Friday, January 09, 2009

What to Grow 2009 - Cabbage?

Do you grow cabbage?

I know Molly does! See her recent post here.

I haven't grown it before, simply because it is not something I buy often, and I know nothing about growing them. However, twice recently, I've had a salad with cabbage included that I really enjoyed.

Molly's post made me think about it (harvests in January?!). Then, in my Seed Starter's Handbook, it contains this warning: "Since cabbage seeds seem to germinate 100%, keep a rein on your seed-sowing hand..." Gotta love that!

So I'm open to your suggestions! What varieties do you prefer? It looks like there are early varieties and late varieties. Any preference there?

What growing tips do you have? When do you start them?

Thanks for your input!


Karen said...

No advice to offer here, I know they can be susceptible to pests so that's something to know in advance how you'll deal with. I think I might have a random kind of chinese cabbage out there now, but it's not ready to harvest in January for sure! Good luck, I'll be interested to see what people say.

Greenmantle said...

Cabbage is far and away my favourite vegetable, and a staple of most allotment and veg gardens in the UK. Best served (lightly) boiled with a knob of butter, and perhaps a teaspoon of cider vinegar in the water (which helps the flavour and also reduced cabbagey cookig smells... Or braised red cabbage with bacon, onions and red wine of course!

I know nothing aboiut US varieties, but in the UK for spring summer use I like Greyhound, or Hispi, but of which form small quick maturing pointed heads, with little waste.

"Savoy", and "January King" are also old favourites for winter cropping.

You do need to net them against cabbage butterflies though, or you will just grow caterpillars!

Greenmantle said...

Savoy Cabbage Receipe

Ingredients (serves four)
one small savoy cabbage
one onion
a bit of dry white wine
one tablespoon goose fat (you can use vegetable oil as well)

Take off the outer layer of leaves from the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half. Now put the half on a chopping board and cut off 3 mm thin slices. Wash in cold water and dry in a colander. Chop the onion.

Put the goosefat in a large saucepan (all the cabbage has to fit in!), add the chopped onion and fry until the onion starts changing colour. Now add the cabbage. Add salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg (grate from whole nutmeg). Stir and close the lid, turn the heat down to low. Leave for 15 minutes, then take off the lid. Careful with the heat - if you use too much, you will burn the cabbage - the idea here is to cook the cabbage without adding water. Add a bit of white wine and continue cooking for 4 minutes with the lid open - we want the residual moisture to evaporate.

Greenmantle said...

Or for a hearty winter casserole...

Put a good layer of "bacon bits" (not sure what they are called) folloed by a layer of sliced onions in the bottom of a casserole dish.

The pack the dish as full as you cann, right to the brim with sliced cabbage, and season very liberally with paprika (but no salt)

Top up the dish with plenty of good cheese sauce to fill the air gaps, and bake in the oven for an hour or so, until you judge it done.

You don't need to add any water, as there is plenty in the cabbage.

Just before the end add a top layer of breadcrumbs, and brown then under the grill until golden.

Fabulous comfort food!

Petunia's Gardener said...

Shoot! I didn't think about bugs! Thanks too both of you for the warning.

However, Greenmantle's recommendations and recipes make me what to give it a go. And, I was considering some netting anyway. So, if I do a little planning, I might have some luck.

As always, thanks for your valuable input! Paula

gardenerprogress said...

Hi, first thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such nice comments!
I've had luck growing cabbage, in fact quite well, only to be disappointed by the darn caterpillars/worms inside.
I hope you have better success!

Molly said...

lime the heck out of the planting bed. The cabbage in the photo is "red jewel". I also grew "elisa" and "spring" (all thompson and morgan varieties) None of them had the sweetness I was hoping for, but I can't complain about the red jewel when I can harvest it in mid winter.
You've inspired me. I think I'll write a post about my cabbage growing season.

LFP said...

I got all excited about winter gardening while reading "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" the summer before last (my very first garden started that spring). It was the middle of summer and everything was coming on strong and I couldn't bare to think of the season ending. So I hurried to start cabbage and kale and mustard greens and winter lettuce and collards and carrots and beets (for those January harvests).

Something happened to me though, psychologically, when they did the daylight saving's time change. Something about its being wet and dark and windy every single day after work just sapped my already waning interest in carrying out the garden chores. (Snipping slugs is one thing in June, it is something else entirely in January.)

In short, pests damaged my young cabbage so much that it didn't have the power to head up. The collards were more hole than leaf. The mustard greens did well but took a cold snap in mid-January pretty hard (I have no cloche or cold frame) (the Purple Osaka also bolted in October, the Mizuna rebounded well from the January freeze and bolted in February). The lettuce was usable till mid-November but by then there was lots of brown and lots of slugs (which I had lost the will to continue battling) and I was too late to get any size out of my carrots or beets.

Only the Winterbor kale seemed basically weather and pest proof (and lazy gardener proof too). Though kale is not something that I buy often, it IS better from the garden than from the grocery, requires no effort (I started it about 7/15 outside in the biggest pots I could spare and transplanted in when other stuff finished... I have small garden in a Seattle suburb) and you can go out and trim a crop in January (or any time after the better stuff finishes) (last time I pulled them out to start my peas in mid-March, they were beginning to bolt then).

This year, anticipating my waning interest, I planted only enough lettuce to get me to November and transplanted in kale when things reached their ends (forgoing all of the other stuff). It has done well except that our crazy 9-day snow broke a large number of the leaves off. (I collected these, 2lbs in fact, and cooked them all up and have been using them in soup and sides since.)

Next year I think I will try one or two other winter things (started earlier, etc) to see if my skills have improved any, but for the most part, the kale will probably be the main crop. It takes no effort and still satisfies that "I grew this" garden pleasure in the coldest months.