The lowly cabbage has been elevated to a position as one of the most nutritious vegetables, now that it has been shown to contain abundant nutrients, including antioxidants.
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Cabbage can be enjoyed in numerous ways. It can be eaten raw in cole slaw, as well as steamed, stir-fried, and pickled. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Cabbage leaves can also be stuffed, using large leaves to wrap around a savory filling. Cabbage is grows best when the heads mature in cool weather, so plan to harvest before the onset of hot weather in summer or in the fall.
Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
For a spring-planted crop, buy transplants at a nursery or start seedlings indoors 50 to 60 days before the last spring frost date. Harden off transplants over the course of a week or two, then plant them in the garden two or three weeks before the last expected frost date. Space early-maturing cabbages 12 to 15 inches apart, either in beds or single rows; later types, 18 to 24 inches apart. For fall crops, sow seeds directly in the garden. Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep, 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart, thinning plants to the proper spacing.
When cabbages are 4 to 5 inches tall, thin or transplant to stand 18 to 24 inches apart. Apply a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Contact your local county extension office for controls of common cabbage pests such as aphids, root maggots, cabbageworms, and cabbage loopers.
Start harvesting when cabbage heads are firm and softball size. Cut the head from the stem with a sharp knife and discard the outer leaves. To keep cabbage as long as possible, harvest late in the season before hard freezes and keep heads in a cold, moist area.
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