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Cabbage Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Cabbage Crop1
Cabbage growing in garden
Cabbage Growing Problems: Avoid many cabbage growing problems by sowing cabbage seed so that plants come to harvest in cool weather.

Grow cabbage as rapidly as possible. Give cabbage plenty of moisture and be sure to feed it through the season–a planting bed amended with aged compost and side dressings of compost tea every two weeks will do the job.

Cabbage can be grown in three distinct crops: early, midseason and late. Early cabbage can be wintered over in cold frames from seed started the preceding fall (or sow early cabbage in hotbeds in late winter and transplant in early spring). Midseason cabbage may be sown in the cold frame 6 weeks before transplanting into the garden after the last frost in spring. Late varieties may be sown in early summer directly in the garden where they are to mature.

While cabbage is hardy at maturity, young plants should not be subjected to frost.

For cabbage growing tips see Cabbage Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.

Here are common cabbage growing problems with cures and controls:

• Seedlings fail to emerge from soil; seedlings are eaten; roots are tunneled. Cabbage maggot is a small gray-white, legless worm to ⅓-inch long; adult is the cabbage root fly, looks like a housefly. Flies lay eggs in the soil near the seedling or plant. Maggots will tunnel into roots leaving brown scars; some plants may be honeycombed with slimy tunnels. Exclude flies with floating row covers. Remove and dispose of damaged plants. Apply lime or wood ashes around the base of plants; time planting to avoid insect growth cycle. Plant a bit later when the weather is drier. Companion plant with mint.

• Seeds rot or seedlings collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they appear. Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil, particularly where humidity is high. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained.

• Seedlings are eaten or cut off near soil level. Cutworms are gray grubs ½- to ¾-inch long that can be found curled under the soil. They chew stems, roots, and leaves. Place a 3-inch paper collar around the stem of the plant. Keep the garden free of weeds; sprinkle wood ash around base of plants.

• Young sprouts fail to grow or die back; bluish-black spot on leaves and stems. Blackleg is a fungal disease which leaves sprouts girdled and rotting at soil level–“blacklegs.” Blackleg is spread by cutworms and cabbage maggots. Remove and destroy infected plants; keep the garden free of plant debris. Add organic matter to planting bed; make sure soil is well-drained. Rotate crops.

• Young plants flower. Cold will cause young plants to flower and produce seed without forming a head. Protect young plants from cold weather with floating row covers; set transplants into the garden no sooner than 1 to 3 weeks before the last average frost date in spring.

• Main stem becomes dark and wiry. Wirestem is caused by the Rhizoctonia fungus which also caused damping off. Infected plant will not produce strong heads. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained.

• Irregular yellowish to brownish spots on upper leaf surfaces; grayish powder or mold on undersides. Downy mildew is caused by a fungus. Improve air circulation. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Keep garden free of plant debris.

• Plant wilts; roots are swollen and misshapen, roots rot. Clubroot is a soilborne fungal disease. Fungus interferes with water and nutrient uptake of roots. Keep the garden clean of plant debris and weeds that can harbor the fungus. Remove and destroy infected plants including soil around roots. Clubroot is found in acid soils; add lime if soil pH below 7.2. Rotate crops for at least 2 years. Purchase transplants from disease-free supplier.

• Leaves become dull yellow, curl, and plant may die. Cabbage yellows is caused by the Fusarium soil fungus that infects plants usually where the soil is warm. The disease is spread by leafhoppers. Remove infected plants. Control leafhopper. Keep the garden free of weeds which can harbor disease. Keep soil evenly moist, but not wet. Rotate crops. Plant resistant varieties: Early Snowball.

• Leaves yellow; plant stunted; small glistening white specks on roots. Cyst nematode is a microscopic worm-like animal that lives in the film of water that coats soil particles. Rotate cabbage family crops. Solarize the soil with clear plastic in mid-summer.

• Plant stunted; worms tunnel into roots. Plump grayish grub with brown head is the larva of the June beetle, a reddish brown or black hard-shelled beetle to 1 inch long. Wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles; they look like wiry-jointed worms. Check soil before planting; hand pick and destroy pests; flood the soil if wireworms are present. Remove infested plants and surrounding soil. Keep the garden free of refuse that could shelter beetle eggs.

