Starting the Cabbage
The first thing of course is the seed. I use “Daneli Seeds, Anchorage”, which has a cabbage called OS Hybrid Cross. We grow much larger cabbages in Alaska because of the long, long hrs of daylight…20 hrs of direct sun in June! I think they will grow well anywhere it has cool summers as it’s the heat that makes cabbage go bad quicker. In southern areas you would have to start to grow it as a winter crop. Check out Daneli Seeds website if you want all your friends to say…”Wow, that’s a big cabbage!”.
I start my cabbage indoors early. Around 8 weeks before snow melts. The trick to making them bigger is to “Pot em Up” and do it often! Don’t use any fertilizers or manures in the pots and use a sand and peat moss mixture. The idea is to grow a lot of support roots first indoors. If the leaves get too big early, they are harder to transplant outside later. This year I had mine in 14″ plastic pots when they go to ground. Use a very little, ¼ teaspoon/gallon, of (8-30-18) Miracle Grow in every drink of water when they are small to keep them hunting for root food. To do that they grow a lot of roots!
Cabbage Bed Preparation
I always prepare my cabbage bed in the fall for next year. That way it’s ready to go as soon as I can loosen the ground up again come warm spring days. I dig a nice deep hole and mix in a gracious amount of peat moss, a pail of sand (if soil is heavy remove some before mixing), 2 cups bone meal, 4-6 cups of composted steer manure, 2 cups wood ashes, a couple heaping tablespoons of Epsom salt (Magnesium) & powdered milk (calcium), maybe a little lime. Then ad some small rocks, sticks, & bark just to keep the soil from packing down to tight in summer as you will have to use a lot of water. Consider a small temporary hothouse over the naked bed to warm the earth when the air is still cold. This will help give them a better start.
Planting the Cabbage
Now its time to plant the beasts! When you dig the hole for the pot make sure and put a pail of hot water in the bottom of the hole and let it soak in. This wets & warms the soil down under the bottom of the new plant. This way, when you set the cabbage down it nestles into warm, wet, loose soil. Now the roots will have a lot of strength and mass to attack this new hole full of goodies. After planting, I end up with a lot of extra soil. So I make a nice big water moat around the cabbage with it. When it really grows out 3′ to 4′ across, you can’t get underneath it anymore but you want the water to go down. That’s why I surround the new plant with a 3-foot wide circle ridge moat for watering.
Cabbages will take a gallon of water on a hot day when fully growing. The largest I have grown is 58 pounds in 2009. Last year, the biggest was only 41 pounds and vole attacked!
When it’s all watered and settled sprinkle a good cup of wood ashes around the new stem and nearby. This helps with bugs early when plants are at first weaker. Then I sprinkle Blood meal around in the moat off and on all summer, as it’s a quick nitrogen fix. I also use a little composted manure soaked in the water can and generous amount of fish emulsion in the summer watering. Fish is a slower acting fertilizer but cabbages seem to love it!
I hope this helps you to grow a giant cabbage in your garden! This recipe for a big cabbage will work well with all leaf crops, but don’t use it on other veggies or flowers. You would get a lot of stalk and no flower or fruit if too much nitrogen is used. But let me tell you…cabbages love it! Get them planted EARLY!!