Growing cabbage

I read something interesting the other day. It was an article on growing cabbage and broccoli.

According to the article, if the roots are particularly crowded or the plants are otherwise stressed, it can directly affect the performance of the plant during the growing season. Most gardeners probably purchase seedlings from nurseries, rather than starting them from seed. Oftentimes, those seedlings are root-bound in their pots because they've grown at the nursery for quite a few weeks before being purchased. 

Maybe that sounds like a no-brainer to you but as I read on, it indicated this can cause smaller heads on broccoli plants, or even no heads, and poor head size on cabbage plants. Interesting, eh?

I bring this up because I was anxious to transplant my cabbage seedlings into larger pots and this information was certainly foremost on my mind!

This year, I'm growing two cabbage varieties, 'New Jersey Wakefield' and 'Caraflex'. I planted the seeds on April 4th in one of those seed-starting kits that contains soil plugs and sets in a reservoir of water (see second photo). Yesterday, I was really impressed with the quality of the seedlings and especially the root growth.

Since I won't be transplanting my cabbage seedlings into the garden for about 2 more weeks, I knew I should get them into some bigger pots to hold them over for the time being.

As you can see, almost all of them are doing really well. I gave them a weak solution of fish fertilizer about 10 days ago and intend to feed them again by the end of this week.

As soon as they're transplanted into their permanent bed in the veggie garden, I plan to put an organic slug bait near each plant since that's been my biggest problem over the past few years. I'll also cover the beds with floating row cover to keep those pesky cabbage butterflies away from the plants. They are the adults of those green inchworms known as cabbage loopers. Aphids can also be a problem so the row cover will act as a physical barrier to keep them away, too.

I'm excited about trying the 'Caraflex' variety this year. They have really cool-looking little cone-shaped heads. So do the 'New Jersey Wakefields' but 'Caraflex' heads are even daintier (check them out at Johnny's Selected Seeds, which is where I got the seeds). I was thinking this would be a more manageable-sized head for cooking purposes and well, I have to admit the cool factor influenced my decision! I'll report back later to let you know how they performed for us.