• Leaves are yellowish and slightly curled with small shiny specks. Aphids are tiny, oval, whitish-green, pink, or black pear-shaped insects that colonize on leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Remove with a blast of water. Use insecticidal soap solution. Mulch with aluminum foil to disorient aphids.

• Leaves have whitish or yellowish spots; leaves are deformed; plant wilts. Harlequin bugs or stink bugs. Harlequin are black with bright red yellow or orange markings. They suck fluids from plant tissue causing white and yellow blotches. Handpick and destroy bugs and egg masses. Keep garden free of crop residue and weeds where bugs breed. Spray plants wit Sevin, pyrethrum and rotenone. Stink bugs are gray or green shield-shaped bugs about ¼-inch long; they feed on fruits. Remove garden debris and weeds where bugs can overwinter. Hand-pick egg masses and bugs and destroy.

• Tiny shot-holes in leaves of seedlings. Flea beetles are tiny bronze or black beetles a sixteenth of an inch long. They eat small holes in the leaves of seedlings and small transplants. The larvae feed on roots of germinating plants. Spread diatomaceous earth around seedling. Handpick off plants, Cultivate often to disrupt life cycle. Keep garden clean. Spade garden soil deeply to destroy larvae in earl spring. Treat plants with Sevin, pyrethrum, or rotenone.

• Leaves partially eaten; leaves webbed together; eggs in rows on undersides of leaves. Cabbage webworms are green with a light stripe to ¾ inches long; the webworm is the larvae of a brownish yellow moth with gray markings. Larvae spin light webs. Clip off and destroy webbed leaves. Destroy caterpillars. Keep garden weed free.

• Leaves are eaten and plants are partially defoliated. Blister beetles are slender gray or metallic black beetles to ¾-inch long; they may have striped spots on their wings. Handpick beetles and destroy. Keep the garden weeds and debris. Cultivate in spring to kill larvae and interrupt the life cycle. Spray or dust with Sevin or use a pyrethrum or rotenone spray.

• Small holes in leaves; loose cocoons about ⅓-inch long on leaves. Pale green caterpillar is the larvae of the gray diamondback moth. Moth has yellow diamondback-shapes on folded wings. Keep garden free of weeds, particularly mustard plants. Handpick and destroy caterpillars. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis is very effective.

• Large holes in leaves; leaves skeletonized. Cabbage loopers or armyworms. (1) Cabbage looper is a light green caterpillar with yellow stripes running down the back; it loops as it walks. Keep garden clean of debris where adult brownish night-flying moth can lay eggs. Cover plants with spun polyester to exclude moths. Pick loppers off by hand. Use Bacillus thuringiensis. Dust with Sevin or rotenone. (2) Armyworms are dark green caterpillars the larvae of a mottled gray moth with a wingspan of 1½ inches. Armyworms mass and eat leaves, stems, and roots of many crops. Armyworms will live inside webs on leaves. Handpick caterpillars and destroy. Cultivate after harvest to expose the pupae. Use commercial traps with floral lures.

• Leaves are chewed and slimed. Snails and slugs eat leaves. Collect these pests at night. Set beer traps at soil level to attract and drown snails and slugs.

• Leaves chewed; tunnels inside cabbage and cauliflower heads. Imported cabbage worm is a pale green caterpillar with yellow stripes to about 1¼ inches long; the adult is a white moth with two or three black spots on the forewing. Use Bacillus thuringiensis. Destroy all remains and weeds after harvest. Companion plant with mint. Encourage the predatory trichogramma wasp.

• Browning along margins of old leaves; water spots at core of plant; leaves are bitter and tough. Boron deficiency, often found in alkaline soils. Test soil. If deficient, add 2 ounces of borax per 30 square yards. Plant resistant varieties: Plant Wisconsin Ballhead, Wisconsin Hollander No. 8.

• Leaves and head become pale green; leaves wilt; slimy rot develops in stem, leaves, and head. Bacterial soft rot is caused by Erwinia bacteria. Water-soaked spots appear on leaves and roots; spots enlarge and turn dark and mushy. Black ooze develops in cracks in roots and stems. Rot can not be cured. Collect and burn infected plants Promote good drainage by adding aged compost and organic materials to planting beds. Avoid over-head watering. Rotate crops.

