Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Growing Cabbage

Posted March 20, 2017 by Lauren Dibble in Gardening / 1 Comment


Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

how to grow cabbage plant from seed vegetable garden

In this series I’m compiling the quick and dirty info on growing specific vegetables. Just the basics. No fluff, no frills. When you’re sitting down in the late Winter, surrounded by seed catalogs, and your garden plan in front of you, you want a quick reference. How far apart can you plant? What pH do they need? How much water? What vegetables can you plant next to others? Which should you avoid?

This quick and dirty 30 second guide to Cabbage should help you answer all those questions quickly, without having to sort through article after article. I’ve always wanted a quick cheat sheet like this, so hopefully you’ll find it useful too!


I wasn’t fond of cabbage until I met my husband. Growing up in a German household, he grew up on braised cabbage. After spending 5 years in Okinawa, he developed a love for cabbage salad, and even kimchi.

While I haven’t tried making kimchi (yet!), I have come to appreciate this homely, humble leaf.

If you haven’t watched “Minding Your Mitochondira“, a TEDx talk, yet, you absolutely should. Long story short, Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed with MS and began a quest to learn how to heal her brain and her mitochondria with food. She discovered that sulfur-rich foods (amond other things) help to repair mitochondria. So she added those foods to her diet.

Foods like eggs, legumes, nuts, onions, and the simple cabbage contain sulfur. The lowly cabbage directly feeds the cells of your body. For that reason, it’s found a place in my heart.

Cabbage was likely domesticated in Europe sometime before 1000 BC, but it didn’t look like the heads of cabbage we’ve come to know. They were loose-leafed, more resembling kale.

The tight “heads” of cabbage didn’t appear until the 14th century.

Cole crops (such as broccoli and cauliflower) reached the high of their popularity by the Middle Ages as a cold-hardy, un-fussy crop.

Medicinally, cabbage has been said to provide relief from gout, headaches and indigestion. Cold cabbage leaves can also be applied to the breasts of a breastfeeding mother to provide relief from engorgement.

If you’re growing Cabbage this year, here’s what you need to know:

how to grow cabbage plant seed

Soil pH



6 hours


1-1.5 inches per week

Planting Time

Direct sow 4 weeks before last frost or start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last Spring frost.

For tips and tricks on how to start seeds indoors, check out my post How to Start Seeds.

Compatible With

Beans, Celery, Cucumbers, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes

Avoid Planting With

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Strawberries, Tomatoes


12-24 inches


Low maintenance. Manage pests.

For more info on using companion plants to manage cabbage pests, check out my post Hillsborough Homesteading’s Long List of Companion Plants.

Harvesting Fruit

80-180 days

Saving The Seeds

Cabbages are mostly biennial, which means to produce seed, they will mature their first year, die down and set flower their second year.

The other concern with harvesting cabbage seeds is that they will cross pollinate with other members of the Brassica family such as collards, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and kale. To prevent cross pollination, they need up to a mile of distance.

If you do harvest the seeds, allow them to dry completely on the plant before harvesting.

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