Cabbage is a versatile plant that can be grown throughout the winter. With tight heading or looser leaf varieties and edible or ornamental varieties, there is a cabbage for any garden.
Cabbage is in the same plant family as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and collards. It can be eaten raw in cole slaw, pickled in sauerkraut, or cooked into a variety of dishes. Cabbage is high in vitamins, particularly vitamin C.
This is a great vegetable for those who like their edible gardens to be both functional and beautiful; traditional cabbage looks quite nice as it slowly grows larger with a few loose leaves around a growing head. Chinese cabbage can be found in two types, heading (Pekinensis) or open-leaf (Chinensis). Open-leaf types form looser heads, giving you lovely large leaves to look at in your garden. Bok Choy is an open-leaf type of Chinese cabbage, while Michihili and Napa form tighter heads.
Planting and Care
Both cabbage and Chinese cabbage transplant well. Be sure to buy clean plants to avoid cabbage black-rot disease. Planting times vary depending on where you live in Florida.
Chinese cabbage needs a bit of room to grow, so space plants 14 to 18 inches apart, in rows 14 inches from each other. Look for varieties like Michihili, bok choy, Napa, baby bok choy, joi choi, pak-choi, or the pak-choi hybrid called toy choi.
Traditional cabbage should be planted in rows that are 24 inches apart, with 9 to 16 inches between plants. For cabbage, try varieties like Rio Verde, Flat Dutch, Round Dutch, Wakefield types, Copenhagen Market, or Savoy Red Acre.
As with all vegetables, be sure to give your cabbage plenty of sun and water. Don't worry about cold temperatures, as cabbage is frost tolerant. Irrigate in the early morning, since this allows the leaves to dry out in the sun and helps prevent common fungal diseases. Scout often for caterpillars.
Chinese cabbage is ready to harvest relatively quickly, depending on variety, taking 70 to 90 days when planted from seed, or 60 to 70 days when using transplants. Cabbage takes a bit longer, usually between 85 and 110 days when planted from seed, or 70 to 90 days when transplanted.