independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Veg of the Week

Why Grow it?

Cancer prevention tops all other areas of health research with regard to cabbage. More than 475 studies have examined the role of this cruciferous vegetable in cancer prevention. It is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and glucosinolate nutrients. With a little planning it's possible to have a supply of cabbage all year round, even through the coldest of winters. It grows well in our relatively cool climate.

Sow

A foolproof way to grow healthy cabbage seedlings is to sow them in module seed trays – sow two seeds in each module 1.5cm deep. Remove the weaker seedling. Cabbages will germinate in about a week and will be ready for planting about three weeks later. Since they are a hungry crop, add plenty of compost or manure the previous autumn. Water plants well before sowing – create a hole with a dibber, pop the seedling in and then firm in very well.

Spacing will determine the size of the heads – between 45-60cm is about right.

Grow

Hoe around young seedlings regularly to keep weeds down. Water regularly to prevent the roots from drying out.

Harvest

Harvest spring and summer cabbages as soon as they have formed good compact heads. Autumn and winter cabbages will stand much longer in the ground.

GIY Recommended Varieties

Vertus (Savoy), hispi (spring), stonehead (summer), January king (winter).

Problems

Cabbage root fly maggots eat the roots. 15cm wide "collars" made from felt or carpet placed around the stem at soil level can prevent the adult fly from laying its eggs. The other major pests are butterflies which lay their eggs on the underside of leaves – the resulting caterpillars will munch their way through your crop. Cover your cabbage crop with appropriate netting to stop the butterfly laying its eggs.

GIY Tips

* You can test to see if the young seedling is planted firmly enough as follows: after planting, tug at a leaf – the leaf should pull off (as opposed to pulling the whole seedling out of the ground).

* After harvesting a cabbage head, cut a cross into the stem – if left in the soil, each quadrant in the stem will sprout baby cabbage leaves which effectively gives you a second crop from the one plant.

Watch a GIY video tutorial on growing cabbage here: www.giyireland.com/videos/detail/cabbage

Irish Independent

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