Cabbages are easy to grow but are heavy feeders. They require adequate amounts of water and nutrients to produce large heads with healthy leaves.
Fertilizing your cabbage is very essential to raising a successful crop.
However, all fertilizers are not created equal – they are created differently. The difference between the best fertilizers and average fertilizers is drastic – you can end up having a healthy crunchy cabbage or bitter lifeless cabbage.
Follow our how-to guide to add the best fertilizer that will give the necessary nutrients to your cabbage. Read on.
Cabbage Fertilizer Needs
Adding fertilizer to your garden soil is the best way to enrich and supply the necessary nutrients for your cabbage plants. The fertilizer can either be organic or inorganic.
When using organic fertilizer, such as homemade compost, incorporate the organic fertilizer 2in. to 4in. (5cm. to 10cm.) into the garden soil.
Do this in early winter or late fall – this gives the compost enough time to decay and break down completely so that the valuable nutrients are made available for the cabbage plants in the spring.
Alternatively, you can add an inorganic fertilizer (chemical fertilizer) to the garden soil to feed your cabbage plant. Make sure that you choose a balanced inorganic fertilizer. The ideal N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) ratio is 1-1-1, which can be found as NPK 10-10-10 or NPK 12-12-12.
The Best Fertilizer for Cabbage
While NPK 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 is a balanced fertilizer for cabbage, we recommend that you do a soil test before planting the cabbage to determine the specific nutrient needs of your garden soil.
However, if you aren’t able to do a soil test, we advise that you incorporate NPK 8-16-16 fertilizer into the garden soil 2wks before transplanting the cabbage seedlings.
After transplanting and when the roots are established, if you find out that your soil is deficient in Nitrogen, then you need to carefully side-dress your cabbage plant with a high nitrogen fertilizer such as an NPK 46-0-0 or NPK 27-3-3 fertilizer.
While excess Nitrogen in the soil should be avoided, fertilizing your cabbage plant with phosphorous-rich fertilizer will stimulate root formation and promote the growth of the head.
How to Fertilize Your Garden Soil?
Before adding fertilizer to your garden soil, do a soil test. You can use the test results to amend the soil and address any nutritional deficiencies. Cabbage plants prefer soil with a pH of about 6.0 to 6.5.
It also requires adequate amounts of micronutrients like magnesium, calcium, zinc, and sulfur for optimal growth.
Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when adding fertilizer to your garden soil or cabbage plant.
Foremost, you’ll need to incorporate a slow-release, pellet or granular fertilizer into the soil before planting your cabbage.
You can till the fertilizer directly into your garden bed as you prepare the soil for spring planting. Once your cabbage plants have grown two to four true leaves or are about 6in. tall, you can begin feeding them with fertilizer.
Don’t apply the pellet or granular fertilizer, instead, apply a diluted solution of a balanced liquid (or water-soluble) fertilizer and make sure that you carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions on mixing the fertilizer with water and spraying it around your cabbage plants.
Repeat the fertilizer application after two or three weeks using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer; cabbage needs nitrogen more in the early stages. However, avoid using a fertilizer with high levels of nitrogen, as this will encourage excess foliage growth and reduced head formation.
If you planted the cabbage in sandy soil or have lots of rain that wash away soil nutrients, you may need to apply the fertilizer more often.
Ensure that you aren’t using a fertilizer that contains a weed killer, as this may cause damage to the cabbage plants. At this stage of plant growth, we advise that you avoid pellet or granular fertilizers as they will burn your cabbage plants if they come in direct contact.
Some people believe that you should stop feeding fertilizer to the cabbage plants once the cabbage heads begin to develop. They claim that feeding your cabbage plants with fertilizer at this time may cause the cabbage to split. This is what we also recommend.
Others claim that the second dose of liquid or water-soluble fertilizer should be applied when the cabbage plants begin to form heads as this will give the plants the necessary nutrient and energy to produce large, nicely-formed heads.
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If it’s possible to make homemade fertilizer for your cabbage plants, use it instead of using commercial fertilizer. Though it may be more difficult to make sure that the cabbage plants are getting the nutrients they need.
Aside from adequate fertilization, cabbage plants need adequate watering to grow well. Ensure that the cabbage gets about 1in. of water each week.
If there isn’t enough rainfall, consider adding supplemental irrigation. Without adequate watering, the cabbage heads will dry out and become bitter.
Add an herbicide-free mulch to the garden soil to help keep it moist and to discourage weeds that may compete with a cabbage’s shallow roots from growing.
The best soil temperature for growing cabbage plants is 60°F to 65°F.
Young cabbage plants exposed to lower temperatures (below 45°F) for a long period may bolt or form loose heads. Therefore, cover your cabbage plants if cold weather is expected.
Now that you know about the best fertilizer for cabbage and learn how to fertilize cabbage plants, it’s time to get the best fertilizer to fertilize your cabbage. Some of the best fertilizers for cabbage include:
- J R Peters Jacks Classic All Purpose 20-20-20 Fertilizer
- Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food
- Triple 10 All-Purpose Liquid Fertilizer
- Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer
- Shultz All-Purpose Plant Food Plus
Try as much as possible to avoid buying any average fertilizer product at your local gardening store. Many of these average fertilizer products may not produce the best or required results.