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Choosing Cabbage Varieties to Grow

Cabbage flavor is important when choosing which cabbage variety to plant.
Cabbage varieties
Cabbage flavor is important when choosing which cabbage variety to plant.

Choose cabbage varieties for planting based on the flavor you want to serve–and where you live.

Savoy cabbage leaves (crinkled leaves) are more pliable than smooth cabbage. They are sweet and mild flavored, easy to separate, and great to stuff and wrap. Try green winter-hardy January King (160-200 days–plant in the fall for spring harvest) or purple Alcosa (72 days).

Smooth-leafed cabbages are compact and great for cole-slaw and sauerkraut; try Early Jersey Wakefield (70 days), a small heirloom, Gonzales (66 days), a round mini-cabbage, or bright-colored Red Express (63 days).

Chinese or napa cabbage is suited for salads and stir-fries; it is long, light in color, extra tender, and mild flavored. Try Wong Bok (75 days), which is open-pollinated, or Little Jade (60 days), a mini-hybrid.

Cabbage grows best in cool weather. Plant cabbages in late summer or early fall in mild-winter regions. Plant cabbages in spring being sure there are enough days to harvest before hot weather begins.

Choose a variety suited to your region. Some cabbages, such as savoy types, can easily withstand frost and even snow. All cabbages are sweet after a morning frost. Hot weather will cause nearly all cabbages to flower and become tough and bitter.

Cabbage is slow growing. Interplant cabbage with quick-growing leaf lettuce or quick growing cole crops such as kohlrabi or turnips. Mature size can be controlled by spacing. Plant cabbages close together for small heads.

Cabbages can be harvested cut-and-come-again style (harvesting a few leaves as needed) or cut the mature head from the stalk, leaving the stem and perhaps outer leaves in place—these plants may rehead or produce several small new heads in a few weeks.

Almost all cabbage varieties keep at least a few weeks in the refrigerator.

More tips at How to Grow Cabbage.

More tips: Planting Cabbage in Your Garden.


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