Frugal Gardener: Spring planting experiment – Cabbage

The winter of 2009-2010 was one of the worst South Carolina gardeners have witnessed in many years.

Unpredictable, unusual, unnerving are  descriptive of the weather.   Frustrated describes the gardener, itching to get dirt under his fingernails preparing the soil for crops to come.  Heavy snow in early February,  then constant heavy rain were causes of concern.

Mud meant no cultivation of any type–thus no early spring cool weather vegetables.

A warm period the last week in February, 2010 convinced me I just might be able to plant something in Ebuckets, and self watering bins; maybe, one raised bed was workable.

I checked.  Guess what?  Pay dirt!!

Having  never done  cool weather planting, I decided  to test some of my theories.

I would  use a 9 plant pack each of Golden Cross cabbage, Georgia collards, Bibb lettuce, and  Red Sail Lettuce   planted in   Ebuckets, self contained bins, and raised bed using square foot spacing to compare results.

Collards, cabbage and lettuce in raised bed

The ground was very wet, but one of the raised beds could be worked;  I felt safe planting collards- Georgia (9 in bed) and cabbages -Golden Cross (3 in bed).

I turned soil, racked off weeds, put about 2 cups of pelleted dolomite lime on (3×10) bed. Leveled  a 4 ft x 3 ft  bed area with bagged potting soil and planted  one plant in each 12 inch square  space.

In this 12 square foot area I planted 9 collard and 3 Golden Cross cabbage.

Planting   was done February 20; on March 3 cold snow again covered everything–these  plants survived. Here  is  pictorial history of cabbage and collards in the bed til harvest:

2-21-10 planted in bed 1 plant/12" square

4-1-10 Plants have survived a freezing snow storm and chickens

Rapid growth came as weather conditions warmed in April:

4-9-10 Plenty of rain brings fast growth

This growth is evident less than one week later.   A lot of rain had fallen.

Eleven days later :

4-20-10 Cabbages in rear; lettuce in front

I was very pleased with the performance of the bed with square foot spacing.   After planting I did very little maintenance; not even watering was needed this time of year.

How well  did the self watering  bin succeed?

I planted 6 ea of the Golden Cross in the same self watering  bin  I had used to grow peppers.  Stirred the mix; added about a cup of pelleted dolomite lime and 2 cups 10-10-10 mixed into top 2-3″ of mix. I did put plain mix in holes around plants to keep out of direct contact with fertilizer in soil. Watered around individual plants, through lid.

Here is the Golden Cross cabbage  report.  I forgot to take pictures of the collards, but performance was comparable.

4-9-10 Plenty of rain brings fast growth

4-4-10 Cabbage are pushing for space, 1 did not develop

Compare the growth of this photo  on left with the photo of the bed dated  4-1-10 you will notice an obvious  growth difference .   Next time I will plant 4 plants per self watering  bin.  5 are growing here, but there is definite pushing outward.

Began harvesting collards on 4-20-10; these cabbage are beginning to head:

4-20-10 Close up of Golden Cross in bin

I am  convinced that self watering containers are the answer to many gardening problems.   Growth is much better; I have had absolutely no insect problems; once the containers are  planted  watering is the only maintenance.

The plants in the bed and the ones in the self watering  bin came from the same 9 plant pack; they were planted the same day and grew side by side.

I caution that I do not use a studied approach to adding dolomite lime, epsom salts, or fertilizer to my plantings.    My by gosh, by golly approach is probably not the one you would want to emulate, it works for me; I am not a purist!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Larry Davis on April 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Lookin’ gooood, Lane!! Beautiful little plants. Wish you the Best of Luck!!! I’ve got my springtime planting done. Just finished this morning and the forecast is for cloudy / wet weather for the next 2–3 days. Should be good for my transplants. Already have onions, radishes & lettuce up & lookin’ good.



  2. Larry, My tomatoes are really coming on! They are my main focus right now. Experimenting with several methods of growing in small spaces………….we’ll see.
    Here’s to spring and life!!


  3. Excellent study, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little investigation on that. And he really bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!


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