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Growing Giant Cabbage
By Harry Willemse

Harry Willemse has been growing giant vegetables for many years. He won 1st place at the 2005 Port Elgin Pumpkinfest with a Giant Cabbage weighing in at 52 lbs. Here is brief description of how he grows them.

I like to start my cabbage plants in early to mid March & start the seeds in Miracle Grow moisture control growing mix. I use a 6 to 8 inch pot so as not to allow the plant to become root bound. If I were to start the plants in Jan or Feb. you would need to use a larger pot.

I transplant them in mid May in a part of the garden where I have worked in approximately 1 wheel barrel of well-composted manure. I allow each plant a plot about 8’ X 8’ in size. I fertilize them as I do with the rest of the garden, which is approximately 200lbs triple 16, per acre. If you grow more than one plant, I recommend you locate them apart from each other, just in case one develops a disease. Also, do not plant them where you have planted the cabbage the year before. They require a new site each year, but you can go back to the original site after a 2-year rest.

Cabbages thrive on a high Nitrogen fertilizer & prefer the soil to have PH between 7.0-7.5. I would suggest a formula of 20-10-10 once every two weeks. This formula can be used right up to harvest unless the cabbage is reluctant to heart-up. If this is a problem, a single feed of 10-10-20 should be applied before going back to the high Nitrogen feed.

Once the plants are well established I spray the plants whenever I spray my large pumpkins, with both fungicide and insecticide. Pests to look out for are the Cabbage Root Fly, White (cabbage) butterfly & caterpillars, Mealy Bug, Cabbage White Fly, Slugs & Snails.

Another problem to watch for is Splitting. This is usually caused by a heavy rain after an extended period of dry weather. The sudden up-take of liquid will be more than the plant can take & the heart will split wide open. To prevent this from happening, keep the soil around the plant moist at all times. I water as needed. They do require a good soaking once a week. I also believe partial shade would help for the hot days of summer. This will keep the plant from wilting in the extreme heat.

Care should be taken when harvesting a giant cabbage. It is very easy to break off the large outside leaves. Each outside leaf can weigh about 2 lbs each. Losing a few could mean the difference between 1st or 2nd place at your local weigh-off. Over time you will be able to fine-tune your own techniques that suit the area where you grow. These directions are only meant as guidelines. I’d like to wish you all the best growing these giants & hope to see you bring a big one to the next weigh-off.

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