Growing Cabbage (Vegetable Plants)

Care of Plants On Arrival

Your plants have just spent up to 3 days without light or water and may have yellow leaves or show evidence of wilting. Through years of shipping experience, we have found that more than 98% of these plants will survive and thrive if you follow the simple care instructions below.

Please take your plants out of the shipping box as soon after their arrival as possible, taking care not to damage any stems or leaves as you free the plants from the cardboard packaging.

If the soil is dry, water gently but thoroughly from above or set the pot in a saucer of water for an hour or so -- just long enough for the soil in the pot to become thoroughly moist, but not soggy.

Place your plants in bright but indirect light indoors or, if temperatures permit, outdoors in the shade, sheltered from the wind. Don't put your plants in full sun right away because their leaves are tender after the trip and could be burned (sunscalded) or fall off if exposed to too much sun too soon. Allow your plants to adjust gradually over the next few days to increasing amounts of sunlight.

We've tried to time the shipping of our young plants so that they arrive at or near the appropriate time for planting in your climate zone. If, however, the weather is still raw and a frost seems likely, transplant your plants into larger pots, taking them outside during the day when the weather is mild and bringing them in whenever frost or blustery cold weather threatens. Young plants are more tender than mature plants, and even if the last spring frost is already past, near-freezing temperatures and cold spring winds are capable of killing your new plants. Expose your young plants to outdoor conditions gradually, giving them a chance to harden off before they're planted out. When the weather does settle, then it's time for planting out.

Planting Out

Choose a planting location in full sun with rich, fertile soil and good drainage. Apply 5-10-10 fertilizer to the planting area and mix into the top 3-4in of soil. If the weather is hot and sunny, plant in the cool of morning or wait until late afternoon to minimize stress.

Dig a hole that will generously accommodate the plant's root ball. To remove a plant from its pot, flip the pot over, tap on its bottom, and slip the plant out. Do not pull the plant out by its stem. Loosen the root ball and tease the roots apart if they are matted or tangled. Set vegetable starts into their holes so that the tops of the root balls are level with or just slightly below the surrounding soil. Recommended spacing between plants is indicated on the White Flower Farm label.

Push soil back into each planting hole and firm the soil around each plant to eliminate air pockets. Water thoroughly to further settle the soil. Keep the soil around the plants moist but not soggy and provide shade (with row cover, cardboard, or lath) for the first few days. Transplant shock is not uncommon, but within a week or less the plants' roots will regain their ability to provide moisture to the foliage. Remove shading once plants perk up.

Continuing Care

If rain is scarce, water your vegetable plants deeply and regularly (weekly, or more often in hot, dry weather). Mulch plants to keep the soil cool, weed free, and evenly moist. Side-dress with compost or a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer about 3-4 weeks after planting, or water with a kelp- and/or fish-based fertilizer.

Harvest Cabbage when heads are the size of softballs by cutting, not pulling, the heads from your plants. Harvest before the first frost and store in a cold, moist area with good air circulation.

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