Tips & Techniques for Growing Cabbage
Growing Cabbage                                                                                                 
Varieties of Cabbage
Cabbage is a common vegetable that is easy to grow in the north or south.  It is frost tolerant but some varieties require a long growing season.   There are different types of cabbage ranging from the common green everyday cabbage to red and Chinese.  The size and shape of cabbage heads can vary a lot as well.  Some varieties require in excess of 100 days to mature.  However, there are some varieties with a much shorter growing season.  In general, the longer the required growing season, the larger will be the cabbage head.  If you live in a northern state (excluding Alaska where the sun shines all day) and raising it for cole slaw, you may want to select an early variety with a medium size head, e.g. Earliana.   For stir fry, Choi Toy is a good selection. 
Preparing the Soil
The best way to plant cabbage is in rows.  This makes weeding easier and if spaced properly will provide space for the heads to form.  Prepare the soil by tilling and marking off rows.  Fertile soil will produce larger cabbage heads.  If manure is available, working some into the soil will improve the yield.  Using a hoe, make a straight trench to guide you in planting later. Cabbage rows should not be located next to strawberries, pole beans or tomatoes. 
Planting Cabbage
Setting out plants in rows works best for the common head cabbage.  You can buy plants locally or grow your own.  Most places that sell vegetable plants will have cabbage plants.  If you grow them, you will need to start the plants about two months before planting time.  You can purchase seed from seed catalogs or from stores that sell vegetable seed. Buying seeds gives you more of a selection but buying plants is less trouble.  Wait until there is little chance of frost before transplanting them into the garden.  A light frost should not kill them.  Space plants about ten inches apart to allow room for the heads to form.  Sowing seed directly in the ground is best for Chinese cabbage similar to planting lettuce.  
Weeding & Plant Maintenance
Cabbage requires almost no care and maintenance except tilling and hoeing to control weeds.  Most of the weeds in a cabbage row can be easily removed with a hoe and weeds in the middles can be removed with a tiller.  You will need to till and hoe about three or four times during the growing season.  Cabbage plants require no additional maintenance, unless you encounter problems with pests.
Controlling Diseases and Insects
You should be able to grow cabbage without much of a problem with diseases.  The one insect that seems to be a problem is the green cabbage worm which also eats other similar plants, e.g. greens and brussels sprouts. It is the larva of a white cabbage butterfly.  You can see them eating holes in the leaves.  If the problem is not too severe, you may be able to control them by inspecting and picking the worms off the plants.  Wildlife can also be a problem.  Deer and groundhogs can eat a lot of your plants in one night.   I have resorted to putting part of my garden within a fence and use a garden spray for the cabbage worms.  If you find that a garden dust or insecticide is needed, make sure you read and follow the directions on the containers.  For specific details on controlling diseases and pests, click on the "Gardening Resources" tab and go to the Sources of Information on Vegetable Garden Diseases and Pests.
Cabbage is ready to be picked when the head is of a desirable size.  If you harvest cabbage early, it is best to cut the heads off and leave the stalk and root in the ground.  Three or four additional small fist size heads should form before the end of the growing season.  If you wait too long to harvest a cabbage head, it may start to rot or get eaten by animals.  In addition, large heads sometimes start to split open.  Fresh cabbage can be eaten in cole slaw or in stir fry. Many people make sour kraut from cabbage.  Chinese cabbage is good in salads and stir fry.  Cabbage can be stored for months in a cool dark location.