Brassica Oleracea #2 Cabbages from Seeds



Note: This writeup focus on growing behaviours of difference cabbage cultivars in same settings, compare and contrast the different cultivars. This post is purely based on growers' observations, your results may vary. No part of this can be reused without written permission from the blog writer.

Cabbages (front row) are typically huge and need lots of space to grow well. We also have concern on aphids and cabbage loppers. Being in a new site full of butterflies of all types, we really have great concerns if we can grow it well with minimum effort.

We tried with only 2 cultivars first during year end (around Nov timeframe through Jan). The extreme wet months gave us hell. We have lots of challenges as a result. Gotten all sorts of cabbage loppers issue too.

Cabbages are magnet to aphids too. At present, we managed to keep them at bay, by using neem cake powder and soil enzyme during soil treatment process.

We used planter beds of 120x120x25 (LxBxH) cm for our crops. Each bed can house about 9 plants. Giving each plant a space of about 40cmx40cm ( with a little foliage protruded on the planter edge).  

Seed Packs & Initial Seeding

#Seedings #InitialGrowing #Cisbay #AGNLite #TwoCultivars #BanLeeHuat #ChaiTaiSeeds

Both cultivars below are labelled heat resistant hybrid pack and are all non GMO. As much as we can, we try to grow our crops from non GMO seeds. Heirloom seeds are always preferred but to be realistic, to grow a temperate crop in tropical weather, we do need a bit of help, hence choosing the second best option, hybrid seeds.

Initial seeding is done in AGN Lite treated compost by Kin Yan Agrotech. Pretty similar to cauliflower. You can use seed plugs tray or 8cm planting pots ( 3-5 seeds in one pot, space out). Seedlings are transplanted once they developed at least 4 true leaves into planter plots. This typically takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

Both cultivars take about 12 to 13 weeks from seeds to harvest. The specified period is 11 to 12 weeks based on the seed packs. We do observed that the growth kind of stopped on week 12 for both. Hence decided to harvest them on week 13. 

The Journey of Growth

#CommonForBoth #BanLeeHuat #ChaiTaiCabbage 

The first batch is seeded around Nov, taking advantage of the cool weather. Our tropical green house temperature is in the range of 28 to 42 degree C on the cooler months. Two cultivars were tested. 

Both cultivars grew well from week 1 to week 7. After which, Ban Lee Huat Green Summer seem to be faster in term of crown development. Crown started forming well from week 7 while Chai Tai crowns are hardly visible till about week 9. There after, it catches up pretty fast. Both cultivars stop growing from on week 12. We harvest all the heads on week 13.

Below shows the BLH Green Summer cabbages with first sign of crown forming on week 7.5 from seeds.

Growth is gradual and steady through the weeks. 

The crown stopped growing after week 12. Or rather the growth is not really significant after week 12.

For the Chai Tai cabbages, the crown formation is slower. They are barely visible up to week 8 and growth is slow till week 10. But they caught up rather fast for the last 2 weeks.

Below shows Chai Tai cabbage crown is hardly visible on week 8.

The crown growth rate seem rather slow from week 9 to 10.

But this slow starter caught up well on week 11 and 12. By week 12, they have fully grown and eventually achieved very similar weight as Green Summer.

The Harvests

The average weight of the cabbages from both cultivars is around 700g after removing all the unwanted leaves. The outer tough leaves are used to cook soup stock or compost off.

For those that are effected by wetness and/or under pests attack, after removing all the effected leaves average weight is about 320 to 488g

The Challenges

#CabbageLoopers #WetnessKills

Cabbages like cauliflowers hate to get their crown wet. They are winter crops in temperate countries. Hence, top irrigation shower or rain is a no no once their crowns have formed. Ours were sheltered and only use drip irrigation system.

However, the weather is unpredictable during our planting period. We experienced 2 to 3 weeks of daily continuous rain toward the last 3 weeks of the planting cycle. This severely effected our crops. 

Not only was there not enough sunlight to help in the crowns development. The unexpected wetness caused 40% of the crops to  experience crown rot. The pictures below tell it all.

Cabbage Loopers added on to the pain too. Below 3 pictures shows the presence of them. The first from left, their poos. By the time you see them, damage likely already done. The loopers had already burrow deep inside the crown and created many holes within it. Picture in center showed the looper found deep inside the head. The last picture shows the badly damaged crown camouflaged under the outer leaves.

Forward Looking

#TryOutTheHotMonths #3CultivarsInstaedOf2 #IncreasePlantingDepth

It is not true that we do not experience setback. We do, just that we do not give up. Learn from failures, adapt and try again. Other than crops that need frost or day and night temperature difference, we will get there eventually.

We will restart again in the hottest month of the year to test out if heat resistant cultivars can indeed survive in tropical weather during the hottest months and to avoid the wetness too.  Hopefully we can get hold of the seeds of more cultivars to try out too.

The effective planting depth of the planter is actually only about 20cm as the soil is not fill to the brim. We intend to top it up all the way to the edge with mushroom bags compost enriched with well fermented chicken manure to give the plants roots more depth. 

We managed to keep the butterflies away by using netting and lure them to a separate part of the planting space with lots of flowering plants already. This should keep the cabbage loopers at bay.

Hopefully, we will have better results next round. Will update when data are all collected.

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