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Cabbage, how to grow it and different varieties


Cabbage is a vegetable that comes in many varieties and is very easy to grow.

Cabbage Patch Facts

Type – biennial vegetable

Exposure – full sun
Soil – Cool, deep, moist and rich
Harvest – All year round depending on the variety

Special care, from sowing and planting to harvesting, will help you get magnificent cabbage.

Sowing and planting cabbage

How to sow and transplant cabbageCabbage comes in different varieties and each requires specific growing conditions and planting times.

Headed cabbage (like white or savoy cabbage), Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, here is how to grow them all.

If you choose and sow different varieties, you’ll be able to harvest cabbage from spring until the end of winter.

Headed cabbage

Sow headed cabbage at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring in a nursery.

Savoy and white cabbage can be started before kale.

  • Sow as early as February/March in a nursery, sprinkling the seeds in a tray.
  • You can also sow directly in the ground in March or April under a cold frame or a tunnel greenhouse.
  • As soon as the first leaves appear, you can transplant them in the ground from February until August.
  • Here are all the tips on savoy cabbage, kale.


Growing cauliflower takes much longer, since it needs nearly 7 months from seed to harvest.

  • Sow in March and April in a sheltered place to harvest in fall.
  • Sow in May directly in the ground to harvest in winter.
  • Here are all the tips on growing cauliflower.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are generally sown at the end of winter or in spring in a sheltered place.

  • Sowing can start in a nursery in March, and seedlings are transplanted to the ground in May.
  • Planting usually takes place in May or June.
  • Here are all the tips on how to grow Brussels sprouts.


  • The first broccoli cabbage of the season are called early broccoli, and can be sown in a sheltered place as early as March, for a harvest from August to September.
  • For direct sowing, though, wait for the last frost spells to have subsided, which means planting in May or June.
  • Here are all the tips on how to grow broccoli.

Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage

After sowing, how to care for cabbage

Cabbage careAs soon as seedlings have sprouted at least 3 to 4 leaves, transplant them to their target location. Protect the cabbage seedlings if you need to plant before the month of May.

  • Space plants 16 inches (40 cm) apart when transplanting.
    This space is indeed mandatory if you’re to give your plants the room to grow.
  • The soil must have been well tilled beforehand.
  • Water regularly but in a light drizzle to keep the substrate sufficiently moist.

There are various types of pests that will attack your cabbages at all stages of life. Young ones are particularly vulnerable to snails and slugs. Older ones attract females of the large white, a butterfly that lays eggs on leaves for its caterpillars to feed on.

Harvesting cabbage

Harvesting headed cabbage

Cabbage harvestHeaded cabbage, both kale or white cabbage, need a few months to grow, but this span of time is highly variable, depending on the cultivar.

Some varieties can be harvested 2 months after planting, whereas others need up to 7 months.

Wait for the head to have grown as large as a good-sized apple before harvesting your headed cabbage.

→ Tasty stuffed cabbage roll recipe with savoy cabbage

Harvesting Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts begin to ripen from the bottom up, as the main stem grows taller and taller.

You only need to break off a few of the largest tiny cabbage heads that grow along the side of it when you need a few. Don’t let get any larger than a ping-pong or golf ball, or they’ll get more and more bitter.

Harvesting cauliflower

Cauliflower can be harvested practically all year round, depending on when they were sown.

Wait for the head to form well, then slice it off at ground level.

Harvesting broccoli cabbage

Broccoli is harvested when the main head is well formed and still tightly bunched.

Cut just about 2 inches (5 cm) below the harvested head, to let your broccoli grow on: it’ll grow a few more heads. They’ll be smaller, for sure, but just as delicious!

Harvesting napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage

This takes place in fall until frost spells hit, and even winter if the climate permits (mild winters).

Slice the head off at the base with a very sharp blade.

Smart tip about cabbage

Provide your cabbage with extra nutrients (fertilizer, manure and seaweed-based compost) to boost growth and enhance your harvest!

Images: 123RF: Przemyslaw Iciak, Yuris; Pixabay: Wolfgang Eckert; shutterstock: Ksenia Vasylenko
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