General Cabbage information

If you want a garden food supply you can depend on, cabbage is a must. Easy to grow and much sweeter than those bought in the grocery store, Territorial's selection of cabbages are harvestable almost 12 months of the year.


Cabbages can be grown as transplants or direct sown, although early sowings may fail in cold rainy Springs. Cabbage is a hardy, cool-season crop that does best under uniform cool, moist conditions. Sow early cabbage types March through June. Later maturing types should be sown late May to early June to allow for the heads to form during the relative cool of the Fall. Although it will withstand wide temperature variations, the optimum soil temperature range for growth is between 60-65F.

Fertility requirements for cabbages are relatively high. 1-1/2 to 2 cups of complete organic fertilizer worked into the soil around each plant will provide the nutrition necessary for best production. The preferred pH is 6.5 and 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week is required for uninterrupted growth.

When direct sown, plant the seed 1/2 inch deep, 5 seeds per foot; thinned or transplanted plant spacings should be 18 inches for small-framed types, and 24 inches for large-framed varieties, in rows 2 - 4 feet apart.


The first sign of cabbage worms will be white diamond-back moths fluttering close to the ground and over the plants. They will lay eggs in the soil around the plants, which hatch into worms that can cause severe root and head damage. To control light infestations simply spray plants with BT. For heavy infestations fill a water can with 1 tablespoon per gallon of BT solution, and drench the soil around the plants. Root maggots can be controlled by placing a physical barrier around each plant, such as a Reemay tent. This will prevent the fly from laying her eggs on the stem. Also see Chinese Cabbage. To bait cabbage worms, mix wheat bran into the above BT water solution until all water is absorbed by the bran. Hand sprinkle or broadcast bran mixture in and around the base of plants. Reapply as necessary. To control flea beetles, aphids, and symphylans see broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.


The home gardener growing cabbage can prevent many cole crop diseases by practicing crop rotations, using sterile starting mixes, and adopting strict garden sanitation methods.


Early types mature fast and burst quickly so they must be harvested promptly. Later types, maturing in late Summer or Autumn when growth rates are slow, will hold in the field for much longer, often several months. When cutting the heads from the stems, leave two or three of the wrapper leaves to protect against bruising. Over-mature heads are subject to splitting, especially if they are exposed to moisture fluctuations. Successful storage starts with a good cultivar, free of diseases or injuries. Late storage types will keep for up to 6 months when kept at 32F and at 98-100% relative humidity, while early types will store for 1 - 2 months.

Cabbage Types

Early Cabbage Types

These cabbages grow quickly and mature quickly, so they must be harvested quickly. These are the standard sort of cabbage grown.

55 days from planting to harvest. From the Far East comes this exceptional early green cabbage. Two pounds in size, this mild, small-cored variety has enough variability to offer the home gardener a longer window of harvest. Top notch quality for slaw or kraut.

Derby Day (Golden Acre)
58 days from planting to harvest. Dark-green heads have attractive pale hearts. The flavor, especially of the heart, is extremely sweet and tender. The uniform, round light green heads run 3 - 5 pounds and about 5 - 7 inches in diameter depending on spacing. English seed.

66 days from planting to harvest. Medium green with yellowish-white interior. Forms dense heads of 3 - 4 pounds. Stands for weeks without splitting and is suited to close spacings. Matures its head one to two weeks after Derby Day and eight to nine weeks before Danish Ballhead. Eating quality is excellent, with a full rich flavor.

Ruby Ball
88 days from planting to harvest. Ruby Ball is clearly the best early Red Cabbage. The attractive firm red heads have a mild sweet flavor, and weigh in at 3 - 4 pounds. Ruby Ball also holds in the field a long time, for extended fresh harvests. Japanese seed.

90 days from planting to harvest. Very attractive, blue-green color with a fine, highly-savoyed head. The firm, well-packed cabbage heads average 3 - 5 pounds and will hold for weeks without bursting. Sweet and mild-flavored.

Autumn Cabbage Types

For Late Cabbage Salad Succession

Slaw or salad is the primary purpose of most gardeners' cabbage patches. And the finest cabbage salads of all are made from the savoy types; very thin-leaved, very tender, very mild and tasty.