• Bolting; plants flower and go to seed. Cabbage will bolt prematurely if plants are exposed to 20 or more days with temperatures below 50°F; this can happen with cabbage planted to over winter. Protect young plants from cold; use horticultural cloth or cloches when temperatures are low. Don’t plant too early.

• Plants do not set heads or heading is poor. Overcrowding or dry soil. Give cabbage plenty of room to spread out; this will aid heading. Keep plants evenly moist.

• Leaves are pitted. Blowing soil particles can pit leaves and cause wart-like projections the size of a pinhead. Protect plants from blowing soil and sand with floating row covers or use windbreaks in large gardens.

• Margins of internal leaves turn brown. Tipburn is caused when leaves do not take up enough water. This can happen if there is a calcium deficiency in the soil. Test soil. Maintain consistent and even soil moisture. Mulch and cultivate only shallowly during drought. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0, add limestone which contains calcium if the pH is below 6.0.

• Heads split and crack. Too much water; too much nitrogen. Keep plants evenly moist; avoid wetting and drying soil. Do not overwater. If plants go dry, apply water slowly at first. Prune roots to slow uptake of water and slow growth; do this by turning the head a half turn to break off some of the roots and slow growth. Feed plants will aged compost; avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Harvest plants when they are mature; do not allow them to sit too long in the garden.

Cabbage Growing Success Tips:

Planting. Grow cabbage in full sun in cool weather. Plant cabbage in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to the planting bed in advance of planting. Cabbage is most easily grown from transplants which are better able to withstand pests and disease. For small heads, space cabbage about 12 inches apart and harvest as soon as heads are the size of a softball. For larger heads, space plants from 18 to 24 inches apart.

Planting time. Cabbage is a cool-weather crop that grows best in spring and fall, when temperatures average between 60° and 70°F. Cabbage grows best when it comes to maturity in cool weather; however, long periods of temperatures below 50°F will cause cabbage to flower and go to seed. Grow cabbage in summer in cool-summer regions and in winter in mild-winter regions. Start cabbage indoors as early as 7 to 9 weeks before the last average frost date in spring; set transplants into the garden 1 to 3 weeks before the average last frost date. For a fall crop, set cabbage transplants in the garden 6 weeks before the first average frost date in fall; sow seed for a fall crop 12 weeks before the first hard frost.

Care. Keep cabbage evenly moist. Avoid allowing the soil to dry out; dry and wet and dry and wet periods will cause cabbage heads to either not grow well or to split and crack. Side dress cabbage with compost tea as soon as heads start to form; cabbage requires a steady supply of nitrogen. Rotate cabbage family crops on a regular basis; cabbage family crops share many of the same soilborne diseases. Use floating row covers to keep cabbage pests away from crops early in the growing season.

Harvest. Cabbage is ready for harvest as soon as heads are about the size of a softball and firm. A firm head to ready for harvest. Leafy cabbage such as napa cabbages and Asian cabbages can be cut when leaves are about 12 inches tall.

More tips: How to Grow Cabbage.

Comments

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    • Dark spots on older leaves can be a sign of alternaria leaf blight; the spots will look like target rings. Remove infected leaves. Browning of cabbage leaves may also be a sign of a calcium deficiency and lack of water uptake; add calcium to the soil and maintain even soil moisture.

  1. I bought a napa cabbage seedling from a plant sale. I’m not sure the climate is suitable, so I’ve not replanted it in a bigger pot. At first it grew fast, then the outer leaves turned yellow and now are wilted, while the inner leaves look fine. What went wrong?

    I had moved this small pot to different spots of my garden to see where it grows the best.

    • The cabbage is a cool weather crop; it will grow best in spring and fall. If the weather grows too warm, cabbage is likely to do poorly. You will want to allow cabbage 60 days of temperatures in the 60sF–not warmer. If you have run out of cool weather, you may want to try again in late summer or fall. If the weather is cool and you believe temperature is not the problem, yellowing leaves can be cause by either downy mildew or a disease called cabbage yellows; the controls for these disease are minimal–begin by using a fresh planting soil.

  2. i planted multiple cabbage broccoli and cauliflower plants in raised beds only afew weeks ago, and something has eaten all outside leaves on every plant. i cant see any pests on them, would anybody know what it is likely to be and if so best course of action.

    • Sounds like earwigs, snails, of slugs which feed at night and hide during the day. Remove any dark spots where these pests can hide during the day. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your plants as a barrier or look for an organic bait such as Sluggo-Plus.

