbages.
They’re ball or drum-headed and obviously very hardy.
In cold areas it’s worth checking how resistant the individual variety is to cold weather.
In cold areas go for varieties like Tundra that can cope with most anything the British winter can throw at it.
Some faster maturing varieties are ready as early as September and some will hold in the ground until the beginning of April
Many people prefer the texture and flavor of savoy cabbages to smooth ones.
Red cabbage is traditional for pickling although you can pickle white varieties. Red cabbage is superb for adding some colour to a boring winter salad when shredded finely.
Cooked it adds color as well as flavor to a meal – try this method of cooking cabbage.
Grow just like a summer cabbage, sowing in April, planting in June and harvest in September. They will hold a while in the ground or can be stored for a few months as with white ball-head cabbages.
The cultivation method is completely different than conventional cabbage as well, they do not like root disturbance and usually would be sown in situ rather than being transplanted.
Cabbage requires an optimum day requirement of 15 to 20°C but good heads can still, be obtained at temperature up to 28°C. Flower initiation in cabbage is largely affected by temperature and is not sensitive to day length.
Loamy sand is the type of soil suited to cabbage, provide there is adequate irrigation. But cabbage also adapted to a wide range of soil texture. Cabbage does not very well in a highly acid soil. A pH range of 5.6 to 7.3 gives a good yield.
Raising seedlings and transplanting them in the field saves labor.
- Soil in nursery beds should be well-pulverized and mixed with compost chicken manure. Apply more organic fertilizer and clayey soils than on sandy or loam soils. To control insects, such as ants and mole crickets, drench the beds with insecticide solution. Damping-off disease can be prevented by applying fungicide solution on the beds. After sowing, put straw on the beds to prevent the surface from drying. Remove the straw when the seedlings have emerged and are ready for pricking. Pricking is the transplanting seedlings about one week after they have germinated.
- Prepare pricking beds just like nursery beds. This time, add chemical fertilizer to promote seedling growth. The recommended fertilizer dosage per square meter is kg of compost, 10 of urea, 15 g of super phosphate and 8 grams of muriate off potash. Transfer the seedlings into the pricking beds and space them at 3 X 2 inches. Pricking is done during cloudy days. If seedling’s exposure to sunlight can’t be avoided, shade the pricking beds with coconut leaves or plastic nets at a height of 1.5 meters above the ground. When the seedlings are already established, you can remove the shade.
- Plow and harrow the field where the seedlings will be transplanted several times to control weeds and decompose organic materials. Prepare beds. When the seedling have at least five leaves, transplant them to the field. Transplant during the cloudy day to hasten the recovery of the seedlings. Low-land varieties are spaced at 75 cm x 40 cm in single rows. While in the double-row beds, plant are spaced 40 cm (within row) x 50 cm (between rows). Late maturing varieties are spaced wider apart and the early maturing varieties with small plants are spaced closely. Make sure you water the seedlings at least one hour before transplanting so that the soil will adhere to the roots. In case the field is very dry, irrigate it a day before transplanting the seedlings. Irrigate the field after transplanting.
- Since cabbage responds well to organic fertilizer, apply compost or chicken mature at planting time at the rate of 10 tons per hectare. If you have no organic fertilizer, apply chemical fertilizers. A cabbage crop yielding 25 tons per hectare can be absorb 140 kg of nitrogen, 40 kg of phosphorus and kg of potassium. During planting time apply 1/2 of the required nitrogen, 1/2 off the required potassium and all the amount of phosphorus required. Ten days after planting apply 1/8 (17.5 kg) of nitrogen. On the 30th day after planting apply again 1/8 (17.5 kg) of nitrogen. Lastly on the third application which is timed at the beginning of the head formation, apply the remaining 35 kg of N (1/4 ) and 90 kg of K (1/2). It is best to apply fertilizer after weeding.
- Provide enough moisture one week after transplanting. After the cabbage seedlings have recovered, they will be able to tolerate water stress until the heads begin to enlarge. But at this time, water stress can be significantly reduce the yield. When the plants are small, frequent but light irrigation can be provided but when they have reached full size, irrigate less frequently. The crop has dense but shallow root system. Many of its roots grow within two inches of the soil surface which run almost horizontally. This explains why cabbage needs light but frequent irrigation. During the last two weeks of the crop’s growth avoid water stress because it can reduce the quantity as well as the quantity of the yield.
- Remove the weeds carefully to avoid damaging and shallow roots. Stop soil cultivation if it becomes impossible to and the winged type is darker. Spray with Azodrin 168 at 3 tablespoon per five gallons of water to control the insects.
Plant Disease and Control
Plant infected with head rot, a disease caused by fungus, decay at the base of non-wrapper leaves which later wilt and become pallid. Soon plants turn brown then black the decay. The fungus attacks the plant before early head formation and maturity. To avoid head rot, prevent the soil from getting in contact with the cabbage leaves during cultivation. Irrigate on a regular basis to keep the soil temperature low. Also, mulch the soil with the rice straw.
Another disease, Alternatia blight, also caused by a fungus, is most destructive during the seedling stage and also during the storage manure cabbage leaves. When infected, plants show spots which appears as small, circular, yellow areas which later produce concentric ridges with black sooty color. Spots on old leaves turn brown and reach 20 to 30 mm in diameter. As a control measure , spray with Maneb at 3 to 5 tablespoon per gallon of water at 7 to 10 days interval.
When a plant is infected with a black rot, caused by bacterium, its affected tissues turn yellow (chlorosis) and the yellow progresses towards the center of the leaf, usually in V- shape. The infected leaves dehydrate and becomes brittle. Later on abscission layers at the base of affected leaves may develop early and caused premature and falling-off the leaves. To control the disease, practice crop rotation. The field should be worked when the plants are wet to avoid contamination.
Harvesting and Storage
Cabbage is ready for harvest when the heads are firm and compact. Press the cabbage head with your thumb; if it makes no depression, then the heads is compact. Bursting head are over mature. Trim diseased, discolored and insect-infested leaves because they may affect the healthy ones.
Retain two to three wrapper leaves before packaging. This will protect the heads from bruises and weight loss during transport. Before packaging, discard diseased heads because they can easily infect the healthy one especially in high temperature during transport. You can store cabbage for 4 to 6 months in low temperature (0°C) and high relative humidity (95 to 98 per cent).
Pack the cabbage in wooden crates or in bamboo baskets. If no wrappers leaves are left, use baskets lined with newspaper or fresh banana leaves to reduce mechanical damages. Arrange the containers in the vehicle in a way that will allow free air circulation. This will prevent deterioration. When the baskets used are not sturdy, provide horizontal platform dividers during loading and stacking in trucks and jeepneys. Without these divider, the bottom container will carry the weight of the load on the top, damaging the former.