How to Grow Cabbage from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow cabbage at home? Great news, it’s not difficult and also quite a lot of fun.
However, to grow cabbage in an optimal manner, you need some things to know.
In the following, I give you all the information you need to know to grow cabbage from seed to harvest step-by-step.
I also included additional video material to make this article even more helpful for you so that you find everything you need to grow cabbage in this article.
Without further ado, let’s get started! 😉
Cabbage Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||Around 1 foot tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.|
|Climate||Cabbage grows best in moderate to cool climatic conditions with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Cabbage needs many hours of sun to grow in the best possible manner.|
|Soil Requirements||Cabbage plants grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.|
|Country of Origin||China.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy – Intermediate. You don’t need to be an expert to grow cabbage as long as you follow the advice in this growers guide.|
|Perennial?||No, cabbage is harvested in the first growing year.|
|When should you start?||You can grow cabbage throughout the year. You can grow winter cabbage, spring cabbage or summer cabbage.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||One cabbage head per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||Between 100 and 150 days to grow cabbage from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Aphids, Cabbage Looper, Cabbage worms, Moth Caterpillars, Cabbage Maggot, Harlequin Bug.|
|What to do with it?||You can make many nice salads, roles or soups out of your cabbage.|
What Types and Varieties of Cabbage can you grow?
There are numerous different cabbage varieties out there. I listed the most popular ones for growing purposes below:
- Golden Acre
- January King
- Red Acre
- Mammoth Red Rock
- Savoy Perfection
- Charleston Wakefield
While I love to grow Golden Acre cabbage myself since it provides me with quite decent yields and also tastes quite well, I suggest you try out many different cabbage varieties so that you can figure out what you really like and grow those varieties for the next years.
In fact, if you have never grown cabbage before, just pick a handful of different cabbage varieties for your first growing project.
You can also use a cabbage seed mix if you really want a surprise regarding what exactly you will be growing 😉.
Either way, by growing a variety of different cabbage sorts, your growing experience will be much more interesting compared to just growing one cabbage variety since you will get different shapes and colors of cabbage and you may even be quite surprised of how different cabbage can really look like compared to what you are used to from your local grocery store.
When should you start to grow Cabbage?
There are different types of cabbage to grow. You can either grow winter cabbage, summer cabbage or spring cabbage.
In this article, I focus on how to grow cabbage that is seeded in early spring and harvested in early summer.
However, please note that the step-by-step approach I give you in this article will work for all different types of cabbage and if you want to start out later on in the year with your cabbage growth project, you can follow those steps as well.
Thus, for our cabbage growing project, I would suggest you start with planting your seeds as early as mid of March so that your cabbage will have enough time to grow and to be harvested in early summer.
How long does it take to grow Cabbage from Seed to Harvest?
It will usually take between 100 and 150 days to grow cabbage from seed to harvest. However, please note that this greatly depends on the variety of cabbage you want to grow, on the overall climatic conditions, on the soil conditions you provide for your plants and also on your skills level.
While experienced gardeners are often able to grow cabbage in a relatively short period of time, you may need much longer if you are just growing your first cabbage and don’t have too much knowledge yet.
Hence, don’t get impatient and just enjoy the growing experience. In fact, growing cabbage is not just about the end result, it is about enjoying the ride.
I personally enjoy the growing experience itself much more than the actual harvest.
Thus, if it takes you longer to grow cabbage than you expected, don’t be disappointed.
See it positive: The longer it takes you to grow cabbage, the longer you can enjoy your growing experience.
What is the best Climate to grow Cabbage?
Cabbage usually likes moderate climate and doesn’t like extreme weather conditions at all.
However, as long if you don’t live in too extreme climatic zones, chances are that you will just be fine with growing cabbage.
In fact, seed companies did a great job in developing robust cabbage strains that can be grown in many countries of our planet.
What Temperatures do Cabbage like?
Most cabbage varieties like rather cool temperatures. In fact, the optimal temperature range to grow cabbage is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is also the reason why you should start your growing project early on in the year so that your cabbage will be ready to harvest before the hot summer days arrive.