  3. I bought some cabbage starters and some are going to seed prior to producing! Can i cut off the seeds and will it still produce?

    • Once your cabbage plant has gone to seed, you are best to start anew. If you have an open-pollinated plant, you can harvest the seed for a new crop. The leaves of leafy crops that bolt and go to seed will be bitter tasting.

    • You can plant any crop in the same location multiple times in a year or years in a row as long as you renew the nutrients in the soil often and as long as no disease or insect infestation is found. Renew the soil at least twice a year by adding an inch or more of aged compost to the planting bed; this will renew nutrients that are sapped by a crop. Crop rotation in home gardens is only necessary if you do not renew the soil nutrients–then plant crops that use differing nutrients–and if no disease or insect infestation is found. Once disease to a particular crop family is found, it would be best to plant the next crop of plants from that family in a new location.

    • Cabbage head rot can be caused by bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi can get entrance to the plant as the result of insect feeding or disease. Remove infected heads and harvest the rest of the crop as soon as possible. Rid the garden of bacteria and fungi by cleaning crop debris away often. Rots can result from poor soil drainage; add plenty of aged compost to your planting beds. Also look for crop varieties that are disease resistant.

        • Thanks for reading Harvest to Table! Keep us posted on future cabbage crops. Plant cabbage for spring harvest in the next 6 to 10 weeks–choose a 70 plus days to maturity variety.

  4. Hello,
    We live in South Louisiana and my daughter is growing a cabbage as a school project. We planted the cabbage a few days after receiving Ina part of our yard that would receive the most light. It seemed to do well for about 3 weeks. The other day we found it very wilted. We watered and about a day or two it seemed to come back to life. Well the day after it has wilted again and we are not sure what the problem is. We have not received any rain for some timeso we were not sure if the perhaps the ground is dry even though we watering and the top soil does not feel dry. We also didn’t want to over water it either. Any suggestions?

    • Watering your crop on a daily basis will be necessary until the plants are well-rooted, meaning the roots have grown deep enough to tap the reservoir of soil moisture several inches below the garden surface. Check your plants daily and water until they no longer wilt each day.

  5. My cabbage was doing great with heads about 5″ then the top became soft and slimy? Friends came by yesterday with a dog and a pet fox! Could they have done something? Like urinate on them? They were so beautiful but now, yuck! Thanks you, I still have a few not affected! I live in lower Alabama.

    • Im im Lesotho. Cool season starts March and spring starts september. I planted a cabbage variety called Conquistador. It normally forms round heads and I transplated in April. Its mid August now and the heads developing are cone shaped and not round heads. Cause of the problem?

  6. My cabbage are flowering instead of producing heads. Should I throw it away? Or does it still have a chance to form the heads?

    • Your cabbage has gone to seed; the plant is putting its energy into seed production now and has moved into its final stages of growth and life. The leaves may still be edible but they will become increasing bitter. Unless you plant to save the seed, it’s time for you to now move on to the next crop.

    • Tiny holes in cabbage family leaves usually means flea beetles are snacking. The flea beetle leaves a sort of shot hole effect on leaves. Look closely and see if you can spot these tiny black beetles. Sticky traps are one control–brush the leaves and the beetles will jump and become stuck on the traps. Garlic spray will deter beetles from feeding. You can also spray with a spinosad insecticide.

  7. Every time i plant my cabbage seeds i find out that the leaves have been chopped off or probably chewed after two weeks. what’s the problem?

    • Many insects and animal pests enjoy eating young plants. You can protect your seedlings by excluding pests from the growing beds. A floating row cover tucked in around the bed will work. You can also protect young seedlings with a homemade cloche–cut the bottom out of a plastic milk jug and bury the edges in the soil. You can leave the cap off to allow for ventilation. This should exclude slugs and snails and caterpillars. If your seedlings are being sheared off at the soil level, look in the soil for cutworms–remove them, and them put your cloche in place.

