I have a love-hate relationship with cabbage. They take up boatloads of room and don’t always head up. But, when they do (and aren’t riddled with holes from cabbage moth worms), they are a sight to behold and truly delicious. This means my decision on any given year to grow them depends entirely upon space. If I have some leftover room, I’ll grow anywhere from 4-8 plants. If not? I skip it.
Time to Maturity: 60-80 days. There is a cabbage for every garden and every growing zone if you’ve got the space.
Diseases & Pests: The aforementioned Cabbage Moths are a pain for everyone and resistance isn’t a thing. But there are varieties resistant to Black Rot, Clubroot, Fusarium Yellows, Flea Beetles (my OG nemesis) and Thrips.
Key Words: Drumhead means large and round. Cone-shaped means it will take up a little less space. Keep an eye out for descriptors about leaf texture, size, good wrapper leaves (keeps the pests and dirt out), and mild flavor. There are usually comments regarding keeping, I don’t find this necessary information for how we use them, but your mileage may vary.
Use: How do you like your cabbage? I like mine in slaw and roasted down either plain or as braised cabbage. Mmmm. I’ve never tried making my own sauerkraut, but if you are looking to preserve your cabbage, go straight for drumhead types to maximize your yeilds. Most descriptors will mention best use for a particular variety, so just think about how you want to utilize your harvest and pick from there.
Kalibos: This one is narrower than most so you can squeeze in a few more which is particularly helpful if space is your main concern when growing cabbage. Plus it is a gorgeous shade of purple and heads up easily. Its tasty and not too large, which is great for a smaller family (1 head makes for one meal) or someone looking to do just a little preserving (sauerkraut!).
Cour Di Bue, Caraflex F1, Early Jersey Wakefield, and Murdoc F1 are similarly shaped, but green.
What I’ve Grown in the Past:
- Perfection Drumhead Savoy: Large round cabbage with deeply wrinkled (savoyed) leaves, but a very mild cauliflower-like flavor. Its too big for me, but did taste delicious.
- Brunswick: Another large round cabbage, but known for its extreme cold hardiness. Again, too big for us, and these didn’t want to head up for me.
Other Thoughts: I’d like to try some Napa-type or Chinese cabbages. Both tend to be a bit finickier than traditional types, so I’ve not felt the need to act on my thoughts. Many will also say if you are going to grow cabbages, you’d be mad to do it without row covers. I’ve never used row covers, but my heads always look a bit worse for the wear come harvest time, so it might be a worthwhile investment if you are interested in looks and strong production.