Cabbage is one of the most common vegetables available and is used to make healthy foods, including salads and kimchi. People love cabbages due to their taste and high nutritional content, including vitamins B6, C, and D, iron, magnesium, and calcium. But you might wonder how to grow these delicious vegetables in containers.
To grow cabbages in containers, you must decide which varietal is best and select your seedlings. You should ensure your growing environment suits the plant’s needs and pick a suitable container. Ensure your increasing media is optimal, pest-free, and transplant and care for your seedlings.
Like many vegetables, you can grow cabbages in your kitchen garden in containers. It would be best to have adequate space, several containers, a growth medium, fertilizer, water, and cabbage seed, and you can begin. The following article will guide you through the process.
Also read: How To Get Seed From Cabbage Plant
There are several varieties of cabbages you can grow in containers. However, since containers have space constraints compared to fields or garden beds, you should be careful when choosing the variety you intend to grow. Some of the top choices for container planting are the following cabbage varieties:
They have curly leaves and a distinctively different taste from the other varieties. Moreover, they take around 70 days to mature. Savoy king and Savoy ace are excellent for compact spaces such as containers.
These cabbages have red or purple heads and offer several sub-varieties slightly smaller than green cabbages, making them a perfect option for container gardening. The top varieties include the red ball and ruby perfection varieties.
They are the most common variety of cabbages available. They have dark green heads and take longer than other varieties to mature. Impact varieties that thrive in containers include:
- Dutch Rio Verde
- Stonehead Cabbage
- Jersey Wakefield
- Green boy
The Chinese cabbage’s distinguishing characteristic is longer heads than other cabbage varieties and it is delicious in Chinese soups and spring rolls. These cabbages are also an excellent option for containers as they tend to grow vertically more than laterally.
Check out: How Do I Know if My Cabbage Plant Is Dying?
You can consider planting the seeds in the soil when looking to grow cabbages. However, sowing cabbage seeds in the soil exposes them to factors that may hinder germination, like pests and harsh climatic conditions. Therefore, you should use a germination kit instead since it allows you to control initial growing conditions.
Using a germination kit also allows you to prepare seedlings while other vegetables are maturing and close to harvest.
The germination kit should include a starting tray and a seed starting kit. Consider purchasing the TO Plastics 1020 Trays (available on Amazon.com). The trays have drainage holes; hence they are appropriate for outdoor use and prevent water clogs that can contribute to seed rot. In addition, the manufacturer used heavy-duty plastic, guaranteeing it can hold the weight of the starting kit, soil, and growing seedlings.
Alternatively, you can buy The Hydroponic City Seed Starter Tray (available on Amazon.com). The trays consist of 6-cells per tray at least 2 inches deep, thus guaranteeing your seedlings will have adequate space to germinate. The trays also offer value for money since they are reusable and durable.
Preparation is everything when it comes to vulnerable cabbage seedlings, so you should follow these steps when reading your seedling for planting.
You will require the following materials when preparing your cabbage seedlings:
- A suitable tray
- Seed starter kit
- Cabbage seedlings of your preferred variety
- Growth medium.
- The first step is placing the seed starter in the tray. Then prepare a growth medium which is a seed starting mix. The most commonly used components include soil, peat moss, compost, and perlite. Peat moss is vital since it holds a considerable amount of moisture and releases it when moisture content runs low in the cell.
- Pour the seed starting mix into the starter cells until they are complete, then slightly compress the mix into the cells to remove air pockets that can hinder germination. However, do not compress the mixture too tightly since that can also prevent germination.
- Then fill each cell with water, allow it to seep through the mix, and shake the tray to remove excess water.
- Proceed to place 2 or 3 seeds per cell and cover them with more seed starting mix.
- Compress the top layer of the mix and add more water.
- Finally, label the tray indicating the variety of cabbage seeds used and the planting date to help keep track of the germination process.
Have a look: How Do I Keep Bugs From Eating My Cabbage Plants?
Cabbage requires several conditions to ensure they germinate and grow to a healthy size. However, the requirements vary depending on an area’s climate. For instance, in places like California and Florida which are warmer and have mild winters, the most appropriate time to plant is early spring or fall.
Moreover, for your seeds to germinate into healthy seedlings, you should apply fertilizer to help provide the necessary nutrients. For example, cabbages require high nitrogen content to grow; thus, you should apply high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Some fertilizer options include:
- all-purpose synthetic fertilizer at half dose.
You can mix compost into the growth medium when planting; however, you should apply the synthetic fertilizer only after the seedlings develop 2 or 3 leaves.