  8. My cabbage was doing forming the cabbage head nice and pretty we’ve been getting a lot of rain then all of a sudden cabbage collapsed all the leaves are laying flat on the ground now you know what might have happened

    • Cabbage head failure can happen when plants that are developing heads suddenly take up a lot of water. The pressure of the enlarging leaves will cause the heads to crack or split. The uptake of water that caused the heads to fail was likely due to the rain. The same thing can happen if the soil is dry and then is very wet due to irrigation. If rain is regular in your region, plant cabbage in raised beds that drain well, and you can protect the beds by laying plastic on them when heavy rains are predicted–then the water will run off to the side of the bed.

  9. Our cabbage was beautiful last year. This year we have what looks like a grey dust all over them! Then the “dust” moved over to our flourishing broccoli plants! I left a bag of picked broccoli on the counter in the kitchen last night and woke up to the “dust” crawling all over the counter top this morning! What are these bugs? And most importantly, I need to know if it is safe for us to eat the food (broccoli / cabbage)? Can the bugs be killed by soaking the food in vinegar or something else? If the food is no longer safe for human consumption, is it safe to feed the plants to our chickens with the live bugs on them? thanks for all the info!!

    • It sounds like either gray aphids–which will strike cabbage plants when the temperature is just right, either at the beginning or end of the season. Or it may be whiteflies. Either pest can be washed away with a heavy stream of water. Insecticidal soap may or my not work. Your chickens will not be harmed by these insects–they are full of protein. If you clean the leaves with water, you can eat the cabbage also–if you can get the sight of the infestation out of mind.

    • Round-head cabbage just nibbled by rabbits will produce new leaves. Round-head cabbage nearly eaten to the ground–an inch or two remaining–will produce a cluster of secondary heads, but the secondary heads will be much smaller than the original head. If round-head cabbage was eaten to the soil level, new secondary heads will grow, but the growth may be mostly below the soil level and will require a good washing before you eat it. If you are growing Chinese cabbage with elongated heads, new leaves will quickly reappear.

  10. My cabbage plant did really well inside. When I planted it outside it died with yellow leaves. Then I dug it up and a lot of worms was in the dirt. What shall I do now. Can this plant be saved?

    • There may be a few reason your cabbage plant has yellowing leaves: (1) A cabbage seedling can suffer if exposed too early in its life to very cold or very warm temperatures; don’t set out cabbage seedlings until they are 6 to 8 weeks old; you may have to pot them up into a larger container before planting them out–to allow for root growth; (2) too much or too little water can cause cabbage leaves to yellow–try to keep the soil just moist; avoid over-watering and don’t let the roots go dry; (3) if the worms in the soil are not earthworms–they may not be worms but instead they may be root eating grubs, the larvae of insects pests; roots damaged by feeding grubs will result in an interruption in the uptake of water and nutrients and can cause leaves to yellow. You might take up the plant and set it in a container with fresh potting soil to see if it will recover.

  11. i am growing my cabbage in a green house using a drip irrigation system. it is three months now but the heads are not quite forming well. the ones i transplanted outside are forming faster and got bigger heads than the ones in the green house. please what can be the cause

    • You may need to do a bit of detective work to determine why your greenhouse-grown cabbage is lagging behind the outdoor cabbage in head development: (1) most important is the delivery of nutrients; could the soil outdoors be richer in nutrients? Cabbage head development relies on a rich supply of nitrogen; use an even 10-10-10 organic fertilizer is best; (2) temperatures too warm; head development is slowed by temperatures greater than 70F–air temperatures 60-65F are optimal; (3) too much or too little water; water stress will inhibit head development; (4) overcrowding; planting cabbage too close can stress plants and inhibit head development.

  12. My cabbage leaves are big but refeused to curl into heads. the cabbage is about 3 months old. Can i harvest the leaves only since they have refused to form heads. planting is outdoor in the tropics.

    • Cabbage commonly heads in the days just before maturity; if you have reached the number of days to maturity for the variety you are growing then the warm weather may be inhibiting head formation. The leaves should still be edible. Harvest them younger not older. Also harvest cut-and-come again; that is remove the outer leaves and allow the inner leaves to continue to grow.

        • Cabbage seeds will germinate and begin growing at their own pace–the way of nature. If you are worried that your seedlings will be ready for transplanting before freezing weather has lifted, plan to protect them under row covers or a plastic tunnel when you set them in the garden.

    • There may be a few reasons the cabbage leaves are turning white: (1) sunburn or high temperatures–place a frame around the plants and drape shade cloth over the frame; (2) too much water–keep the soil just moist; (3) too little nitrogen in the soil–feed the plants with an all-purpose organic fertilizer, 5-5-5 or 10-10-10.

