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Gardeners Advice


Summer cabbages
17 Jan

Summer cabbages

Posted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips

As long as you have somewhere sheltered and reasonably warm to successfully germinate seeds and bring on young plants, now is a good time to make a start in readiness for the season ahead and sow the seed of summer cabbages. If everything goes to plan, by late May you could have a row of beautiful plants - round or pointy, vibrant green with ridged or crinkly leaves - looking almost too good to pick.

Growing cabbages all the year round

In recent years, cabbage has made a comeback, shrugging off its reputation for being ‘winter vegetable’, often served as a soggy, over-cooked mess. If you are a lover of cabbage in all its different forms, with a bit of organised sowing it is possible to have an endless supply throughout the year and enjoy eating cabbage braised or lightly steamed, shredded in coleslaw and salads, or added to stir fries.

How to sow cabbage seed

Varieties of cabbage for summer eating can be sown any time now, either in a seed tray or plant pot filled with suitable compost. I prefer sowing in a medium sized plastic pot which I fill with multi-purpose compost, sieved to remove lumps of fibre and other bulky matter and then given a gentle watering. Although it’s on the small side, cabbage seed can be picked up and placed on the surface of the compost, ensuring even spacing. If you prefer, sow single seeds in modules. A sprinkling of fine compost over the top and the job is done. Place the tray or pot in a sheltered spot – greenhouse or under a cloche.

Potting up plants

Once the small cabbage plants have developed a pair of true leaves (not the wispy, thread-like leaves which appear first on the stem), they are ready to be transplanted into small pots. This will provide them with space to grow and it is surprising just how quickly this will happen. Don’t forget to water!

Create perfect growing conditions for cabbages

To grow good-sized cabbages with lovely firm heads, grow them in a sunny spot and add a generous amount of organic matter (manure, homemade compost etc) to the soil well in advance. Before planting, walk over the ground to firm it, then rake the surface smooth. Never plant cabbages (and other brassicas) in the same spot two years running.

Planting out

The plants are ready to plant in their final position when they have five or six good leaves. Water well before planting and firm in well with the heel of your wellie boot and water again. Follow the guidelines on the seed pack regarding spacing the plants – generally 30cm (1ft) apart for compact varieties and 45cm (18in) apart for larger ones.

Suggested varieties to sow now for summer eating

Greyhound, Caraflex F1 and Tantour F1 (pointed ‘hispi’ heads); Primo (‘ball head’), Summer Jewel F1 (loose leaf for shredding).

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