We don’t talk about cabbage very much around here, it’s probably time for us to change that! Cabbage is an excellent northern crop, growing exceptionally well in our cooler climate. As many of you know, massive cabbages are produced every year and displayed in our state and community fairs.
We intentionally don’t grow those exceptionally large cabbages, typically based on the OS Cross variety. Our preference strongly leads towards “small market cabbages” and even these can end up becoming quite large. Our perfect northern growing environment and the midnight sun puts this plant into overdrive.
If you’re growing multiple cabbages, we definitely recommend harvesting them over time. Many gardeners easily become overwhelmed with a singular cabbage harvest, forcing them to find countless reasons to use up the massive harvest. Cabbage can be harvested pretty much any time after the head forms and becomes firm. Also, some cabbages aren’t particularly field hardy and may split if they are allowed to get too large. For this same reason, we generally recommend limiting the number you grow to something reasonable for your situation.
Cabbage is particularly cold hardy and can be brought through our first several frosts prior to harvest, if needed. There’s not a ton of pressure to get it out of the garden, so long as you do so before the hard frosts settle in. We always appreciate this flexibility in a crop and factor it into our general harvesting strategies.
If you’re having problems producing heads, it’s very likely that your variety may be a long season variety or you may not be using sufficient fertilizer. For best results, we need varieties with maturity times in the 60 to 90 day range. There are some types that take much longer than that, designed to grow in warmer climates over the winter. There is little risk of cabbage bolting (going to seed) in our cooler climate, this is more typically seen in the hot summers at lower latitudes.
Cabbage are best stored in cool temperatures. In proper root cellar conditions, they can last two or three months. If storing in the fridge, it’s best to wrap the cabbage in a damp paper towel to prevent it from becoming too dehydrated from refrigeration. Cabbage is also freezer friendly when it is blanched first, typically with wedges seeing 3 minutes and shredded cabbage seeing 90 seconds or so.
We’re definitely getting into cabbage season here at Frosty Garden, it’s about time we recognized this staple crop!