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How to Grow Cabbage

by Jack Grover
Reading time: 10 min Prefer to listen?

Envision biting into a fresh, crisp cabbage that you’ve grown yourself, with just the right crunch and a taste that surpasses anything you’ve ever bought from the grocery store.

Growing cabbage isn’t as daunting as it might seem. In fact, with the right guidance and a bit of patience, your garden can soon flourish with healthy, lush cabbage heads.

In this article, we’ll show you how to grow cabbage successfully.

You’ll learn about choosing the right cabbage variety, providing the ideal growing conditions, and two different methods for starting your cabbage seeds. We’ll also cover additional considerations to ensure your cabbage plants thrive.

By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to grow delicious, healthy cabbage in your own garden.

Key Takeaways:

  • Selecting the right cabbage variety is critical, considering factors like harvest time and climate conditions. Recommended varieties include Golden Acre, Savoy, Brunswick, Earliana, Napa Barrelhead, Napa Red Dragon, and Chinese Pak Choi.
  • Ideal growing conditions for cabbage involve full sun exposure for 6-8 hours daily, soil rich in organic matter, and a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
  • Direct sowing and indoor growth are both effective methods for starting cabbage seeds. For direct sowing, seeds need to be spaced 6 inches apart and covered in a light layer of soil.
  • Indoor cabbage seeds should be planted 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost or first fall frost and transplanted after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Regular watering, pest protection via barriers and companion plants, and proper spacing to avoid diseases are all key to cabbage care. 
  • Cabbage can also be grown successfully in pots and is suitable for beginner gardeners due to its forgiving nature.

Selecting the Right Cabbage Variety

Cabbage Variety


Different cabbage varieties are suitable for different growing seasons, so it’s important to check planting information before starting. When choosing the right cabbage variety, consider factors such as the desired harvest time and climate conditions.

  • Early varieties are perfect for spring planting and can be harvested before the heat of summer.
  • Mid-season varieties are great for summer planting and can withstand higher temperatures.
  • Late varieties are ideal for fall planting and can tolerate cooler temperatures.

It’s also important to consider the size and shape of the cabbage head you prefer. Some varieties produce small, compact heads, while others yield larger heads.

Below, we’ve recommended some of the top cabbage varieties that are generally agreeable to varying conditions and offer distinct flavors and textures:

  • Golden Acre: A popular choice for home gardens, the ‘Golden Acre’ variety matures early and produces round, compact heads of medium size, offering a subtle, sweet taste that’s perfect for salads and coleslaws.
  • Savoy: These distinctly crinkled, vibrant green leaves bring a touch of elegance to your garden. They’re packed full of flavor and are excellent for using fresh in salads or lightly sautéed for a warm side dish.
  • Brunswick: If you’re looking for a dual-purpose variety, ‘Brunswick’ cabbages are a great choice. These produce large, dense heads that are great for sauerkraut and can store well for winter usage.
  • Earliana: Known as one of the earliest maturing varieties, the ‘Earliana’ can be harvested in just 58 days, making them a great choice for those eager for a quick harvest. 
  • Napa Barrelhead: This variety is popular in Asia, presumably for the distinctive, elongated barrel-shaped heads. ‘Napa Barrelhead’ has tender, crunchy leaves used commonly in stir-fries and kimchi.
  • Napa Red Dragon: Just like the ‘Napa Barrelhead’, this variety offers elongated heads, but with a unique reddish-purple hue. The leaves are tender, sweet, and perfect for salads or slaws.
  • Chinese Pak Choi: A unique cabbage variety that doesn’t form a head but produces clusters of large, crunchy leaves. Chinese Pak Choi, also known as Bok Choy, is perfect for stir-fries or used fresh in salads. 

Providing the Ideal Growing Conditions

Cabbage plants require full sun for 6-8 hours a day to reach their full potential. To provide the ideal growing conditions for your cabbage, here are a couple of important factors to consider:

Soil Quality

Cabbage prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.5 for optimal growth.

Environmental Factors

Cabbage thrives in cool weather and can tolerate light frost. Avoid extreme heat, as it can cause the plants to bolt and form small heads.

By providing enough sunlight and maintaining optimal soil conditions, you can ensure that your cabbage plants grow healthy and produce delicious heads.

Keep in mind the importance of proper care and maintenance practices, as well as potential pests and diseases to watch out for. With these considerations in mind, you’ll be on your way to successfully growing cabbage in your garden.

Direct Sowing Cabbage Seeds

To start direct sowing cabbage seeds, space the seeds 6 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches apart. This will give the cabbage plants enough room to grow and develop properly. Make sure to sprinkle the seeds in a 1/2-inch-deep line and cover them with a light layer of soil.

Water the seeds well to ensure they have enough moisture to germinate. As the seedlings start to sprout, thin them out so that they are spaced 18-24 inches apart. This will prevent overcrowding and allow each plant to have enough space to thrive.

Direct sowing cabbage seeds is a simple and effective way to start growing your own cabbage. Just follow these steps and soon you’ll be enjoying fresh and delicious cabbage from your own garden.

Cabbage Seeds


Starting Cabbage Seeds Indoors

When starting cabbage seeds indoors, make sure to transplant the seedlings into the ground after the danger of frost has passed. This is important because cabbage is a cool-weather crop and needs a minimum temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive.

To grab your attention, here are two key points to remember when starting cabbage seeds indoors:

1. Timing

Start cabbage seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date for a spring crop or before the first fall frost for a fall crop. This will give the seedlings enough time to grow before they are transplanted into the garden.

2. Transplanting

Once the danger of frost has passed, it’s time to transplant the cabbage seedlings into the ground. Dig holes twice the size of the root ball and space the seedlings 18-24 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches apart. This will allow enough room for the cabbage plants to grow and develop their heads.

To sum up, growing cabbage in your own garden is a rewarding journey that intertwines patience, diligence, and a bit of horticultural know-how. From choosing the right variety, providing optimal growth conditions, to understanding planting techniques, you’re now well-equipped to start your own cabbage patch.


How often should I water my cabbage plants?

Cabbage plants need to be watered regularly. Aim for at least 1 inch of water per week either through rainfall or manual watering. Deep watering encourages roots to grow deeper, making the plants more drought-resistant.

What’s the best way to protect my cabbages from pests?

Physical barriers like row covers can protect early crops from pests. You can also plant companion plants such as thyme and mint, which repel cabbage pests.

Can I grow cabbage in pots?

Yes, cabbage grows quite well in containers. Just make sure the pot is large enough for the cabbage head to develop – usually a 12 to 16-inch pot will suffice.

Is cabbage a good plant for beginners?

Yes, cabbage is quite forgiving and can be a great plant for beginners. It’s hardy, can withstand a small amount of neglect, and as long as it’s given plenty of sun, water, and nutrients, it will usually thrive.

What are some common diseases that affect cabbage?

Some common diseases include fungal diseases like black rot, clubroot, and downy mildew. Keeping your garden well-maintained and not overcrowded can help prevent the spread of these diseases.

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