However, as mentioned before, thanks to seed companies who really optimized cabbage seeds for various different regions, you will still be able to grow your own cabbage at home, even though you might live in a region that doesn’t provide this optimal temperature range as long as temperatures are not too extreme like in the tropics or in Antarctica.
What do you need to grow Cabbage?
While growing cabbage is not difficult at all, you still need some growing equipment. I listed the most important things to grow cabbage below:
- Growing bed (to grow your cabbage seedlings)
- Flower pots (the bigger, the better; only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your cabbage)
- Cabbage seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Sticks and cord to stake your cabbage
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Earthworm castings (optional)
- Compost (optional)
- Motivation for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Cabbage?
When you grow cabbage, you can only expect to harvest one cabbage head per plant. However, even though this may not sound as much first, keep in mind that cabbage heads can get quite big and that you can use them for multiple meals. Therefore, don’t let this deter you from growing cabbage.
Especially if you have a big garden, you will be able to grow multiple cabbage plants and will be able to secure your cabbage supply for many months.
And as I mentioned before. Growing cabbage is not only about the yield, it’s about loving the process and the growth experience itself.
If you are not interested in gardening, you should not grow your own cabbage at all since it doesn’t make too much sense from a monetary perspective.
Hence, don’t be in the gardening game for the yields, be in it for the fun of gardening itself.
What Plants should you grow with Cabbage?
To know more about what to plant with cabbage, make sure to check out my article that shows you the best and worst cabbage companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Cabbage?
Many people don’t understand why they should even bother with growing their own cabbage at home.
They often claim that it is cheaper and easier to just get cabbage from their local store instead of growing cabbage in their garden or on their balcony.
While it is true that growing cabbage at home doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective most of the time and also implies much more effort compared to just buying cabbage from the store, there are numerous other advantages of growing cabbage at home.
First, growing your own cabbage can be quite a lot of fun. In fact, I really love growing my own vegetables and it is just a nice hobby for me.
Second, growing cabbage can give you an opportunity to reconnect to nature. In fact, many people completely lost their connection to nature, especially if they live in big cities and work in office jobs for long hours every day.
However, our ancestors lived in line with nature for many centuries and we have it deep inside our DNA to engage in nature activities. Growing your own plants at home is one of those activities that get you back to the roots.
Third, growing cabbage can also improve your overall health level.
If you buy cabbage in a store that comes from conventional agriculture, chances are that it will be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides, which can be potentially harmful to our health.
By growing your own cabbage instead, you can be sure to grow your cabbage fully organic instead.
Fourth, growing your own vegetables at home can also greatly decrease your overall stress level.
In fact, sitting in your garden or on your balcony and seeing your cabbage plants grow can give you an inner feeling of peace and you can unplug from your stressful daily life after work.
Consequently, while growing cabbage might not make sense from a financial perspective, it can still make sense due to the various different reasons mentioned above.
Growing Cabbage: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Cabbage Plants
Now that I hopefully convinced you that growing your own cabbage is indeed a good idea, we can get into the actual planning for your cabbage growing project.
The first thing to do is to select the optimal site for your cabbage in your garden or on your balcony.
Does Cabbage like Sun or Shade?
Cabbage likes the sun. You should make sure that your cabbage plants get at least 4 hours of sunlight every day to grow in a healthy manner. If you can provide your cabbage plants with more sun, even better.
Hence, make sure to choose a sunny spot for your cabbage plants to provide them with optimal growing conditions.
What are the Soil Requirements of Cabbage?
Cabbage plants like rather neutral soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7 (7 means neither acidic nor alkaline).
Hence, you are fine by just getting potting soil from your local store and mixing it with soil from your garden most of the time.
However, also note that cabbage likes well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients.
Hence, make sure that you loosen up the soil and also that you add some fertilizer to the soil to let your cabbage grow in an optimal manner.
Thus, when you prepare your soil, you can add some worm castings or also some of your own compost to the soil in order to optimize the growth conditions for your cabbage plants even further.
