Tips and Techniques for Successfully Harvesting Cabbage at the Perfect Time


Harvesting cabbage is an important skill for any gardener. Cabbage is a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. Knowing when and how to harvest your cabbage plants can ensure that you get the most out of your growing season.

When it comes to harvesting cabbage, proper timing is key. Cabbage is ready for harvest when the heads have reached their full size and are firm to the touch. You can also look for the outer leaves to begin to fold over the head, indicating that it is maturing.

To prepare for the harvest, first, remove any damaged or wilted leaves from the plant. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the entire head of cabbage from the stem, leaving about 4-5 inches of stem attached to the head. Be careful not to damage any nearby plants or the root system of the cabbage.

After harvesting, you have a few options for storing your cabbage. Cabbage can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a month, or you can also blanch and freeze it for longer-term storage. If you choose to freeze your cabbage, be sure to remove any outer leaves and slice or shred the cabbage before placing it in freezer-safe bags.

When growing cabbage, it is important to provide proper care and maintenance. Cabbage plants prefer cooler temperatures and thrive in well-drained soil. They also require regular watering, especially in warmer weather, to prevent the plants from wilting. Keep an eye out for any signs of pests or weed growth and take appropriate measures to address these issues.

If you experience any problems or have questions about growing cabbage, consult a gardening expert or refer to a comprehensive guide on cabbage cultivation. These resources can help troubleshoot common issues and provide guidance on the specific care needs of different cabbage varieties and species.

How And When To Harvest Cabbage

Harvesting cabbage is an important step in the growing process. Determining when your cabbage needs to be harvested can be tricky, but by observing the plant and knowing some key information, you can ensure that you harvest your cabbage at the optimal time.

A good rule of thumb is to harvest cabbage when the head feels firm and dense. Gently squeeze the head to check for firmness. If it feels soft or spongy, it may not be fully matured and needs more time to grow. Additionally, inspect the cabbage leaves for any wilting or yellowing, as these can indicate that the cabbage is past its prime.

The time it takes for cabbage to mature varies depending on the variety and growing conditions. On average, it takes about 70-100 days from planting to harvesting. If you started the cabbage from seeds, they’re typically ready for harvest within 70-80 days. However, if you transplanted seedlings, it may take longer, around 90-100 days.

When the cabbage head looks full and the leaves have a dark green color, it is generally a sign that the cabbage is ready to be harvested. Take a closer look at the cabbage stem – a sticky or milky fluid coming out of it can also be an indication that the cabbage is mature.

Before harvesting, be aware of some pre-harvest conditions. Cabbage is best harvested before it bolts – the process where the plant produces a tall flowering stalk. Bolting can negatively affect the taste and quality of the cabbage. Keep an eye out for pests such as cabbage worms or aphids, as they can damage the cabbage before you have a chance to harvest it. It’s also important to make sure the cabbage has enough space to grow, as crowding can inhibit its growth.

Now that you know when to harvest your cabbage, it’s important to prepare for the actual harvesting process. Start by carefully digging around the cabbage head, making sure not to damage the roots. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut through the stem at the base of the head, leaving a few outer leaves attached to protect the head.

After harvesting, you may have some questions about storing the cabbage. Cabbage can be stored for several months if stored properly. The ideal storage conditions for cabbage are cool temperatures between 32-40°F (0-4°C) and high humidity levels, around 90%. Store the harvested cabbage in a cool, dark place like a root cellar or refrigerator. If you don’t have a suitable storage area, you can also wrap the cabbage in plastic to help maintain humidity.

In conclusion, knowing when and how to harvest cabbage is essential for a successful and rewarding gardening experience. By observing the plant’s growth and following the proper harvesting techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, flavorful cabbage.

1 Pre-Harvest Maintenance

Before harvesting cabbage, there are a few important steps to follow in order to ensure a successful and abundant harvest. Pre-harvest maintenance includes taking care of the cabbage plants and making any necessary adjustments to their growing conditions.

  1. Check for readiness: Determine when your cabbage is ready to be harvested by examining the size and color of the heads. The outer leaves should be firm and have a deep, vibrant color. Cabbage heads are typically ready for harvest when they reach their desired size, which depends on the variety you planted.
  2. Inspect the plants: Before harvesting, inspect the cabbage plants for any signs of pests, disease, or other problems. This can include checking for beetles, weed growth, or symptoms of diseases like alternaria. Address any issues before proceeding with the harvest.
  3. Water and feed the cabbage: Make sure the cabbage plants have received adequate water and nutrients throughout their growth. Proper watering and fertilizing are essential for their development and can contribute to better head formation.
  4. Prune if necessary: If there are any damaged or diseased leaves on the cabbage plants, carefully remove them to promote healthier growth and prevent the spread of diseases.
  5. Protect from extreme temperatures: Be aware of the weather conditions, especially during the late stages of cabbage maturing. Cabbages can be sensitive to heat and extreme cold, so taking measures to protect them from the sun or frost can help ensure their viability.
  6. Manage pests: Keep an eye out for common cabbage pests, such as cabbage loopers and aphids, and take appropriate measures to control them. This can include using organic or chemical pest control methods.
  7. Keep weeds at bay: Remove any weeds around the cabbage plants, as they can compete for nutrients and make it difficult for the cabbages to grow properly.

