Questions on: Cabbage
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q: I have read conflicting material regarding flowering cabbage and kale. Some sources say they are edible, some say they are not. Also, should they be planted in the spring along with other plants or seeds or later in the year as some material states? (E-mail reference)
A: It depends on your definition of edible. I consider Brussels sprouts inedible, while other people don't. I can tell you that they are not poisonous but edible is something else. They can be planted along with other cold tolerant veggies in the early spring but in our area most folks will set out transplants to get a leg up on the season.
Q: I have some gardeners that called me about their cabbage plant leaves curling. They were planted before May 20. They have not noticed any insect damage or feeding. The plants have been exposed to pesticides. They said it is not happening to all of the plants. Is it safe to assume that pesticides are causing the leaves to curl? (Carson, N.D.)
A: It probably is the pesticide. The pesticide I am thinking of is some form of herbicide that was either an off-label or they may have over used the right stuff.
Q: I just had to tell you about my garden surprise. I've been watching the flowering cabbage and kale. When it froze, the plants hung down and I thought that was the end of them. But, when it warmed up to 40 degrees, they fluffed up. I cut one yesterday and let it thaw out. I removed the bottom leaves and rinsed it off. I put it in a bowl and it is beautiful. I cut the others and shared them with a relative. I'm going to add some evergreens today to make an arrangement. (Gwinner, N.D.)
A: Nice surprises are always great to receive especially in gardening and at this time of year! Thanks for sharing your story with me.
Q: I was wondering how I can best preserve my cabbage. Should I wrap it in plastic wrap or paper bags in the refrigerator or is there another way to make it last longer? I have quite a bit. (Dickinson, N.D.)
A: Refrigerate in plastic or similar wrap such as tupperware and refrigerate at 35 degrees, if possible.
Q: Do you know if there is a use for small (about baseball size) cabbage heads at high end restaurants, etc. These are nice hard, dense heads. There are some in our patch that won't mature much larger than that before frost. Just curious! (Cando, N.D.)
A: I canít believe there isnít some kind of use for them. I'd certainly try selling them to restaurants, especially where there are ethnic groups from Slavic countries. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?
Q: During our gardening season last year, the majority of cabbages harvested were unusable due to dead leaves within the head. The heads looked beautiful on the outside but when cut were full of brown dead leaves within the healthy ones. (E-mail reference, Enderlin, N.D.)
A: Good question! This is known as black rot, a bacterial disease that is seed-borne. To avoid, plant only certified seed, or treat the seed by soaking in water at 122 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Rotate your plantings (follow cabbage with beans, corn, tomatoes, etc.), don't overcrowd the planting, and plant in well-drained soil. Of course, avoid overwatering as well. Often when you visit a farmer's market, they will have a cabbage head cut in half to show that the crop is a healthy one, and you will not get any nasty surprises.
Q: Could you tell me what causes cabbage to split? We've tried several different varieties, but they all split. (Mobridge, S.D.)
A: Cabbage heads split because of too much water entering the head through the root system after the heads become solid. As the heads reach full size and become moderately firm, pull up on each plant to break a few rootsthus reducing the inflow of water, and possibly splitting.
The book that should tell you just about everything you'd ever want to know about veggie crop needs is from the Minnesota ExtensionService: "Midwest Vegetable Production Guide" (BU7094-S). Call 1-612-625-8173 and request a copy. I believe the cost is $10.
Q: Enclosed is a leaf from what I think is a tree that is growing in my flowerbed. Can you tell me what kind of tree it is? Can Prince Consort black currants from a nursery in Canandaigua, N.Y. be grown here? I would also like to know what causes cabbage to get brown leaves? I planted three junipers in with my apple trees. Will this hurt the apple trees? (Lisbon, N.D.)
A: The leaf looks like it came from a crabapple.
You mention Canadaigua, N.Y. As a teen, I used to go boating and camping therea beautiful spot! But, to grow your desired currant here is not very likely. It is probably a cultivar of Ribes sanguineum, which is hardy only to zone 5.
Concerning the cabbage, it sounds like grey mold, a fungus that commonly develops on stored cabbage. Cabbage needs to be stored cold, but without freezing and at a relative humidity of 98 percent or higher.
Just because you have apples and junipers on your property doesn't mean you'll automatically have cedar-apple rust. I've had the two on my property for the last 13 years with no dire results. Just keep your eyes peeled.
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