Apr Wk3

The cabbage is one of the most traditional of European food plants. In the past it had acquired a sad reputation as boarding house food that used to be boiled until it became soggy and grey. Nowadays we know that by cooking cabbage lightly – or slicing raw cabbage into salads – it can become gourmet fare.

Yates has three European-style cabbages in its seed range. Racer Drumhead is a fast-maturing variety that produces large, solid heads. Sugarloaf is a conical, mild-flavoured cabbage that grows quickly and is ready for harvest in as little as 8 weeks

Eureka is a sweet-tasting variety with firm, light green leaves. Bred in Australia for our conditions, disease-resistant Eureka has a tightly-packed, crisp head that can be sliced and eaten raw.

Sow Sugarloaf and Eureka cabbage seeds into pots of Yates Black Magic Seed Raising Mix. They can be sown direct into the garden bed, but it’s safer to start them in pots where conditions are easier to control. One of the main advantages of sowing from seed is that you can put in few seeds at one time, then make follow up sowings (either through autumn or in spring, depending on your climate.)

These days our idea of cabbages has considerably broadened, as it now includes the Chinese-style cabbages. Full-headed Wombok and white-stemmed Buk Choy are found in Yates seed packets. Cultivation is similar to that for European cabbages, but it’s particularly important to keep Chinese cabbages growing steadily, with an even supply of moisture in the soil (mulch well) and plenty of fertiliser. Nitrogen-rich, fast-releasing liquids like Thrive Soluble are the best to choose for feeding. Any check in growth will cause the plants to rush to seed, which spoils the flavour of the leaves. For this reason, too, it’s best if Chinese cabbages can be sown direct into the garden bed. If you have to start them off in pots, make sure they’re transplanted very carefully.

All cabbages need full sun and well-drained soil. Before planting, dig in some complete fertiliser (Blood & Bone, Dynamic Lifter pellets or Thrive Granular All Purpose). When the seedlings are in place, water with a liquid fertiliser such as Thrive Soluble or Nature’s Way Fish Emulsion. Some Yates Nature’s Way Seaweed Booster will help get the roots growing well.

Cabbage pests

All the members of the cabbage family are much loved by caterpillars. There are two main villains. The cabbage white butterfly has whitish wings that are marked with black blotches. Its voracious green caterpillar eats the leaves – very obviously – from the outside. The caterpillar of the cabbage moth is sneakier – it tends to munch in the centre of the cabbage. Fortunately there are some low toxic, effective controls. Yates Nature’s Way Derris Dust comes in an easy-to-apply shaker pack. Yates Success is a modern, low toxic insecticide that enters into the leaves, where it stays waiting for any grubs to arrive.

Watch, too, for cabbage aphids. Yates Nature’s Way Insect & Mite Spray will control these.


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