How much Space do Cabbage Plants need?
While cabbage plants don’t need much space in the vertical, they still need some space in the horizontal.
In fact, for each cabbage plant, you should plan around 10 square feet so that your cabbage plants can grow in an optimal manner and don’t have to compete for nutrients or sunlight with each other.
If you have a big garden, you can give your cabbage plants even more space. In fact, the more space you provide for your plants, the better they will grow.
Hence, the 10 square feet mentioned above should rather be considered as a minimum space requirement and more space would be even better for your cabbage plants.
Should you plant Cabbage in a Pot or in your Garden?
In theory, it would be possible to grow cabbage in a pot. However, in practice, I would not recommend you to do so since cabbage plants need a lot of soil and you would need to use enormous pots to provide good growing conditions for your cabbage.
Hence, if you don’t have a garden and want to grow cabbage on your balcony, growing cabbage in a pot will be your only option.
However, if you have a garden, I would suggest you grow your cabbage there since you can offer your cabbage plants much more space and you will have a much easier life in general by doing so.
2. Plant Cabbage Seeds
After selecting the optimal site for your cabbage plants, it is now time to get into the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Cabbage Seeds or Seedlings?
The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether you want to buy cabbage seedlings from your local garden center or if you just want to grow your own seedlings.
I am a firm believer that growing your own seedlings is much better since only then will you get the full growing experience.
In fact, if you just get cabbage seedlings from your local store, you will miss one important step in the overall growth process.
Moreover, you should learn how to grow cabbage from seed to harvest since by learning how to grow cabbage seedlings, you will also be able to transfer this knowledge and grow various other plant seedlings.
Growing your own seedlings is not difficult at all and I show you how to grow your own cabbage seedlings step-by-step in the following chapters. Hence, just stay with me and go for it! 😉
Should you buy Cabbage Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If this is your first cabbage growing project, you will have no other choice than to just use seedlings from seed companies instead of producing your own cabbage.
Unlike other plants like tomatoes, you can’t just win cabbage seeds out of the crops.
Hence, you will just have to rely on buying your cabbage seeds from seed companies online or from your local garden center.
How to plant Cabbage Seeds
After you got your seeds, it is now time to really get into the actual growth process and to plant those seeds. In order to do so, just grab your growing bed and fill it with soil.
Make sure that you leave a few inches in the vertical and don’t fully fill it with soil. After that, place your cabbage seeds onto the soil.
Make sure that you leave around 5 inches of space into every direction so that your cabbage seedlings will have enough space to grow in a healthy manner.
After you placed all of your seeds, cover them with an additional soil layer of around 1 inch in height. Water your growing bed in the final step and you are done.
Now, you just have to place your growing bed at a warm and bright spot in your home so that you provide optimal germination conditions for your cabbage.
Please note that not all seeds will turn into seedlings. In fact, some seeds will just rot in the soil.
Hence, make sure that you plant more seeds than you want to get seedlings.
For instance, if you want to produce 10 seedlings, I suggest you plant 20 seeds so that you can be pretty sure to reach your goal.
In fact, a ratio of 2:1 between seeds and required seedlings can be considered a good rule of thumb which you can use to make sure to raise enough seedlings.
How long does it take to see the first Cabbage Seedlings?
Now that you planted your seeds into the growing bed, it is time to be patient and to wait a little bit.
In fact, it will often take over one week until you will see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface.
Even if it takes a little bit longer, don’t get impatient. Rather wait and let nature do its work.
However, after around one month, you shouldn’t expect to see any more seedlings reaching the soil surface.
This also implies that if some spots in your growing bed are still empty after one month, you can plant additional seeds in those spots if you are not happy with the current number of seedlings.
How to protect your Cabbage Seedlings
As long as you keep your cabbage seedlings inside your home in your growing bed, you will not need to take too many additional protection measures.
In fact, if you don’t have pets, you can just leave your seedlings as they are and you will not have to protect them at all.
However, in case you have pets, you should make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your growing bed to protect your cabbage seedlings from unpleasant surprises.
