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How to Grow Cabbage and Cole Family Vegetables

The cole family of vegetables, comprises a number of hardy vegetables. Cole crops thrive in the cooler weather of spring and autumn. They may go dormant in the hottest days of summer. As hardy as they come, members of the cabbage family will withstand frost and freezes. Their flavor improves after a frost. They are among the last of the vegetables harvested in the fall, and can often be picked after a light snow. Members of this family have a strong flavor.

A member of the mustard family, cabbage has a strong, distinct flavor. Medical studies are showing that members of the cabbage family are beneficial to your health. The studies suggest that they help to guard against cancer, especially colon and rectal cancers. Of particular note in this category is broccoli.

Varieties of Cabbage:

  • Broccoli- A favorite member of the cabbage family. Broccoli is planted for it's immature flower or head. Pick it before the flower starts to unfold, or it will turn bitter. If planted in early spring, you can get a large head in the spring, followed by many side shoots all the way into late fall season.

  • Brussels Sprouts- This vegetable grows into a tall plant with a large stalk. By breaking off the lower leaves at the stalk, you encourage a round sprout to develop. While not too difficult to grow, this vegetable is susceptible to major aphid infestations, just as this flavorful vegetable is maturing. Spraying is all but a must. Brussels Sprouts were developed in Brussels in the 14th Century.

  • Cabbage- Cabbages are red or white, with white being the most common. Easy to grow in cool weather, they tend to rot in hot weather. Cabbage is highly susceptible to cabbage loopers. They are best grown as a fall crop. Cabbages harvested in the fall are often picked as the snow begins to fly.

  • Chinese Cabbage- Oriental varieties are growing in popularity.

  • Cauliflower- Cauliflower is grown for the white "flower", or head. It is best grown as a fall crop. Tie the leaves around the developing head to blanch it into a creamy white color.

Did you know? There are varieties of cabbage and cauliflower that are grown as a flower? These are varieties that have colorful leaves and flowers.

Days to Maturity:

Varies by early (65 - 70 days) to late season varieties (90 - 100 days).

Insects and Pests:

The cabbage family is extremely susceptible to insects. Among the most common are aphids, and cabbage loopers. Cabbage loopers  are the larva stage of a moth. Those white moths that visit your garden and yard are the culprits. Some people call them white butterflies. Effective treatment in the home garden is to place a screen over the plant so the moth can not lay her eggs. Commercial growers apply insecticides to control them. Aphids are controlled by frequent spraying. Organic controls in the form of soap or garlic sprays are also effective.


Cabbage falls victim to rotting during hot and humid weather. Other family members are fairly resistant to most diseases.

More on Plant Problems


All members of the cabbage family like cool and even cold weather. They can be among the first plants in your garden each spring. Start them indoors, and plant them before the last frost, freeze or snow. They will survive below thirty degrees. In the fall, they will be your last crops to survive the increasingly frequent frosts.

While the cabbage family thrives on cool weather, many varieties will rot, or go dormant during hot weather.


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Growing Cabbage - more on how to grow cabbage


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