Cabbage

Cabbage is a hardy, leafy vegetable full of vitamins. It can be difficult to grow; it only likes cool temperatures, and it can be a magnet for some type of pests. By planning your growing season and providing diligent care, you may have two successful crops in one year, both spring and fall. Many varieties are available to suit both your growing conditions and taste preferences.

Planting

  • Start cabbage seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. See frost dates for your area here.
  • Harden off plants over the course of a week. To prepare soil, till in aged manure or compost.
  • Transplant outdoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last expected frost date. Choose a cloudy afternoon.
  • Plant 12 to 24 inches apart in rows, depending on size of head desired. The closer you plant, the smaller the heads.
  • Mulch thickly to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
  • Practice crop rotation with cabbage year to year to avoid a buildup of soil borne diseases.
  • Although broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are closely related, cabbage will not tolerate them. Also avoid proximity to strawberries and tomatoes.
  • Cabbage can be grown near beans and cucumbers.
  • Check out our chart of plant companions for an expanded list of friends and foes.

 

Care

  • When transplants reach 5 inches tall, thin to make sure they are still the desired length apart. (The plants you remove can be transplanted elsewhere in your garden.)
  • Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting.
  • Keep soil moist with mulch and water 2 inches per week.

 

Pests

  • Imported Cabbageworms
  • Aphids
  • Cabbage Root Maggots
  • Flea Beetles
  • Splitting

 

Harvest/Storage

  • Harvest when heads reach desired size and are firm. This will take around 70 days for most green cabbage varieties. Most early varieties will produce 1- to 3-pound heads.
  • Cut each cabbage head at its base with a sharp knife. After harvesting, bring inside or put in shade immediately.
  • To get two crops from early cabbage plants, cut the cabbage head out of the plant, leaving the outer leaves and root in the garden. The plant will send up new heads—pinch them off until only four or so smaller heads remain. When these grow to tennis-ball size, they’ll be perfect for salad.
  • After harvesting, remove the entire stem and root system from the soil to prevent disease buildup. Only compost healthy plants; destroy those with maggot infestation.
  • Cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two weeks, wrapped lightly in plastic. Make sure it is dry before storing. In proper root cellar conditions, cabbage will keep for up to 3 months. See our article on root cellars.

Carrots

Carrots are a popular root vegetable that are easy to grow in sandy soil. They are resistant to most pests and diseases, and are a good late season crop that can tolerate frost. Not all carrots are orange; varieties vary in color from purple to white.

Planting

  • Plan to plant seeds outdoors 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date.
  • Make sure your soil is free of stones; carrots need deeply tilled soil that they can push through.
  • Have you ever seen a carrot that has grown “legs” or forked? Fresh manure, or even recently applied rotted manure, can cause carrots to fork and send out little side roots. Don’t use it before you plant your seeds.
  • Plant seeds 3-4 inches apart in rows. Rows should be at least a foot apart.

 

Care

  • Gently mulch to retain moisture, speed germination and block the sun from the roots.
  • Soil should be well drained and loose to prevent forking and stunting of the root growth.
  • Once plants are an inch tall, thin so they stand 3 inches apart. Snip them with scissors instead of pulling them out to prevent damage to the roots of remaining plants.
  • Water at least one inch per week.
  • Weed diligently.
  • Fertilize 5-6 weeks after sowing.
  • Carrots taste much better after a couple of frosts. Following the first hard frost in the fall, cover carrot rows with an 18-inch layer of shredded leaves to preserve them for harvesting later.

 

Pests

  • Wireworms
  • Flea Beetles
  • Aster Yellow Disease will cause shortened and discolored carrot tops and hairy roots. This disease is spread by pests as they feed from plant to plant. Keep weeds down and invest in a control plan for pests such as leafhoppers. This disease has the ability to overwinter.

 

Harvest/Storage

  • Carrots are mature at around 2 ½ months and ½ inch in diameter. You may harvest whenever desired maturity is reached.
  • You may leave mature carrots in the soil for storage if the ground will not freeze.
  • To store freshly harvested carrots, twist off the tops, scrub off the dirt under cold running water, let dry and seal in airtight plastic bags, and refrigerate. If you simply put fresh carrots in the refrigerator, they’ll go limp in a few hours.
  • Carrots can be stored in tubs of moist sand for winter use.