When should you transplant your Cabbage Seedlings?
After a few weeks, your cabbage seedlings will become bigger and stronger and at one point in time, they will be ready to be transplanted outdoors.
However, you might ask yourself how you know when it is actually time to transplant your cabbage outside. For me, there are two main factors to consider.
First, you should make sure that your cabbage seedlings have a minimum size before you transplant them outdoors.
Only if they have a certain size, they will be resistant enough to deal with the harsh outside conditions.
Always remember that your cabbage seedlings will still be quite sensible at the beginning and can’t be exposed to the outdoor world too soon.
I would suggest you wait with transplanting your seedlings outdoors until they reach a minimum height of at least 5 inches.
Second, also make sure that the outside temperature is suitable to transplant our cabbage.
Even though cabbage plants are not that sensitive to the cold, I would suggest you wait with transplanting them outdoors until temperatures no longer fall below the freezing mark.
If both the size and the temperature criteria are met, it is time to transplant your cabbage seedlings outside. Before you do so, make sure to prepare your growing site in your garden.
Just dig one hole that is about 10 square feet in size and 1 foot deep for each cabbage seedling. Now mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store.
You can also add worm castings and compost from your garden to the soil mix if you want to.
Make sure that the soil mix is rather loose and well-drained and fill the holes with the soil mix. After that, you will be ready to transplant each seedling at one spot.
Make sure to remove each seedling carefully from your growing bed so that you don’t hurt the roots.
After you successfully transplanted your seedlings into your garden, you just have to water them and you are done.
Alternatively, if you want to grow cabbage in a pot, just fill your pot with soil and transplant our seedlings in the pot.
However, as mentioned earlier, I would not recommend you to do so if you have the option to grow your cabbage in your garden.
What kind of Protection do Cabbage Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that your cabbage seedlings will no longer enjoy the safety inside your four walls, it is time to think of adding additional protection.
In fact, snails and other animals will try to eat your seedlings and you have to protect them a little bit.
Otherwise, chances are that you will wake up some day and wonder where your cabbage seedlings have gone 😉.
Hence, to protect your seedlings, I recommend using a slug fence so that you can deter snails and other smaller animals.
While you could also use some chemical options, I am not a big fan of using chemicals for your growing project at all since those chemicals are quite bad for our environment.
Thus, just use a slug fence and you are fine in most cases. You could also install some additional bigger fences if you really want to protect your cabbage seedlings even further.
3. The Cabbage Growth Process
Now that you managed to transplant your cabbage seedlings to the world outdoors and you protected them properly, you already got the hardest part done.
Your plants will become stronger every day and will also become less vulnerable.
Hence, if they are still alive after a few more weeks, chances are that they will also make it to the end of the growing season.
However, even though you already did most of the manual work, there are still things you have to consider that I show you in the following chapters.
Should you prune your Cabbage Plants?
While some people claim that pruning cabbage is actually a good idea, I am not convinced about that at all. In my opinion, it is much better to just let your cabbage grow instead of pruning it.
In fact, if you prune your cabbage, you can do more harm than good and pruning is also a process that is not in line with nature.
Hence, I would not prune my cabbage plants but rather let them grow in a completely natural manner.
Do you have to pollinate your Cabbage Plants by Hand?
No, pollinating your cabbage plants by hand is not necessary at all. Your cabbage plants will produce crops without the need to manually pollinate them.
Hence, there will be no additional action needed from your side in this regard.
How to stake your Cabbage Plants
While it is not urgently necessary to stake your cabbage plants, it can still help to stabilize your plants.
Hence, if you want to stabilize your cabbage as best as possible, you can just anchor bamboo sticks next to each of your plants into the ground.
After that, just tie your plants with cord to those sticks. Now your cabbage will be less vulnerable to winds and may have a higher chance to survive the harsh outside conditions.
4. The Cabbage Harvest
After following all the steps outlined in this article, you can expect pretty decent cabbage yields.
When should you harvest your Cabbage?
You can harvest your cabbage as soon as the cabbage heads reach a certain size.
