If you’ve had problems in the past with getting cabbages to form a heart, then this article will shed a little light on the situation!
Pests & Diseases:
Like all brassicas, cabbages are susceptible to certain pests and diseases, so in the first instance it is crucial to protect them from the offset.
- Cabbage Root Fly – use brassica collars (see below)
- Caterpillars – use a fine insect-proof net/mesh to protect plants from butterflies
- Pigeons – net your plants
- Slugs – set down beer traps, do a dusk slug patrol, water in the mornings rather than evenings etc. (See below)
- Club Root – avoid planting in an infected bed (i.e if you’ve experienced this disease in the past, it is best to plant them in a new bed) and add fresh compost at the start of the season to lift nutrient levels.
In addition to the above, there is one other potential problem with growing cabbages, and that is when the cabbages fail to form tight hearts towards the middle/end of the season, instead producing lots of open leaves. This usually happens for the following reasons:
- Not enough organic matter – make sure you add plenty of compost to the soil when you plant your cabbages. Homemade compost is ideal.
- Soil not firm enough – when you plant the cabbages, be sure to firm them in well. It helps with their root structure, and this in turn prevents them from becoming ‘stressed’ and thus they don’t have to form loads of leaves or bolt early.
- Drought – a long dry spell will stress the plants, and they will produce leaves before bolting as a result. Water well and often during dry spells, and add a mulch to prevent the soil underneath from drying out and getting too hot.