Cabbage Farming Tips – Become A Successful Cabbage Farmer
Cabbage is one of the all-season vegetable that never lacks a market. Regardless of the time of the year you produce it, you will find a heavy demand for it with the only downside being the varying sale price. Cabbage is also easy to grow and delicious to eat for a majority of people across the world.
This cool weather crop comes in many varieties, from Primax to Gonzales, Chinese cabbage (e.g. bok choy) and even the ornamental cabbages. You will therefore find a variety that is perfectly suited for your farm’s weather conditions.
With the various cabbage varieties, you can choose to either buy seedlings from a local supplier near you, or you can buy seeds from your local seeds outlets and plant them. When planting the cabbage, especially for those in frost prone areas, ensure that you sow the seeds at least 4 weeks before the expected frost date. You should sow these seeds a ¼ inch deep, and 2 inches apart in a well covered/protected space, preferably indoors.
When the seedlings have 3 leaves, you can then transplant them and plant them outdoors. You can plant them under other tall plants like corn so that they get shade from the hot sun or mulch them and keep the soil evenly moist.
Wider spacing of cabbage ensures that it produces bigger heads although young and smaller cabbages are sweeter. A spacing of between 6-12 inches apart is ideal. If you want to have longer harvests, stagger your planting 2 weeks apart. This two week interval ensures that you have mature, ready to harvest cabbage for a prolonged period of time.
With cabbage, soil texture is not such an important aspect. However, early cabbages perform better if planted on sandy loam soils while the later types do well in heavier soils that retain more water. You should also ensure that you side-dress your seedlings with compost that is rich in nutrients about 3 weeks after planting them. While at it, make sure you weed these crops by hand, pulling off the weeds with your hands to avoid damaging their weak and shallow roots.
A good note about watering the cabbage crops is that uneven watering is dangerous to your crop. It can lead to a sudden growth spurt. This sudden growth makes the developing cabbage head to split. Should you notice signs of cracking in your cabbage, simply twist your cabbage plant a ½ turn and pull it up slightly. This dislodges the plant’s roots a bit thus slowing the plant’s growth avoiding a complete split. Alternatively, you can use a garden spade to cut the roots in 1 or 2 places about 6 inches below the stem. Doing this also helps to prevent the cabbage plant from producing a flower stalk, a process called bolting.
Avoid wetting your crops in the cold weather season or in times of high humidity. This is because wet leaves are more prone to diseases and pests. Again, as the cabbage matures, cut back on the water. Should you notice yellowing of leaves, boost the plants with nitrogen (for instance with compost tea). This not only helps the plants to stop yellowing, but also encourages a slow growing plant to mature before the hot weather or extreme cold weather hits.
Cabbage plants are prone to pests and diseases. Some of the common pests include cabbage maggots, cutworms, cabbage loopers and imported cabbage worms. There is also the harlequin bug which is notorious for causing wilting and black spots on leaves. It is a black shiny insect that has some red markings. You may also have problems with slugs which may chew holes on to the cabbage leaves.
A common disease on cabbage is the black leg which is a fungal disease characterized by dark spots on the stems and leaves of your cabbage. There is also black rot characterized by foul-smelling black veins. There is also club root that prevents your cabbage plants from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil.
You may also notice yellow leaves and stunted heads on your crop. This is as a result of a disease called Fusarium wilt. All plants affected by this disease should be removed and destroyed to avoid its spread. For club root, test your soil pH before planting and if need be, add ground limestone to raise this pH to at least 6.8.
Best practices to avoid these problems would be to practice crop rotation while also using seeds and seedlings that are resistant to diseases. Remember to also clean up your garden thoroughly after a harvest to make sure that you remove all the remnant roots and leaves.
While your cabbage heads are firm, use a sharp knife to cut them off. Leave the stalks and roots in place so that they can produce some other little cabbages that are very sweet. You can eat these like Brussels sprouts or leave them to grow in to a second crop which usually has a smaller head.
Remember fresh cabbage has the best taste and you should ensure that you consume it or have your harvest/produce reach the market the fastest possible.
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