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How to Grow Cabbage Indoors

Author DJ Herda

This excerpt is from the new book From Container to Kitchen: Growing Fruits and Vegetables in Pots, a comprehensive guide comprehensive guide to container gardening will show you how to save up to 70% on your produce bill—wherever you live!


More people than ever before are living in urban environments. Apartments, condominiums, spider holes stacked neatly one on top of another — just about any habitable space is being inhabited. That means that more people than ever before are no longer able to enjoy the benefits of traditional gardening. It’s difficult to walk out the back door, grab a shovel and begin rooting around in the yard when the “yard” consists of three cubic feet of poured concrete separating the high rise apartment building next door from the one in which you live. The fact that most people don’t have access to large yards or corner lots or sprawling acres in the countryside anymore doesn’t negate their innate desire to garden, of course. It only makes their desire to garden that much stronger. The gardening urge is genetically implanted in our souls. Gardening is as old an activity as modern mankind. Before ancient hunters came gardeners. Before ancient real-estate brokers came Gardeners.

In D. J. Herda’s From Container to Kitchen, he delves into how you can move from traditional outdoor gardening to benefiting from growing right in your home! Here’s an excerpt for how you can grow delicious and nutritious cabbage indoors!

Excerpt from the book From Container to Kitchen

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)
Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa, Pekinensis Group)

Habit: Head and upright

Cultivars: Numerous cultivars exist, including:

  • Cabbage: Bravo, Market Prize, Rio Verde, Savoy Express, Tropic Giant (hybrid) and Green Jewels (hybrid)
  • Chinese cabbage: Pak Choi Type — Joi Choi (hybrid)

Seed or transplants: Both

Pot Size: Medium

Water: Water to provide a uniform moisture supply to the crop. The container should be watered in the morning so that the foliage is dry before dark. Water sufficiently to moisten the soil to a depth of at least six inches. If gardening in pots outdoors, maintain a constant uniform moisture supply to produce a high-quality crop and to have the spring crop mature before high summer temperatures set in.

Comments: Chinese cabbage forms dense heads that may be very upright and tall (Michihili types) or round and barrel-shaped (Napa types). The leaves are slightly wrinkled and thinner than the leaves of regular cabbage with wide, crisp midribs. When choosing what type of cabbage to grow, remember that the darker green leaf and the red varieties provide more nutrition than the light green ones.

Seeds: Plant seeds to a depth approximately twice the thickness of the seed; water and tamp soil firmly. Cover pot with a clear plastic container or wrap, and wait for germination. Keep soil moist but not saturated, and keep pot out of direct sunlight to avoid overheating. Uncover at the first sign of sprouts. Thin to approximately one plant per foot for head varieties.

Transplants: Place in hole no deeper than original root ball, and tamp around stem firmly.

Soil: Cabbage (Brassica oleracea, Capitata Group) grows well in a wide variety of soils, but it prefers a well-drained sandy loam with high organic matter content. Soil pH should be 5.8 to 6.5.

Insects: Several worms (imported cabbageworm, cabbage looper, diamondback moth caterpillar), harlequin bugs, cabbage maggots, aphids and flea beetles are the major insect problems. Solutions: Pick off and destroy larger worms, and spray the plant with biologically friendly non-detergent soap mixed with water (1T per gallon water) for smaller insects.

Diseases: Black rot, wire stem, damping-off, downy mildew, Alternaria leaf spot and watery soft rot are the major diseases. Cabbage is more susceptible to wire stem and downy mildew than is Chinese cabbage. Chinese cabbage is more susceptible to Alternaria. Black rot causes the most serious damage and appears as V-shaped lesions down the leaves before spreading into the water-conducting system of the plant. This disease is caused by a bacterium that is seed-borne or that can be transmitted by transplants. Warm, moist weather favors the disease. Solutions: Compost tea contains organisms that attack fungal diseases and should be used as a supplement and treatment whenever possible. Otherwise, several commercially available fungicides (short-acting so as not to remain viable on the plant after harvest) are available online and at your local home and garden center. There is no control for black rot once it is established in a planting. Prevent the disease by purchasing transplants that are certified to be disease-free, or plant western-grown chemically treated seed.

Health Benefits: For the past two decades, researchers have understood the valuable role that phytonutrients play as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage human DNA cell membranes. But recently science has learned that phytonutrients in crucifers, such as cabbage, work at a much deeper level, actually signaling our genes to increase the production of enzymes designed to aid in the detoxification of harmful compounds — the ultimate body cleanser!

The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables initiate genes that play a complex role in placing into action dozens of detoxification enzyme partners, each balancing perfectly with the others. This natural synergy utilizes our cells’ own abilities to disarm and clear free radicals and toxins from our systems. These include carcinogens, the primary reason that crucifers lower our risk of cancer more effectively than any other fruit or vegetable. In fact, studies have proven that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables create a much lower risk of prostate, colorectal and lung cancer. In a study of more than 1,000 men conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, those eating 28 servings of miscellaneous vegetables a week showed a 35 percent lower than average risk of prostate cancer, while those consuming only three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables each week had a 41 percent lower prostate cancer risk.

In addition to its cancer-preventive phytonutrients, cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from harmful free radicals. Cruciferous vegetables have also been beneficial in promoting women’s and gastrointestinal health, as well as defending various cardiovascular diseases.

Ready for the Kitchen: When plant is fully formed and deep in color, after approximately 90 – 100 days. Store in a refrigerator crisper to retain freshness.

Annual Savings: Approximately $45 per year per person on average.

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