Growing Mini Cabbage

Latest Update 11th July 2016.

Mini Cabbage

  • I grow mini Cabbages, because they don't dominate the Garden Ecobed as much as the full sized varieties.  They are very crisp and sweet when harvested and are a great size for 2 people.  
  • Most months I sow 5 seeds and usually get a 100% germination rate in my Propagator.
  • I grow the best 3 in a 1500mm row across an Ecobed (about a months supply). 
  • I harvest mini cabbages as needed in the kitchen and prepare the soil in the space left by its removal.   This process takes a few weeks as the soil is left to regain fertility.
  • Apart from the few weeks lost regenerating soil in these gaps, the whole Ecobed is kept occupied growing plants.  I germinate more seeds than I need, but rarely have prepared soil waiting for seedlings.
  • These mini cabbages are surprisingly tasty and are very nutritious containing lots of vitamins and minerals, and are a great source of dietary fibre.
  • They are best shredded and used fresh in homemade coleslaw, or lightly steamed with salt, pepper and some garden herbs.  
Description.
  • Binomial Name:                                            Brassica oleracea.
  • Family:                                                         Brassicaceae.
  • Variety:                                                         Mini Cabbage.
  • Crop Rotation Group:                                     Heavy Feeders.
  • Garden Bed Type:                                          Garden Ecobed.
  • Plant Spacings:                                              500mm. (3 per row)
  • Recommended pH:                                        6.0 - 7.5.
  • Minimum sun per day:                                    4 hours.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                          18 weeks.
  • Good Companions:                                        Beans, beetroot, sage, onion, nasturtium.
  • Climate:                                                        Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                                   Southern hemisphere. 
Nutrition.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. 
  • It is a good source of thiamin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate and manganese. 
  • More from nutrition data.self.com.
Growing Conditions:
  • They grow best in full sun in cooler months, and need light shade in high summer to prevent bolting.
  • Cabbages prefer well structured firm soil containing plenty of organic material.
  • Extra shading is used in very hot weather (over 40 deg C) using 75% shadecloth.
  • The soil must be kept moist at all times.
Soil Preparation. 
  • In Summer, clear space for Cabbage and apply a 60mm layer of thermal compost followed by a 50mm layer of fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave the bed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity before planting the first crop.
Growing Instructions.
  • Sow 5 Cabbage seeds In January on the surface of an organic seed growing mix in a mini pot, and lightly cover.
  • Soak the mini pot for an hour in a tray containing 10mm of water (preferably rainwater).  The water will wick up into the soil without flooding it. 
  • Sink the mini pots up to their rim in a Propagator.  The seedlings will be protected and kept supplied with water until they are ready to transplant. 
  • After 4 weeks the seedlings are re-potted into jiffy pots filled with organic potting mix and returned to the Propagator.
  • After a further 4 weeks, a space is cleared in the mulch so the seedlings can be planted.
  • Select the strongest 3 seedlings and plant them at 500mm centres in the prepared soil.  Water them in generously.
  • A foliar spray of aerated compost tea is applied every 4 weeks at the same time as all the other edible plants.
  • Earth up the stems as the Cabbages grow.
  • Fit a layer of 75% shadecloth on top of the Ecobed's pest exclusion frame to limit wilting and bolting of your cabbages in the warmer months (Dec to Feb).
Repeat sowings.
  • Repeat sowings can be made every month in gaps left by plants recently harvested.  make sure the soil in these gap has been properly prepared.
Harvesting and Storage.
  • Cabbages can be harvested all year round.
  • Cut the stalk at ground level when harvesting your cabbage.  Leave the roots to decompose in the ground. 
  • If you have a surplus of cabbage, try sauerkraut, stored in preserving jars.  Here's how.
Organic Pest Control.
  • Slugs and snails.
    • Cabbages should be protected against slugs and snails using self adhesive copper tape bonded around the base of your Ecobeds.
    • If these molluscs get into your Ecobed as eggs laid in your compost, kill them with organically approved iron based snail pellets as soon as you discover them.  You should only need to use a small number of pellets.
  • Cabbage white butterfly caterpillars.
    • The best deterrent for caterpillars is exclusion netting.  My Ecobeds have built-in frames and attachments for easy mounting of exclusion netting.
    • If the butterfies get past your defences, spray the crop thoroughly with Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel in Australia)  This natural soil dwelling bacterium once ingested by the caterpillars produces toxins which paralyse the caterpillar's digestive sytem causing it to stop feeding.  It dies within a few days.
  • Greenhouse whitefly.
    • Aerated compost tea strengthens the plants foliage against whitefly damage.  
    • Exclusion netting is effective against whitefly but they are very small and will occasionally breach your defences, so you will need to check your crop regularly. 
    • Control any infestations by spray your crop thoroughly with organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia).
    • Spray again in a few days to ensure second generation whitefly do not survive.
  • Aphids (greenfly).
    • Use the same method described above for whitefly using Eco-oil.
  • Root knot nematodes.
    • 4 year crop rotation plan is the best cure for root knot nematode.  They do not prosper when their host plant is removed to another bed, and after 4 years, their effectiveness as a plant pathogen is substantially reduced.
  • General:
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of plants by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plants roots against plant pathogens.
    • Exclusion netting stops birds digging up worms in your Ecobed, and takes the edge off hot sunshine with a 20% shade factor.