How to grow a bountiful harvest of healthy cabbage without chemicals

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Probably, there is not a single vegetable garden in which such a primordially Russian vegetable crop as cabbage is not grown. This vegetable was brought from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, but, despite the diversity of the Russian climate, it perfectly took root in our dachas and homestead plots. It is not difficult to grow a decent harvest of cabbage, but for this you need to figure out what diseases this culture is susceptible to and what pests are not averse to “crunching” cabbage leaves.

Growing cabbage in the garden

In the previous article of the cycle “Organic farming: biological protection against pests and weeds” he talked about what ecological methods of combating diseases and pests are used in organic farming, and in the article “Diseases and pests of cucumber – we protect ourselves without chemistry” we figured out how to care for cucumbers without using harmful chemicals. Today we’ll talk about growing cabbage, consider methods of biological pest and disease control of this crop.

There are many types of cabbage today. These are white-headed varieties known to all, which were grown in the days of Ancient Russia. Cauliflower and red cabbage became widespread in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. The cookbooks of this time also mention kohlrabi, which was called “repina cabbage”. Varieties such as Brussels, Savoy and broccoli began to grow here in the second half of the last century..

It is not without reason that cabbage has taken root in our lands with an unstable climate. A feature of this culture is that it calmly tolerates frosts down to minus 3 degrees, and the Savoy one becomes even tastier from a temperature of minus 5.

Despite the variety of varieties, the cultivation technique for each of them is not particularly different. Cabbage is very fond of water. With insufficient watering, it is almost impossible to grow a good harvest, in addition, during watering it is necessary to observe uniformity, otherwise the head of cabbage may crack..

It is best to grow cabbage on loamy organic-rich soils with neutral acidity, and if the soil is acidic, it is necessary to apply lime in late autumn or early spring in a proportion of 4–5 kg per 10 sq. M. Such cultivation of the land is a wonderful prevention of most fungal diseases, including such a dangerous disease as cabbage keel, the spores of which die in an alkaline environment..

Planting cabbage seedlings

The most suitable fertilizer for any type of cabbage is rotted cow dung or well-matured compost. The use of unripe compost or fresh manure makes the leaves watery, tasteless and unstable to various diseases. For a head of cabbage to grow large, it must receive a lot of food. Therefore, even on highly fertile lands, a sufficiently large amount of organic fertilizer must be applied for cabbage (8–10 buckets of manure or compost per 10 square meters). Any kind of feeding with fermented nettle infusion, diluted with water in a ratio of 1: 5, responds well. The first feeding should be carried out 2-3 weeks after planting the seedlings, and then – with an interval of two weeks 5-6 times.

A large number of tasty and healthy dishes can be prepared from cabbage; many varieties are remarkably stored throughout the winter and are a source of essential vitamins and minerals. However, not only people love cabbage for its juicy crispy leaves. This culture in the garden has many pests that need to be learned to resist.

Cabbage pests

A variety of flying and jumping insects sometimes give the gardener a lot of trouble. The main dangerous pests of cabbage include: cabbage (cabbage white), cruciferous fleas and bugs, cabbage fly, as well as naked slugs.

Cabbage white

This pest is widespread throughout almost the entire territory of Russia and neighboring countries. Belianka eats not only cabbage, but also all other cultures of the cruciferous family (radish, turnip, radish, watercress and others).

Cabbage butterfly

Cabbage is a butterfly with white wings with a black border. These butterflies feed on flower nectar, mate and lay their eggs on the underside of the cabbage leaf. Caterpillars hatch from the eggs are yellowish-green in color with black spots, which feed on cabbage leaves, leaving only the central veins of them.

A good effect in the fight against this pest is given by spraying cabbage with a solution of wood ash at the rate of: 2 glasses of ash and a tablespoon of liquid soap per 10 liters of water.

If the tracks are few, they can be harvested by hand. Some gardeners on cabbage beds arrange sticks with eggshells suspended from them. It is believed that the shell scares off the cabbage that is about to lay eggs. The butterfly takes the shell for its own kind and “thinks” that the territory is already occupied.

Caterpillars on cabbage

Spraying cabbage beds with infusion of tomato tops or a decoction of onion peels will scare off the cabbage whitewash with an unusual smell, and it will not multiply in your beds.

Cruciferous fleas and bugs

These pests cause significant damage to all cruciferous crops, and cabbage especially suffers from them. Cruciferous fleas are small black beetles up to 3 mm in size with hopping hind legs. Cruciferous bugs are insects with a bright color – red, yellow or white stripes, spots or lines on a black or green-metallic background..

