Caring for cabbages

Cabbages are heavy feeders and need plenty of food to grow. Without enough water, the heads will dry out and taste bitter, so fertilising and watering the plants is important.

Watering cabbage

  • Keep the water pressure low to avoid washing away the soil around the plants.
  • Water the base of the plant and not the head, as this might encourage pests and diseases.
  • Water the cabbages in the morning so the excess water on the leaves evaporates during the day.

Fertilising cabbage

  • Cabbage plants need fertiliser throughout the growing season.
  • Apply fertiliser several days before sowing or planting. This is known as “basal dressing”. Mix the fertiliser with the topsoil so that nutrients are available for the young growing plants. Use fertiliser with a high phosphorus content for root development, protein and chlorophyll formation.
  • Side dressing places fertiliser to the side of the plant. The most important nutrient at this stage is nitrogen. Side dressing works better when there’s enough moisture content in the soil.
  • Top dressing is when you apply fertiliser to a growing crop, and when the plants need the most nutrients. Start when the cabbage heads become firm.

Source: www.backyard-vegetable -gardening.com; Nitrogen requirements for cabbage transplants and crop response to spacing and nitrogen top dressing, by KLH Semuli. Contact the University of Pretoria’s department of plant production and soil science on 012 420 3224.