However, these thin, tender, succulent leaves are not very cold hardy, so for very late maturity in maritime climates, the Europeans developed extra hardy types (January King and Wivoy) with thicker, tougher leaves. Extra-vigorous, hybrid savoys are the easiest-to-grow type of cabbage.

Red Rodan
140 days from planting to harvest. Large-framed, round, red cabbages average 8 - 10 inches in diameter. Very hard 2 3/4 pound heads are surprisingly tender for a variety that often can stand until March without rotting. Vigorous plants make Red Rodan one of the easier types of cabbage to grow. Danish seed.

Danish Ballhead
125 days from planting to harvest. 7 - 10 inch diameter, 3 1/2 pound, well-protected, light green heads have good field-holding ability into the Winter. Mild and tender, Danish Ballhead is a general-purpose cabbage for kraut, slaw or cooking. Danish seed.

86 days from planting to harvest. Medium large 8 - 10 pound, blue-green heads with a very white, crispy, tightly packed interior. This Summer-planted cabbage is perfect for sauerkraut. Small-cored and resistant to black rot.

145 days from planting to harvest. A medium-sized 4 1/2 pound, white cabbage with exceptional holding ability makes for extended harvest time. Bently is a sweet, mild cabbage with a good head wrap and moderate-sized core. In past Winter trials, Bently withstood a week of 19 degree weather with no ill effects. Harvest January-March. Highly recommended as a cabbage for very long storage. Dutch seed.

150 days from planting to harvest. An exceptional red cabbage variety from France. The 2-1/2 pound heads are uniform throughout with a firm wrap and medium core. Rougette's most distinctive characteristic is its leaf and head color--a beautiful burgundy red with a striking velvet glow. Its appearance, along with its clean yet robust flavor, will surely be a favorite for gardener's fresh use or storage.

January King
160 - 210 days from planting to harvest. This French heirloom is a most dependable Winter cabbage variety. Flattened green heads with purplish markings on the veins and slightly savoyed outer leaves. The heads are between 3 - 5 pounds and quite compact. Very cold hardy with the ability to stand in the field until March. Best planted early in July. English seed.

77 days from planting to harvest. Vigorously growing, beautiful plants produce uniformly large 8 1/2 inch, light green, flat-topped, white-cored, medium-dense heads that make the finest-tasting cabbage salads. Long field-holding ability.

160 days from planting to harvest. Highly savoyed, medium-green, vigorously-growing large plants develop a crinkly 3-pound head very late in Fall and don't get hard until January. The heads are fairly tender and have a mild flavor, resisting rain, frost and freezes until the end of March. This variety has withstood freezing down to 7 degrees and showed no damage after being frozen solid for weeks.

Overwinter Cabbage Types

(August sown) In England, spring cabbages are called a gambler's crop, and the varieties available from their seed houses are numerous--but most of them fail to work.

Sowing must be timed so that they make some growth before Winter cold and low light levels check their growth . . . enough that they'll head out well in spring, but not so much that they bolt before heading out!


Spring cabbages need well-limed and well-manured soil at planting time. Sow the seeds outdoors late in August and before mid-September; or mid-October if growing them under coldframes to transplant out early in spring when they're 6 - 8 inches tall. If this is your first attempt at spring cabbage, try several sowings 10 days apart. Doing this will give you a feel for the plant. The plants should be spaced out about 18 inches in all directions. In late February, side dress the plants with bloodmeal (one teaspoonful per plant) and again late March so that large heads are obtained.

230 days from planting to harvest. A hardy bolt-resistant ballhead type. This introduction was developed for the earliest possible spring yields from an early to mid-September sowing. The eating quality compares with the Golden Acre types. The uniform 3 pound heads are quite solid and will hold for two weeks at maturity. Seed from England.

First Early Market
240 days from planting to harvest. Developed by the English equivalent of the USDA for extreme reliability under a broad range of conditions. First Early Market 218 is cold-hardy to below 10 degrees. The heads are small, 1 - 1 1/2 pounds, pointed and rather loose, and offer a pleasant improvement in the quality of garden greens during early May when they head up. The seed is from England.