How To Grow Cabbage

Plant Type: Annual
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea var. capitata
Light: Full sun – light shade in warm weather
Soil Type: Fertile – drains well
Soil Temperature: 40°+
ph Range: 6.0 – 7.0
Watering: Keep moist
Plant (Payson): March 1 – May 1 / August – September
Planting Method: Seed or transplant
Germination (days): 8 to 14
Transplant: Recommended
Maturity(days): 90 – 95 days
Common Pests: Cabbage worm, Aphids
Common Diseases: Club root, Cabbage yellows


Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) can be challenging to grow because it only likes cool weather and can be a magnet for certain insects. Cabbage comes in a variety of green shades, as well as purple or red. The shape and size of the head varies as well. Most cabbage varieties have smooth leaves but the Savoy cabbage leaves are crinkly. Always pick varieties suited to our area—several varieties are available with different maturity times so you can have a summer and a fall harvest. Check with your local nursery for recommendations.
CAB secondary cabbages form after main head is harvested  AB

Cabbage prefers loamy fertile soil amended with compost. To prepare soil, till in aged manure or compost. Do not plant cabbage in the same area of your garden that you have grown cabbage and other cabbage related plants in the last two years. Practice crop rotation to prevent soil borne diseases. Mulch plants thickly
on a regular basis to retain moisture and maintain consistent soil temperature.



Seeds or plants, the choice is yours. Using starter plants will give you a jump start on the growing season however, they are more expensive. Be sure to space the plants 12 to 24 inches apart. The closer you space your cabbage plants, the smaller the head of the cabbage will be. Early varieties of cabbage can be planted 12 inches apart and will grow one to three pound heads. The later varieties can produce heads upwards of eight pounds. Hot weather can make your cabbage split or even bolt.


Growing cabbage from seeds, although less costly, will be more labor intensive. If growing cabbage from seed for summer harvest, sow seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last hard freeze. Transplant your seedlings as soon as possible so they can mature before summer heat.

To sow directly in to your garden sow the cabbage seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep. After you sow them, keep them moist and thin them out to desired spacing once they grow. Cabbages are heavy feeders so make sure you fertilize your plants, especially after transplanting. Add nitrogen as well when the cabbage is half grown. Make sure the soil is moist throughout the growing season so your cabbage produces better heads.

If planting for fall harvest you can sow the seeds directly into your garden in mid-summer.

cabbage seedlings in pot
cabbage starting to grow
rows of cabbage


Mulch to help maintain moisture, to get rid of current weeds and to prevent future weeds. Mulching will also provide for a cooler ground temperature.

Cabbage plants will need consistently moist soil to do their best. Good irrigation is especially important to the young plants to help them withstand the intense sunlight. Without enough water, the head will become dry, cracked and bitter. Plants should have one deep soak per week.

Being heavy feeders, add an organic fertilizer when transplanting into the garden. Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Once plants are established you may need to add additional nitrogen to encourage growth

Weed as necessary and mulch to prevent weeds from recurring.

Black rot, Clubroot, Cabbage yellows

Cabbage worms, aphids, flea beetles and cabbage root maggots

As soon as the cabbage forms firm heads of the desired size it is ready to harvest. It will take 70 days or so for most green cabbage varieties to mature. It is best to harvest cabbage before the head start to split. You can still harvest the cabbage after the head has split, but do it soon because damage to the cabbage plant will attract disease and pests. Cut each cabbage head at its base with a sharp knife.

To get additional heads to form, remove the cabbage head out of the plant, leaving the outer leaves and roots in the soil.   The plant will send up new heads. After harvesting, remove the entire plant and root system from the soil to prevent disease buildup. Only compost healthy plants; carefully place those with insect infestation and soil borne diseases in the dumpster.


You can serve cabbage raw or cooked – or try it steamed, boiled, stir-fried, sautéed, baked or used in soups. Shred cabbage for coleslaw or to preserve as Sauerkraut.

Cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two weeks, wrapped lightly in plastic. Make sure it is dry before storing. In proper root cellar conditions, cabbage will keep for up to 3 months. Cooked cabbage may be frozen for later use.

Helpful Links

To aid in your gardening success, here are some useful, trusted links for more information on cabbage.

How To Mulch Your Garden | Types of Mulch - The Almanac

What Is Mulch | How To Use 8 Types in Your Garden - The Spruce

How To Mulch Your Garden In The Fall - The Spruce

Please remember Payson Community Garden is an organic garden. Some of these sites may contain recommendations for non-organic products. Please see this website or Plant Fair Nursery website for a list of recommended products
that meet the organic standards of Payson Community Garden.

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