(Brassica oleracea, Capitata Group)
Because of its large size, cabbage is not usually recommended for container growing. Fortunately, some dwarf varieties are the size of a softball and meant for eating fresh. These mini cabbages are very nice container plants and are welcome additions to late-summer salads at a time when other salad greens are well past their prime.
PICK YOUR POT
You can grow up to six dwarf varieties in a large self-watering container. Space them closely to keep heads small.
For a summer crop, start seeds four to six weeks before the last expected spring frost. Sow the seeds about half an inch deep, two or three seeds per cell. Cabbage seeds germinate best at around 75°F (24°C). When the seedlings emerge, thin to a single seedling, lower the temperature to 60°F (15°C), and keep it there until it’s time to transplant. Space plants about eight inches apart.
Cut the heads at soil level as soon as they reach a harvestable size. (This will vary depending on the variety.)
Flea beetles can set back seedlings, but they lose interest when the plants age and become tougher to munch on. Protect with row covers right from the moment of planting.
Green cabbages, but not reds, are also prey to the dreaded cabbage caterpillar. Cover the plants with a row cover when those pretty white butterflies are flitting around, so they can’t lay the eggs that will become the voracious caterpillars.
PICK YOUR PLANT
‘Alcosa’: a savoy; when spaced about eight inches apart, produces single-serving heads
‘Arrowhead’: green, but cone shaped rather than round
‘Gonzales’: round and green with a sweetly spicy taste
‘Red Express’: round and red; compact plant with small head
‘Gonzales’ produces a small, four- to six-inch head on a compact plant that’s perfect for containers.