  13. Hello, I’m not sure if anyone is still updating this thread but I have a question. I am a first time grower and planted broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts from seed. After they were strong enough, I transplanted them and they were do My fantastic. Then overnight, the leaves off a majority of the plants were demolished. I have sprayed with BT and removed any caterpillars I find. I was wondering if there is any hope for the plants to bounce back? It’s been 2-3 weeks since the infestation and, while there has been no sign of insect activity, none of the plants are producing leaves. If anyone can help me with this, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you

    • Given that the plants have not bounced back, it is probably time to replant. When you sow seed or set out transplants of these cool-season crops you can protect them from insects by placing a floating row cover over the planting bed. Make sure the edges are secure so that pest don’t sneak in. Exclusion is the best preventative when it comes to insect pests.

  14. I am new to gardening. I have a lovely new raised bed and one red cabbage is doing really well. The other 2 are dying and wilting and not growing. Any ideas? It’s all in the same compost – which has aged manure in it too. It’s recently rained an awful lot. It’s in quite a sunny position but the garden is north facing and it’s not in sun all day.

    • There are many reasons lettuce does not thrive: (1) weather too hot, (2) too much or too little water, (3) too much fertilizer. Any of these could be the problem given your description of the situation. If your planting bed gets the sun in the morning, the temperature may not be the problem. Fungal diseases can cause damping-off of young seedlings and root rot; this may have happened as a result of the rain. Sometimes it is survival of the fittest in the garden. One plant made it the others did not. Plant again.

  15. My red cabbage produced beautiful heads. When I cut into it there are black streaks running throughout the thick parts of the leaf and some black spots on other parts of the leaves. It is not soft or smelly. Is it safe to eat?

    • The black spots you see could be related to either bacterial or fungal leaf or root rot. Cut out the black sections and the other sections of the leaves should be ok to eat; however, if you suspect the soil may have been contaminated by herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals don’t eat the cabbage.

  16. Hi Steve, My cabbage seedlings have a white marks underneath the leaves and on top in the same area has gone a pale green/ yellow colour and are crinkled up.

    Is it aphids or perhaps a fungus. I cant find a photo similar on the internet to compare.

    Thank you.

    • Your description of the problem sounds like the work of sucking insects such as aphids, whiteflies, or leafhoppers. When they suck sap and chlorophyll from a leaf they will leave it light green or white and puckered. Rinse both sides of the leaves with a slight spray of water. If the insects are present this will knock them off. You can also use an insecticidal soap.

  17. Hi my cabbage is not round yet. It has big outer leaves. When are the big outer leaves ready to be eaten? Can I cut them before the round cabbage head form? And there are baby cabbages at the bottom. How do I make sure they grow bigger? Thanks so much for your help.

    • You can eat cabbage leaves at any time. You will find them more tender and flavorful younger rather than older. Cabbage does not need to form a head to be edible. The small cabbages will never grow to the size of the main head; they may grow to the size of a baseball. Again you can eat them at any time.

    • The white is likely powdery or downy mildew which are fungal diseases. Spray the plants with an organic fungicide. Safer Brand or Garden Safe are two companies that make fungicides for vegetables.

    • Your young cabbage plants may be stressed; shield them from bright, hot sunlight until they are 6 to 8 inches tall; keep the soil just moist, not wet and never dry; protect the plants from drying wind; feed them with dilute fish emulsion solution.

    • If the variety you are growing is open-pollinated, you can allow the flowers to dry and save the seed for planting again in the fall or early next spring. If the plant is a hybrid, you can lift it and put it in the compost pile. Use the space to plant a warm-season crop.

  18. I’m a novice with cabbages. Planted 3 under a fine mesh cloche – two are doing great but the middle one must’ve been planted with Cabbage Fly eggs as is now being eaten. I thought I’d removed them all but many more holes today! (No sign of the worms though. Am going to put oil/soy sauce trap in the bed in case the culprits are earwigs.) That particular cabbage also has dark green, algae-like stuff all around its central, (forming) head? It almost resembles fish roe (eggs)? Can’t find any info on this?

