Cabbage is part of the Brassica genus and thrives in cold weather. It produces a thick stalk and a dense cluster of edible leaves that may be used in soups and in casseroles. While care must be taken to ensure that the cabbage grows into a dense mass rather than a skinny, weedy specimen, cultivation of cabbage is a straightforward procedure. Understanding when to plant cabbage and the conditions in which it thrives is an important part of pulling in a healthy crop.
Cabbages are a cool-season crop and they should be planted in the spring or in the early fall. Growing cabbage during the summer causes the cabbage to wilt or to fail to bloom. Because of this factor, you can grow two cabbage crops during one year, one during the spring and one during the fall. While cabbage seed can be placed directly in the garden, you may also start them two weeks earlier in seed flats, keeping them in a controlled environment.
According to the University of Illinois, save planting or transplanting your cabbages for cloudy, overcast days or days when it is actively raining, especially if you are transplanting in the early fall. A cooler, rainy climate is ideal for rapid growth of cabbages and when planting in the early fall, it eases the transition to the warmer weather.
There are many types of cabbages and before you choose the ones you want for your garden, look into how long it takes them to ripen versus the number of days that you have in your growing season. For example, if you tend to have a short spring followed by a hot summer, plant Savoy cabbage, which has a good resistance to heat. A short growing season is compatible with Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, which ripens within 63 days, rather than Savoy King, which needs to ripen for 85 days before harvesting.
Whether you are planting cabbages in the early spring or the early fall, plant them in rows that are between 1 and 2 feet apart. Sow the seed between 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the soil and keep them moist for the first few days. Sow seeds very thinly on the ground or transplant seedlings into the rows. Water fall cabbages thoroughly to protect them from the summer heat.