While they might not grow as big as the cabbage heads you are used to from your local grocery store, they should still reach around two-thirds of this size.
You can also touch your cabbage heads. If they are firm and cannot be squeezed by hand too much anymore, this is another clear indication that they are ready to be harvested.
How to store your Cabbage?
Cabbage can be stored for many months when stored properly. The best place to store your cabbage is in a dark, dry and cold spot inside your house. This may be your basement or another room that provides those conditions.
However, even though you could store your cabbage for a while, I suggest you eat it pretty soon since it will have the most vitamins and other precious components and it will also taste the best right after the harvest.
What should you do with your Cabbage?
Cabbage is quite versatile and you can use it for many different dishes. While you could make coleslaw, you could also use your cabbage to make cabbage rolls or cabbage soup.
Moreover, you could even create your own cabbage dishes if you are a creative person. Either way, just enjoy the fruits of your labor! 😉
Cabbage Plant Care Tips
While you already know all the steps you need to take to grow cabbage in a successful manner, you still need some additional general information to do so which I provide you with in the following.
How often should you irrigate Cabbage?
Cabbage needs plenty of water to grow in a healthy manner. However, too much of it is not good either and therefore, you should not water your cabbage in an excessive manner.
Moreover, as mentioned before, also make sure that the soil is well-drained so that excess water can vanish pretty soon.
If you are not sure whether it is time to water your cabbage plants or not, you can use a simple trick. Just dig a little hole with your finger close to your cabbage plant and see if the soil sticks to your finger.
If this is the case, your cabbage doesn’t need any irrigation yet. If no soil sticks to your finger, it is time to water your cabbage.
However, while this trick can be quite useful, you will not need it anymore when you become more experienced.
In fact, after a few years of growing your own cabbage at home, you will have a pretty good feeling regarding when it is time to water your cabbage plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Cabbage Plants?
While some people claim that it is best to water your cabbage in the early morning, I personally haven’t seen any difference between watering them in the morning or in the evening.
In my opinion, it is much more important that you give your cabbage plants water whenever they need it instead of just relying on a rigid watering schedule.
How often should you fertilize your Cabbage Plants?
As mentioned earlier in this article, it is important to fertilize your cabbage since it will need plenty of nutrients to develop satisfying yields.
If you have already added worm castings and your own compost to the soil mix, your cabbage plants will already get plenty of nutrients from the soil and there may be no need for adding additional fertilizer.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Cabbage Plants?
If you really want to add additional fertilizer, you should rely on natural instead of chemical fertilizer.
In fact, if you use chemical fertilizer, you can greatly hurt the soil and the local flora and fauna.
Hence, in order to protect our environment, make sure to only use natural organic fertilizer which you can get from the internet or from your local garden center.
However, even better would be to make your own natural fertilizer. You just need to collect some stinging nettles, put them in a bucket full of water and wait for a few days.
After this period of time, just remove the plant material and you will have a nice natural fertilizer which you can just add to the water in your watering can on a regular basis.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Cabbage?
There will also be no need to use chemical pesticides at all. In fact, if you made your own stinging nettle liquid, you can not only use it as fertilizer, you could also use it as natural pesticide. Many pests don’t like the taste of stinging nettle liquid at all.
Hence, you just have to spray some of it onto your cabbage plants any you can deter most pests in a completely natural manner.
Moreover, instead of using herbicides, just remove weeds by hand and you are good to go. As you can see, you don’t need any chemical components for your cabbage growing project.
You can just rely on mother nature who provides us with everything we need to grow our plants in a successful manner.
Also make sure to get more information on how to get rid of cabbage pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
First of all, thanks for staying with me until the end of this article. I know it was pretty long and it can be exhausting to digest all the information from this cabbage grower’s guide.
However, in order to provide you with all the information that is necessary to grow cabbage from seed to harvest step-by-step, I was simply not able to make this article any shorter.
I hope this article was helpful to you. If so, make sure to share it over social media and also with your family and friends.
Also make sure to have a look at my growing cabbage FAQ article!
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.