Cruciferous bug

Flea beetles and bugs scrape off the top layer of leaves and suck out plant juices, causing yellowing, wilting and drying of cabbage plants. These insects are especially dangerous for seedlings. A large number of pests in the garden can lead to the death of young plants.

A fairly effective means of combating during the period of mass appearance of flea beetles and bedbugs is to dust cabbage beds with a mixture of tobacco dust with fluff lime or ash in a 1: 1 ratio. This procedure is carried out several times with an interval of 4–5 days. With a small number of bugs, you can collect by hand, and for catching fleas, place cloth flags on the beds, smeared with non-drying glue.

Cabbage fly

This dangerous pest is similar to the common house fly. She lays eggs in the ground at the base of the stem, from which white larvae, about 8 mm long, hatch. The larvae can move from one plant to another, gnawing at the stem and getting along it to the root. Damaged plants become bluish-lilac in color, grow poorly, wither and die.

Red eyed cabbage fly

The main enemy of the cabbage fly and its larvae is such predatory insects as ground beetles, which feed on the larvae of the pest. We talked about how to attract these beneficial insects to our land in the article “Biological protection against pests and weeds”.

The main task in the fight against the cabbage fly is to prevent it from laying eggs. To do this, the ground around the plant can be sprinkled with ash or lime (the larvae die in an alkaline environment), you can also build a mechanical barrier in the form of a cardboard collar 10 cm in diameter, which is worn on the base of the stem. Such an obstacle prevents the larvae from reaching the cabbage. Well-mulched soil also acts as a shield against cabbage flies, but mulch is a great hiding place for slugs and is dangerous to use in cabbage beds..

Naked slugs

Slugs are worm-like molluscs that have a sharp tongue with teeth, with which they bite into leaves and can eat them to the very base. Slugs are activated in rainy, wet weather, feed at night, and during the day they hide under various shelters (boards, heaps of branches, grass). If there is a lot of pest on the site, then such shelters can be made artificially in the beds and used as traps, from under which slugs can be manually collected during the day.

To combat slugs, an infusion of bitter pepper, prepared according to the following recipe, helps well: 1 kg of capsicum is crushed, poured with 10 liters of water and infused for two days. Then it is brought to a boil and insisted for another day, then the pepper is ground, the resulting mixture is squeezed and filtered. This concentrate can be used immediately, or can be stored sealed in a cool, dark place. To treat cabbage beds, 125 grams of concentrate is diluted in 10 liters of water, 40 grams of laundry soap diluted in hot water is added, and the soil is sprayed in places where slugs accumulate and feed..

Slugs on cabbage

If you sprinkle the ground around the cabbage with mustard powder, then slugs will not be able to get into your garden, freshly slaked ground lime and a mixture of ash and bleach have the same effect.

Various plants planted near the cabbage will be a good protection against all the pests described above. If you plant garlic around the garden, the cabbage fly will never fly to it. Basil, mint, dill, coriander will scare away flea beetles, bedbugs and cabbage whites. And cucumber grass with its rough leaves will not let slugs go to cabbage.

Today, many gardeners use covering nonwovens such as lutrasil, spunbond and agril as a control of flying pests. Pests simply cannot get close to the plants covered by them..

Diseases of cabbage

No less than pests, cabbage can suffer from various diseases caused by fungi and other soil microorganisms. These diseases occur during prolonged rainy weather, or due to improper cultivation techniques. The most dangerous diseases of cabbage are considered: keela, yellowness (fusarium wilting), black leg and white rot.

Keela cabbage

The most dangerous fungal disease, most often affecting white cabbage and cauliflower. The first signs of the disease are: stunting, yellowing and wilting, growths on the roots of various shapes (spherical, vesicular, fusiform). Keela most often affects cabbage growing on waterlogged, acidic soil with insufficient nutrients.

Keela cabbage is an insidious disease that is easier to prevent than to cure (damaged plants cannot be saved). Once in your garden, the spores of this fungus can persist there for 6–8 years, and it will be extremely problematic to remove them. You can put the keel in the soil by planting the purchased diseased seedlings. Therefore, when buying, you must carefully consider the roots of young plants and try not to purchase seedlings from random people on the market..

Cabbage keel on roots

To prevent the disease, in case of increased acidity of the soil, it is necessary to liming it in autumn or spring at the rate of 200-300 grams of lime-fluff per 1 sq. M. land. For these purposes, you can use dolomite flour in the same quantities..

Planting seedlings at an early date will help prevent the disease, since cold ground is less dangerous – keelas do not develop at low temperatures. To avoid infection, fresh manure or compost should not be poured into the holes; wood ash, introduced into the soil during planting, helps to prevent disease..

