I tell you what: It’s going to take more than a garden fork to harvest that Cabbage!!
In my 5 year time at the allotment; Cabbages have never done well for me, or rightly speaking, I haven’t done right by them! They are a hunger, thirsty vegetable during their growing season. With my plot’s soil structure being heavy soil, THAT did not help either! But I have overcome that. My answer is not a quick fix by any means. Sure I could add bought in Compost or Farm Manure. I refused to go down that route, as it did not feel fully organic.
It has taken 5 years of digging, 4 years of crop rotation and after each last harvest of the Legumes family of crops (Beans & Peas), planting Field Beans (Green Manure) to overwinter in that soil. I say this sympathetically, Soil is not allowed to rest or get weed-ridden; prior to planting out any of these Brassica family plants, the following year.
Growing Field Bean green manure has played the biggest part in helping break up the clay soil, over the winter months without breaking my back during Spring Dig ! The roots also help draw up Nitrogen from deep below and store it in the nodules on the roots, ready for the next crop. It also helped prevent any soil erosion, during our wet winters, had I just dug over and left it, for frost to help break up the soil.
Come Springtime, section by section , these manure plants will be cut down and roots and tops turned in. This activates the nodules to release the Nitrogen ready to plant the Cabbage plants in 2 weeks times.
As for the Savoy Cabbage, never start seeds too early in Spring, if the intention is for late Autumn to Winter crop. I don’t always follow instructions on the seed packet right down to the T!! Remember these are all guide times. But always use a good seed compost to start the seeds. As soon as they are established I moved the tray into a big crate outdoors and draped a small piece of netting to prevent any cabbage white butterflies from laying eggs on the plants until it was ready to plant out.
Back on the plot; a quick tilth and rake of the soil, sticks positioned as guides as to where the cage sits and later walking the plank to firm the planting position. This helps prevents 2 things:
- Firm soil stops the root fly eggs from dropping within the soft loose soil preventing the maggots feeding on the roots and
- Holds the plants in place, as the rocking effect can trigger the loose plants to go to seed. (This has happened to my plants in previous years as the soil to not of fine tilth due to its clay structure).
Planted out the Cabbages and the other Brassicas too. Watered in, straw was tucked around the plants, instead of using Cabbage Collars to prevent the Root fly from laying its eggs at base of the Plants also slugs hate crawling over Straw. Finally placed the netted cages over the plants.
All I have to do now for the next 4 months is weed, feed and keep butterflies from laying eggs on the plants, oh, and never let the soil dry out over the Summer months. Can’t be that hard can it?
This year a good soil management ethics and a ‘on top of it’ attitude has helped me grow not only these wonderful organic Savoy cabbages but all the other Brassica variety of vegetables too. When it came to harvesting this Cabbages, looks like I will need more than a digging fork to harvest it.
I laugh to myself, first couldn’t grow Cabbages now I need loppers because a small knife will not cut the thick stalks of my Cabbages.
Now all that remains to say is: to use a recipe and make something special out of this wonderful homegrown frost kissed 5kg of a vegetable. And repeat the process for next year.
Have you been successful with growing Cabbages this year?