    • Your description of the dark green roe-like eggs sounds like a heavy infestation of aphids. Use a steady stream of water to wash the leaves to remove the infestation. If you are convinced it is not an insect infestation it could be a fungal disease. Spray the plants with an all-purpose horticultural oil–this will kill insects and fungi.

  19. I sowed my cabbage seeds on 25th june covered it with grass-shade, lifted the shade after 5days and removed it completely after 14days. But i found out the seedlings have grown tall and weak, now they’re turning yellowish, few are developing light/partial transparent leaves even though i’m watering them. Will they ever improve again?

    • It is likely the shade was too dense; this has caused the seedlings to stretch for light leaving then tall and weak. Use a light row cover to shade the plants; place the cover on hoops so that it does not sit directly on the seedlings. Give the plants a watering with dilute fish emulsion and sow new seed in another bed just in case the first crop fails.

  20. My cabbages were planted 9/25 and have been looking great until I noticed 2 days ago a pinkish hue on the veins of the leaves and the edges of some leaves. Heads forming nicely and today is 10/14. What is wrong with my cabbages?

    • If temperatures are dipping at night, the reddish hue may be a reaction to temperature. Place a floating row cover over the plants and feed them a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days. If the reddish begins to look like a powdery mold, it is a fungal disease.

  21. I harvested a mature cabbage head. When I cut the head from the stem, there was a hollow black hole. I kept cutting to the unaffected part of the head. What is this and is this ok to eat, since I cut away the affected part?

    • Darkened and girdled areas of the stem near the soil line occur when cabbage is infected with Rhizoctonia–a soilborne fungal disease. This is a rot that cannot be controlled; it commonly spreads upward through the stem into the head of the cabbage. Remove and destroy infected plants. Avoid planting cabbage in the same spot. Pasteurize the soil via solarization.

  22. My cabbage saplings are 3-4week old. Their growth seems to be stunted. They have just developed two pseudo leaves(cotyledons) in the last 2-3 weeks. Most of the saplings ain’t developing new leaves and they eventually die out. What could be the reason? Please help since I am very concerned.

    • Low or high temperatures (depending upon where you are) are a likely cause of slow growth. If you are in the northern hemisphere, short daylight (less than 12 hours per day) is another cause of slow growth this time of year. Protect the seedlings from cold–less than 50F–under row covers or a plastic tunnel. Feed the seedlings a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days. If the seedlings are still indoors make sure they get 14 hours of light each day beneath a fluorescent light. Outdoors growth should resume in mid-January when days grow longer.

  23. Dear Sir,

    Thanx for this information!

    I’ve looked around the internet for answers to a problem this year in my cabbage growing.
    One of the plants started getting a gray rot at the base of the leaf stem about 2 inches off the ground (above the 2nd row of leaves). The rest of the plant looks great.

    So I cut off that leaf and cut around the stem to ‘excise’ all the rot.
    But it came back and a week later it began rotting into the stem and other leaves.
    That ‘illness’ began draining energy from the plant, so I cut the head and cut off all the bad spots but left the remainder in the ground. The head was about the size of a softball and tasted great (although it was beginning to lost its dark green color).

    I’ve grown cabbage 3 years in a row and never encountered this.
    The main problem I have is cabbage worms from various kinds of butterflies and moths, which I use Thuracide bacteria to take remedy when I foliar feed.
    I do not use any chemicals on this cabbage patch, and only use organic chicken manure and grass minerals (bought from Ace).

    Any ideas what may be causing this?

    Thanx…Chris

    • The problem may be Rhizoctonia, a fungal disease, which can cause rot on the stem near the soil line and in turn will cause plants to be weak and cabbage heads to be small. This disease cannot be controlled. It lives in the soil so solarizing the soil is the best organic solution; also, pasteurize the soil used to raise seedlings. Also avoid overhead irrigation which can sometimes spread fungal diseases; water at the base of plants.

  24. First time growing cabbages. I’ve sprayed the outer and underside leaves with a mixture of oil, water and dish soap to stop bugs eating outer leaves and now leaves have black spots on, is this a reaction to the spray ?

    • The black spots could be a reaction to the spray or the start of bacterial or fungal leaf spots. Check your spray solution to be sure it is not too strong; test sprays on a leaf or two before spraying the entire plant. Make sure the plants are getting 8 plus hours of sunlight each day. Spray in the morning so that the moisture evaporates before sunset.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

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