by Catherine Haug
(originally published April 8, 2010; updated April 10, 2011 with new information).
It’s spring and we are planning our summer gardens. One of the veggies sure to be included is cabbage, both for its nutritional value and its ability to grow in the cool seasons, plus keep well in winter storage.
As summer approaches, we long for leisurely summer picnics or camp-outs, and all the wonderful food treats that are staples of such events, including coleslaw. And during the fall and winter we make sauerkraut from fall, or late cabbage, as a tasty and nutritious food, and also as a way to preserve the cabbage.
One of our early gatherings was on Homemade Sauerkraut, and introduction to Lacto-Fermentation. Our presenter, Melanie, brought her family’s treasured kraut board to demonstrate how it is used to shred heads of cabbage. This wonderful wood and steel tool is now available at Lehmans (search for ‘cabbage cutter’), as is also a ‘wooden sauerkraut stomper.’
Varieties good for summer harvest are not necessarily good for fall harvest, and vice versa.
Cabbage for summer slaw
Choose “early“ varieties for summer slaw; start the seeds indoors (or in a cold frame) in early sprin , then transplant to your garden. It should be ready for summer harvest before it bolts (splits). Summer varieties may not thrive through the heat and long days of summer.
Cabbage for sauerkraut
Choose “fall” or “late” varieties which need all of our growing season to mature. Best to start the seeds indoors (or in a cold frame) in April, then transplant to your garden in the spring. It will grow all summer and into the fall, for fall harvest. One of the most popular cabbage varieties for making kraut is Late Flat Dutch.
[NOTE: this section updated with information from Don Bates, based on our climate and growing season].
For more information:
Here are a few web sites with information on this topic:
- Vegetable Growing Guide for Montana, by Cheryl Moore-Gough (MSU Ext.)
- Gardeners Network: How to Grow Cabbage Family Vegetables
- Voltaire’s Garden: Cabbage for Sauerkraut
- Mother Earth News: Got Cabbage? Make Sauerkraut
- Gardening: About.com: How to Grow Cabbage and Kale
- Figtree.org: natural pest control