After a few weeks, go through every cell, pick out the weakest-looking seedling, and uproot it. That will prevent competition for resources resulting in healthier seedlings.
The type of container you use to grow your cabbages significantly contributes to the health and size of the cabbages you will harvest. A small container may not have enough space to allow the cabbages to grow to their full size. On the other hand, a large container will result in large cabbages that are unnecessary for domestic use only.
Consider these critical factors when choosing your cabbage container.
An appropriately sized container to grow cabbages should be about 5 gallons. It will allow the growth of medium-sized cabbages. The container should be sturdy since it will hold several pounds of content while the cabbage grows.
The container should also be breathable. That means it should have holes that facilitate air circulation, vital to developing a healthy root system. The cavities also contribute to adequate drainage, thus preventing root rot. Therefore, if your containers do not have holes, make some before potting and ensure their even distribution.
You must follow several steps to ensure your containers are ready to hold the seedling and allow adequate growth. They include:
- Fill the containers halfway with the growth medium.
- Add water and allow it to seep through the entire medium.
- Add more growth medium once the first half becomes soaked
- Leave about a 2-inch (5.04 centimeters) allowance at the top.
- Dig a 4-inch (10.16 centimeters) hole in the middle of the container and pour in some compost.
Once done, transplant the seedlings from the seed starter tray and place them in the compost-filled holes.
Also check: Cabbage Leaves Turning Brown? [Causes & Cares]
After transplanting cabbage seedlings, you must consider factors such as sunlight exposure, watering, nutrient content in the growth medium, and soil pH. Failure to monitor said factors will prevent seedling growth resulting in a poor harvest.
The following is a guide on handling each of those factors:
- Ensure the cabbage seedlings receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
- Watering should be done depending on prevailing weather conditions. When it is hot, you should water the seedlings every day; however, water them 2 or 3 times a week when it is cloudy or humid.
- Use fertilizers to ensure nutrient content is adequate. For example, you should apply liquid fertilizer once a month, while slow-release fertilizer should be applied every two months with the first application during planting.
- Ensure the soil pH ranges between 6.5 and 6.8 for optimal cabbage growth. Consider buying the Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit (available on Amazon.com) to help monitor pH levels. Moreover, it can help monitor nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash levels, thus guiding fertilizer application.
Cabbage is susceptible to several pests like cabbage aphids, loopers, cutworms, and diseases such as clubroot and black speck. It would help if you thus grew disease-resistant varieties in your containers and constantly monitored the cabbages to identify foliage damage or observe the pests.
Dealing with such pests is not difficult if you take note of the following tips:
- You can protect your cabbages from pests using floating covers.
- You can use pesticides and insecticides if the pests are already present. For example, when dealing with cabbage loopers, you can hand remove them or use BT organic insecticide.
- When presented with cabbage aphids, you can spray them using a water hose.
- In the case of slugs, you can hand-pick them at night or apply slug bait containing iron phosphate.
- Cover the cabbage stalk with tin foil if you want to stop cutworms.
- Ensure you provide the appropriate growth conditions. For example, you can stop clubroot disease by increasing soil pH while increasing potassium levels stops the spread of black speck disease.
Read: Holes in Cabbage Plant Leaves? [What needs to do]
The amount of time it takes before you can harvest cabbages depends on the variety grown. Thus the harvest period can range from 50 to 80 days. As noted, growing cabbages in a container will limit the size of the cabbages produced.
Before harvesting cabbages, squeeze the head of the cabbage to ascertain its maturity. If the head is hard, then it is ready for harvest. You can harvest cabbages using a long knife. First, push aside the outer leaves and use the knife to cut the head; however, ensure several leaves cover the head.
Once harvested, the cabbage heads can stay fresh for around three days at room temperature. However, you can refrigerate them for two weeks. You can use the outer leaves to feed chickens if you have a farm.
Additionally, have a look at below more gardening tutorials:
- Why Is My Cabbage Plant Giving Tall Sprouts?
- Why Are My Cabbage Leaves Turning Purple?
- Why Are My Cabbage Leaves Turning Yellow?
- How To Save a Freezing Cabbage Plant?
Growing cabbages in containers is a venture worth considering as a hobby and a way to minimize your grocery expenses and access organically grown food at an affordable cost. The process is straightforward since all you need to do is:
- Prepare a seedling starting kit to grow your cabbage seeds.
- Transplant the seedlings into your container.
- Provide the necessary conditions for growth, including providing adequate water, sunlight exposure, fertilizers, and regulating soil pH.
Ultimately, cabbages offer numerous health benefits and can help create a wide variety of recipes; hence they are ideal for a home garden.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.