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Cabbage is a cool-weather leaf crop that has been cultivated for culinary use since at least 2,500 BCE. Wild ancestors and thousands of years of human intervention have led to countless varieties and cultivars of this plant. Cabbage is commonly categorized by its growing season. The term “spring cabbage” refers to cabbage plants that are ready for harvest in the springtime.
Like all cabbage plants, spring cabbage thrives in cooler weather. Spring plants bloom early in the season and provide a break from root crops and other winter vegetable staples. Multiple varieties of cabbage fall under the header of spring cabbage plants. Sweetheart, hispi, Duncan, excel, and April cabbage are just some of the cultivars that thrive in the spring months.
A spring cabbage garden starts with selecting the proper spot. Cabbage prefers sunny, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. A slightly acidic soil with a pH level of 6 to 6.5 works best. Cabbage plants prefer cooler temperatures, but they begin to fail when left to dry out. Gardeners should select a site that can be kept constantly moist.
Seeds are sown directly into open soil, though some cultivars do well when transplanted as seedlings. Seedlings should be planted in mid- to late fall. If a gardener is starting a cabbage garden from starter plants, spring cabbage is ready for planting in early mid-winter. Growing spring cabbage requires little maintenance; if the proper soil is selected, minimal to no fertilization is necessary.
Typical cabbage pests such as aphids and cabbage worms are of little threat during the cooler spring months. One of the greater threats to springtime cabbage is animal life, which may take advantage of the first appearance of green leaves to gorge. Wildlife deterrents such as netting are effective at warding off most pests.
Spring cabbage can be harvested as soon as the plant is fully formed. Plants are typically ready to harvest 60 to 80 days after sowing the seeds. Cabbage heads should be cut on the firm part of the stalk, before the plant splits.
Cooking with spring cabbage is one of the main benefits for home gardeners who decide to cultivate their own crops. Gardeners can try their hand at making coleslaw, salads, or light side dishes featuring the crop. This early cabbage has a mild taste and can be used as a substitute for other cabbage types in dishes where the flavor is not crucial.