By following these pre-harvest maintenance steps, you can ensure that your cabbage plants are healthy, well-nourished, and ready to be harvested. Taking care of these tasks before harvesting will help maximize the quality and yield of your cabbage crop.

2 Determining Readiness

Knowing when to harvest cabbage is essential to ensure that the heads are at their peak quality and flavor. Here are some important factors to consider when determining if your cabbage is ready to be harvested:

1. Maturing time: Different cabbage varieties mature at different rates. It typically takes about 70 to 100 days for cabbage heads to fully mature, depending on the species and growing conditions. Be aware of the specific maturing time for the cabbage variety you planted.

2. Head size: The size of the cabbage head is a good indication of its readiness. Most cabbage heads reach their peak size before they begin to split or crack, so be sure to monitor their growth regularly.

3. Firmness: A mature cabbage head should feel firm when gently pressed. If the head still feels soft or loose, it is not yet ready to be harvested. Give it more time to develop.

4. Leaf condition: Check the outer leaves of the cabbage. If they have yellowed or become damaged by pests or diseases, it may be a sign that the cabbage is ready to be harvested. However, if the outer leaves are still healthy and green, the cabbage may need more time to fully mature.

5. Stem and root condition: Inspect the stem and roots of the cabbage. If the stems have become thick and fully developed, and the roots are strong and well-established, it is a good indication that the cabbage is ready to be harvested.

6. Bolting: Bolting is a defense mechanism that causes the cabbage to prematurely send up a long flower stem. This can be triggered by warmer temperatures or other stressful growing conditions. If your cabbage shows signs of bolting, it is best to harvest it quickly to prevent the head from becoming bitter or inedible.

7. Pest problems: If you notice excessive pest damage on the cabbage heads, such as holes or chewed leaves, it may be a sign that the cabbage is becoming more vulnerable and should be harvested soon.

Once you have determined that your cabbage is ready to be harvested, it is important to properly prepare for the harvesting process:

1. Watering: Make sure to water your cabbage plants consistently to provide them with the moisture they need for optimal growth.

2. Weed control: Keep the area around your cabbage plants free from weeds, as they can compete for nutrients and hinder the growth of your cabbages.

3. Fertilizing: Regularly feed your cabbage plants with a liquid or granular fertilizer to ensure they have enough nutrients for healthy growth.

4. Pests: Take necessary steps to manage pests, such as cabbage worms or aphids, to protect your crop from damage.

By following these guidelines, you can determine the optimal time for harvesting your cabbage and ensure that your crop is of the highest quality.

3 Harvesting

When it comes to harvesting cabbage, there are a few key factors to consider. One of the most important factors is determining when cabbage heads are fully mature and ready for harvest. This can be done by looking at the size and firmness of the heads, as well as the color and shape of the outer leaves. A mature cabbage head should feel firm and solid, and the outer leaves should be tightly wrapped around the head.

Frequent watering is essential during the growth and maturing process to ensure the cabbage plants receive enough water. Cabbage plants require consistent moisture, so it’s important to water them regularly, especially during dry periods. Be sure to water the plants deeply, so that the water reaches the root system.

Harvesting can be done at any time depending on your preferences, but it is generally recommended to wait until the cabbage heads are full, solid, and well-formed. If you harvest them too early, the heads may not have fully developed and may not taste as good. On the other hand, if you wait too long to harvest, the heads may start to split, especially if there is a sudden increase in rain or humidity.

To harvest cabbage, simply take a sharp knife and cut the cabbage head off at the base, leaving some of the outer leaves in place. It’s a good idea to clean any dirt or debris from the heads before harvest to avoid contaminating the cabbage. For easier transportation, you can use bags or plastic wrap to keep the cabbage heads protected from damage.

After harvesting the cabbage, it’s important to take care of the remaining plants in the garden. Remove any weeds that may be growing around the cabbage plants, as they can compete for nutrients and water. Fertilizing can also be done at this time to replenish any nutrients that may have been depleted during the growth process. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage and application instructions for the fertilizer you choose.

If you encounter any problems during the harvesting process, it’s important to troubleshoot and determine what may have caused the issue. Weather conditions, pests, or improper care can all contribute to problems with cabbage growth and formation. Conduct some research or consult a gardening expert for more information on how to address specific issues you may be facing.

It’s worth mentioning that there are different species of cabbage, and some may have specific harvesting requirements or preferences. So, it’s always a good idea to do some research and gather specific information for the variety of cabbage you have planted. This will help you ensure that you harvest your cabbages at the right time and under the best possible conditions.

When the time comes to reap the rewards of your hard work, enjoy the fresh taste of your homegrown cabbage in salads, soups, stir-fries, or any other culinary creation you desire!

✿ Read More About Vegetables.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.