It is important that if the cabbage was affected by the keel, then cruciferous plants cannot be planted in the place of its growth for 6 years. Diseased plants are not allowed to be piled on the compost heap, they must be collected and burned.


A fungal disease that affects seedlings and young seedlings. The presence of the disease can be determined by the thinning and blackening of the stem base with the formation of a characteristic constriction. The stem rots and is easily pulled out of the ground.

Black leg of cabbage seedlings

High humidity and sharp fluctuations in air temperature, as well as thickened plantings and poor ventilation, can provoke the development of the disease. It should be noted that the black leg most often develops on cabbage seedlings grown in greenhouses..

To prevent the occurrence of the disease, the soil must be treated with a solution of raspberry-purple potassium permanganate before planting seeds. To avoid waterlogging while watering seedlings will help dusting the earth with sifted ash, a layer of 1–2 cm. If you notice diseased plants, you should immediately remove them from the garden..

Yellowness (fusarium wilting)

This very harmful disease is characteristic of early varieties of white cabbage and cauliflower; kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts and broccoli can also be infected. The causative agent of the disease is a soil microorganism that penetrates through the roots or damage to the plant into its ground part. This makes it difficult for water to move within the crop and the cabbage withers. This disease is especially dangerous in dry hot weather. At this time, fusarium wilting can lead to the complete death of your garden. The optimum soil temperature for infection is 15-17 degrees, and air temperature and humidity are not of particular importance for this pathogenic microorganism. The main indicator of the development of the disease is the yellow-green color of the leaves and their loss of turgor. Then diseased leaves fall off, the growth of the head slows down and bends.

Fusarium wilt of cabbage

If infected plants are found, they should be immediately removed from the garden. Unfortunately, today there are no reliable measures to combat this scourge, so scientists have developed varieties that are resistant to yellowness. If you know that an outbreak of this disease is possible in your garden, it is best to use them for growing. The most resistant varieties of white cabbage include: Kolobok, Extra, Triumph, Novator, Valentina and many others; among the colored ones, Garantia and Moscow Cannery are especially resistant.

White rot

A fairly common fungal disease that affects most cabbage varieties. Plants planted on heavy loamy soils are especially ill..

White rot primarily affects the root collar and lower leaves of cabbage. Infected tissues become discolored, look watery, and a plaque of cotton-like white mycelium forms on their surface. Over time, the mycelium thickens, turning into large black spots of various shapes. White rot is especially harmful during storage, this disease significantly reduces the indicators of “keeping quality” – cabbage infected with this fungus is not stored for a long time.

White rot of cabbage

White rot usually progresses during rainy weather or high humidity in greenhouses. Today there are no effective measures to combat this disease, and so far it has not been possible to develop varieties that are resistant to this disease. Therefore, the main way to prevent the development of white rot is to observe crop rotation and proper agricultural technology when growing cabbage. The later dates of sowing seeds and planting seedlings intended for seed purposes will help to reduce the vulnerability of plants. Harvesting cabbage before frost will save the crop from developing disease during storage. If foci of infection are found, both in the beds and in cellars, other vegetable stores, they should be immediately removed and destroyed by burning.

Other problems with growing cabbage

In order to grow a decent harvest of cabbage, it is necessary to observe the optimal watering and feeding regime. If the cultivation technique is violated for any reason, problems such as cracking the head of cabbage or the development of top rot become possible..

The heads of cabbage crack when the period of slow growth is abruptly replaced by more vigorous development, while the upper leaves already stop growing and harden, and the inner ones begin to build up mass, as a result of which the head of cabbage breaks. This phenomenon is associated with a sharp change in weather conditions, when cold and dry weather abruptly changes to warm and humid. Head cracking can be observed with uneven watering and uneven application of organic fertilizers.

Cracked head of cabbage

Top rot of cabbage looks like the dying off of the edges of the upper leaves, and it is associated with an irrational, unbalanced diet. The manifestation of this problem means that there is an excess of nitrogen and potassium in the soil, as well as a lack of calcium and phosphorus. To solve the problem will help the introduction of phosphate rock into the soil in a proportion of 2.5 kg per 10 square meters..

Cabbage is considered a valuable dietary product containing a large amount of vitamins and minerals necessary for humans. Cabbage dishes are used in various diets aimed at stabilizing and reducing weight, normalizing metabolism. Having mastered simple agricultural techniques, having studied natural methods of protection against pests and diseases, you can completely abandon the use of harmful chemicals, which will give you the opportunity to provide your family with an environmentally friendly product, which is especially important in our time.

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