"growing cabbages" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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Growing Cabbages

King Slaw cabbage All the members of the cabbage family, such as the head cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, are ideally suited to our climate. They are all quite cold hardy, may be started early in spring, and will yield fresh greens almost until Christmas. Purple sprouting broccoli often survives our winters here and keeps on producing "heads" almost all year round. Overwintered, it will yield bunches very early in spring.

The cabbage family can supply us with good, nourishing food in almost all seasons, especially with the more cold hardy Chinese cabbage types which grow very well in simple cold frames throughout our winters.

And grow lots of red cabbages, and especially when you are planning on growing only one type of cabbage. Like all deeply coloured vegetables, red cabbage contains high levels of "flavenoids", enzymes which prevent arterial and heart diseases.

The storage types, head cabbages bred for long storage, such as Winterkeeper or Storage Green among others, will keep well in cool storage for up to six months. This also makes them ideal candidates for cash crops, since they can be sold off bit by bit and over a long period of time, rather than all at once at harvest time, and when the market is flooded.

Cabbages, since all their edible growth consists of leaf, are heavy users of nitrogen. Use composted chicken and steer manures liberally - by the gallon per cabbage, or blood meal by the pound per cabbage. And work in 1/2 cup of phosphate for life-energy providers. All the cabbages require high levels of calcium, since this is one of the major nutrients they produce in their leaves. Hence, and not surprisingly, they require slightly alkaline soil; a pH of 7.5 is about right for them. In our acid soils this means that we need to add lime, and for quick results use garden lime at a about one pound per 100 square feet. Check with your pH tester. This is important.

But also add dolomite lime, for several reasons. Dolomite dissolves slowly and will last up to five years after application, providing a slow but steady source of calcium. And unlike garden lime, it also contains magnesium in the correct calcium/magnesium balance, without which calcium is not useable by plants. In addition, Dolomite lime also contains the complete spectrum of the 72+ trace elements - it consists of the shells of what once were sea creatures - which are so crucially vital to our health and well being. For slightly acid soils five pounds per 100 square feet should do; for more acid soils double this.

From now until April, cabbage seedlings may be started in the unheated greenhouse or indoors. Slow, steady growth without setbacks or interruptions, will result in a great crop at harvest time. Choose early, mid and late season types for a constant supply. Also, direct seed outdoors in May. Storage types should be started indoor in April. All should be transplanted outdoors when between four and five weeks old, as setback occurs when they are transplanted later than this

It is best to start seedlings in warm soil, transplant into individual 4 inch (10 centimeter) pots as soon as the first true leaves have appeared, and grow the transplants in an unheated greenhouse or outdoor cold frame for sturdy, stocky growth. If you find that despite this your seedlings have long, twisty stems, bury them halfway in the soil when transplanting them outdoors.

And start your dill seedlings in the unheated greenhouse with your cabbage seedlings, also in 4 inch pots, and transplant the whole thing, with as little disturbance of the dill's root system as possible, between your cabbages at the same time. The dill among your cabbages will help to confuse the cabbage worm moths, and so will a nice mulch of seaweed between your cabbages. This gets rid of them. And if you have any wasps around your place, be good to them. They love cabbage worms and will go right after them, deep into their tunnels.

All this sounds far more complicated than it is. We find our cabbage crops one of the easiest to grow. Carrots are a lot more work, although they sound easier.



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