How To Grow Cabbage In 5 Simple Steps

Cabbage is an excellent addition to any gardener’s patch. It is easy to grow, but it requires some knowledge and attention if you wish to enjoy a bountiful harvest.

You have to sow some seeds, provide fertile soil, and sufficient water – then Voila! Is this really all it takes?

Well, not exactly. You still have to provide protection from harsh weather conditions, pests, and diseases, and know when to harvest the head. 

how to grow cabbage
Well-Formed Early Jersey Cabbage Grown In Garden

If you’re new to gardening or have never grown cabbages before, this can be somewhat daunting, but there’s nothing to worry about.

In this article, you’ll learn how to grow healthy cabbages at home, including tips on how to care for, protect, and harvest this versatile plant.


Before You Get Started…

Here is a list of things you’ll need to grow cabbages in your garden, whether in-ground or container. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to the exact item. You can get creative.

Cabbage Seeds Or SeedlingsChoose a variety you like to eat that suits your climate.
Spray BottleA small spray can, about 500ml.
Potting MixPreferably with lots of permits for drainage.
Seedling TrayThe larger the cell the better.
Sealed Seedling TrayIt should be large enough for the trays to fit and sealed to hold water.
Watering CanRemember 1 gallon water weighs about 10 lbs plus the can itself.
HoseLong enough to move around the planting area.
Shower Nozzle or WandTo gently sprinkle the seedlings/plants
Compost & Mulching MaterialBest to use organic material, but porous landscape fabric will do.
Garden Hand ToolsHand Shovel, Garden Fork & Shovel, Pruning Shares or Scissors, etc.

Step 1: Sow Cabbage Seeds In Trays

Ideally, it would be best to sow cabbage seeds indoors, using trays or pots that can be easily placed on a sunny windowsill or balcony. 

Fill the seeding container with moist potting mix, then gently tap it on the table to allow the mixture to settle. 

Remove excess growing material by sliding your hand over the mouth of the container. 

Afterward, make a hole about ½ inch deep and place two cabbage seeds. Cover the seed with growing media and cover it firmly.

Gently water the newly-sown seeds and place them in a cool shaded area until they germinate. 

Step 2: Care For Cabbage Seedlings

Cabbage seedlings will emerge in about 3 to 5 days. So, monitor them carefully and remove them at the first sign of germination.

Place newly-germinated seedlings in a sunny location or intense grow light. This will prevent them from “stretching out” in search of light.

Recently Germinated Cabbage Seedlings
Recently Germinated Cabbage Seedlings

Water the seedlings only when necessary, from below if possible. Monitor the potting mix daily for signs of drying out, such as changes in color or weight.

Apply organic liquid fertilizer the day after you notice the first set of true leaves and once per week after that. 

Then thin weaker seedlings in the second week using micro-tip pruning shears or small scissors. 

Step 3: Transplant Seedlings To Garden Or Container

You can keep the cabbages inside for up to 5 weeks, provided they have access to a good light source, and then it will be time to transplant!

Cabbage is a heavy feeder that can grow large, requiring at least 1 square per plant. They thrive in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil rich in organic material.

Cabbage seedlings growing in the garden
Cabbage Seedlings In Garden

Remove the seedlings from the tray and transplant them into the ground, at least 12 inches apart from the center. You can also transplant them to a large container at least 12 inches wide and deep.

Once transplanted, water the seedling with a dilute liquid fertilizer or KNF starter formula. This will lessen transplant shock, giving your seedlings a head start in their new environment.

Add organic mulch on the soil’s surface or growing media if you grow cabbages during a dry spell. You can also place a row cover to protect seedlings from insects and the scorching sun.

Step 4: Care For Cabbages (Mulch, Fertilize, Water…)

Once they’re in the ground, all that’s left for you to do now is to take care of them properly!

Thankfully, cabbages are one of the easiest vegetables to care for once their roots have developed. 

cabbage head folding
Cabbage Head Starting To Fold

All you need to do from this point onwards is to water them regularly, ensuring that the soil they are in never dries out. 

However, it would be best to be careful not to overwater, as soggy soil can be equally detrimental to your cabbages. 

In addition to this watering routine, you should feed your cabbages using a liquid feed. Yet, it would help if you avoided any liquid fertilizers that are too rich in Nitrogen, as they will harm the head formation of your cabbage. 

Step 5: Harvest Your Cabbage Heads

After about 20 weeks, it should now be time for you to harvest your cabbages! 

Doing so is a straightforward process, so there’s no need to panic about getting it right if it’s your first time. 

Harvested Cabbage Heads
Harvested Cabbage Heads

All you’ll need to do is use a sharp knife to cut the main body of the cabbage away from the stalk. 

For the best results, you should leave around 4 inches of the stalk remaining, as it isn’t uncommon for another, yet smaller, crop to grow from it. 

You can also encourage a second crop in cooler climates by scoring a small “X” in the stump!

Storing Cabbages

As with any vegetable, your cabbages are best eaten as fresh as possible, so ideally, you should eat them soon after picking them. 

However, if you need to store your winter or red cabbages, then you can, and they’re best stored in a cold, dark place, such as a refrigerator. 

Alternatively, you should consider canning or fermenting extra cabbages for later use and receive the additional health benefits of Lactic Acid Bacteria.  

Green And Purple Cabbage In Cold Storage
Green And Purple Cabbage In Cold Storage

Troubleshooting Common Cabbage Pest And Diseases

You should watch out for a few things while growing your cabbages, as it could prove problematic to their health!

The main threats to your cabbages are pests such as aphids, grasshoppers, and occasional calcium deficiencies.

However, a fungal disease called clubroot tends to affect the roots of cabbages and the other members of the Brassica family. 

As a result of this disease, the roots of your cabbage will become distorted and swollen, ultimately stunting your cabbage’s overall growth. 

Container Cabagges
Cabbages Growing In Containers

Club root is hard to remove from the soil, so you should try to prevent it instead by maintaining a healthy soil pH of 6.8 and above. 

In case of an outbreak, growing your brassicas in containers would be best while you work on improving the soil conditions.

Final Thoughts

Growing cabbages is relatively easy, with delicious results that are well worth the effort.

There is such a wide range of shapes, colors, or leaf textures to choose from, that you can grow some form of cabbage nearly any time of year and be intrigued at all they offer. 

We created this simple guide to provide clear instructions on how to grow your own cabbages at home. So, why not try it out for yourself sometime soon?


Utah State University Extension. Cabbage In The Garden. Accessed October 2022

South Dakota State University. Cabbabe. How To Grow It. Accessed October 2022

Ohio State University Extension. Growing Cabbage In The Home Garden. Accessed October 2022

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About Julien

Julien Kirton is the founder and main content creator at Micro Farm Guide. He has over 10 years experience in small-scale farming, and enjoys helping people build productive backyard farms using natural farming and other sustainable techniques.