Why Grow It?

Pair it with bacon or shred it for a slaw, cabbage is a supremely useful, healthy vegetable that grows well in our relatively cool climate and is easy to grow.  With a little planning it’s also possible to have a supply of cabbage all year round, even through the coldest of winters.  The only downside tends to be the amount of space they take up.


A foolproof way to grow healthy cabbage seedlings is to sow them in module seed trays – sow one or two seeds in each module 1.5cm deep.  Thin out the weaker seedling.  Cabbages will germinate in about a week and will be ready for planting about three weeks later.  Make sure to harden off early sowings carefully.  The key with cabbage is to plant in to firm ground – the root and stem will eventually have to support a very heavy head!  Since they are a hungry crop, add plenty of  compost or manure the previous autumn.   Water plants well before sowing – create a hole with a dibber, pop the seedling in and then firm in very well.  Spacing will determine the size of the heads - between 45-60cm is about right.  Cabbages will tolerate partial shade.  Include cabbages in your brassica rotation – do not plant them where there have been brassicas for at least 3-4 years previously. A suggested planting plan for a near continuous supply of cabbage (assuming you have the space):

  • Summer Cabbage – sow early April
  • Autumn Cabbage – sow early May
  • Winter Cabbage – sow early June
  • Spring Cabbage – sow early August


Hoe around young seedlings regularly to keep weeds down.  Water regularly to prevent the roots from drying out.  Earthing up stems will help the plant to support the head, particularly in a windy site.


Harvest spring and summer cabbages as soon as they have formed good compact heads.  Autumn and winter cabbages will stand much longer in the ground, but you can lift them and store in a cool shed if you want to clear your beds for the winter.   Harvest by cutting through the base of the stem.

Recommended Varieties

  • Vertus (Savoy) — a very frost hardy savoy cabbage with finely blistered dark green leaves for harvesting from October until February. BUY FROM OUR SHOP
  • Hispi F1 (Spring) — a delicious early pointed cabbage. One of the most tender cabbages especially if grown in early spring in a tunnel. Be aware though that once it is ready it will crack, so only sow a few seeds at a time. BUY FROM OUR SHOP
  • Stonehead F1 (Summer) — an excellent summer cabbage producing a dark green head with a solid heart with an excellent flavour. BUY FROM OUR SHOP
  • Red Drumhead (Red) — Solid, dark red, round heads of fine texture, excellent for pickling and for speciality cooked dishes. Summer/Autumn maturing. BUY FROM OUR SHOP
  • January King Late no 3 (Winter) — A very hardy, frost resistant variety with red –tinged leaves. The colder it gets the redder the leaves. Matures from November until January. Harvest as required. BUY FROM OUR SHOP
  • Tundra (Winter)
  • Dottenfelder Dauer (White Dutch)


Cabbage Root Fly maggots eat the roots causing the plant to stop growing.  Prevention is better than cure – 15cm wide “collars” made from felt or carpet placed around the stem at soil level, can prevent the adult fly from laying its eggs.  The other major pests are butterfly (large and small white) and moths which lay their eggs on the underside of leaves – the resulting caterpillars will munch their way through your crop in no time.  You can remove the caterpillars as they appear, but again the best option is prevention – cover your cabbage crop with appropriate netting to stop the butterfly laying its eggs on the leaves.  A more serious (though less prevelent) problem is clubroot, a fungus which can stay in the soil for up to 20 years.

GIY Tips

You can test to see if the young seedling is planted firmly enough as follows: after planting, tug at a leaf, the leaf should pull off (as opposed to pulling the whole seedling out of the ground.
After harvesting a cabbage head, cut a cross in to the stem, if left in the soil, each quadrant in the stem will sprout baby cabbage leaves which effectively gives you a second crop from the one plant.