The Cabbage is Ready

The cabbage is ready to be transplanted into the garden, but the weather is not cooperating. All the plants are just waiting to bust out of the greenhouse, but it is still snowing just nine miles away, and with it being 23 degrees at night, we must keep waiting. I’ll go ahead and update you on the progress of the cabbage. Let’s start on day one, and we will show an easy way to get lots of starts. While working with the flats, we drop the little round seeds in five rows to a tray and set them on the heat table to begin their season of life.

There are probably around 200 to 300 seeds in a flat or tray. Of course you can seed fewer per row. The farther apart that you seed them, the longer they can stay in these trays. If you drop a seed every inch then they can be at the 6 leaf stage before transplanting. We seeded about every ½ inch or less. Can you see the 5 distinct rows? We have actually seeded more than just cabbage here. There is also rows of broccoli and cauliflower. They all look alike, so each row is labeled. We plant brassicas, members of the mustard family, together because their growing habits are the same. Brassica includes broccoli, brussel, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rape plant, rutabaga, and turnip.

As you can see at 4 days when the cabbage pops out of the ground, they have little round leaves and are already about ½ inch tall.

At about 9 days the seedlings are ready to transplant. Each row is transplanted into four-cell pony packs and labeled for the member of Brassica that it is. We have tried the six-cell pony packs, but the little seedlings get cramped long before we are ready to transplant them into the garden. If they have to wait very long, it will stunt the plants, and in the case of cauliflower, it stunts them so badly that the heads will not grow any larger than a silver dollar, so disappointing. Cabbage and Broccoli are much more forgiving.

This cabbage is 13 days from first seeding. The picture shows them a few days after being transplanted. they are doing well and are loving the warm house temperature of around 70 degrees. Actually, it is just a bit warmer under the florescent lights. They are ready to move to the greenhouse.

These plants are 26 days old. The cabbage does not mind the cold nights. We keep the greenhouse from freezing by covering the tables with Reemay and hanging a chicken brooder lamp or heat lamp under the Reemay above the plants every 6 to 8 feet. This hardens them off nicely.

Today the plants are ready to go into the garden. They are just over a month old and about 7 inches tall, still tenderly growing and fleshy but hardened off from their stay in the greenhouse. The greenhouse is just above freezing at night and in the high 80’s during the day.

We cover the tables with two layers of Reemay to help keep them warm at night. This table is out in the larger greenhouse, where we will plant slicing cucumbers directly in the ground. So we just hang the Reemay from the top of the cucumber fence with a clothespin every few feet. It is easily lifted to check on the plants and water them. Later this Reemay will hang down to the ground and protect the cucumbers while they are growing. Hopefully the weather will break, and we will be able to get the cabbage in the ground on Monday.

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