About Brunswick Cabbage: According to ancient myth, the first heads of this vegetable came into being when the sweat of Zeus turned into cabbages. The Romans cultivated it and praised it for its healing qualities; philosphers Pythagorus and Cato both made the lowly cabbage the subject of a book. Cabbages were quite popular in colonial America, being pickled and preserved in every possible way to provide food for the winter. Brunswick cabbages in particular first became available to the public in 1924, and were prized for their tolerance of cold weather.
Brunswick Cabbage Germination: Start your seeds inside 8-12 weeks before the last spring frost, planting them in rich soil 1/2 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Because the first crop of cabbage should mature before the heat of summer, plant your seedlings about 4 weeks before the last expected frost; set them 12-18" apart in rows 3-4' apart, burying the stems about halfway up. For a fall crop, direct sow or transplant seedlings in midsummer. For companion planting benefits, plant cabbage with aromatic herbs or potatoes; avoid planting them with tomatoes or pole beans. Herbs such as thyme, peppermint, sage, and rosemary will repel the destructive white cabbage moth.
Growing Brunswick Cabbage Seeds: If hard frosts come, cover the young plants. Mulch around them to regulate soil temperature and control weeds, and keep the soil moisture even to prevent the cabbages from splitting. If a sudden excess of moisture occurs, grasp the plant and turn it 90 degrees clockwise; this severs enough of the roots to slow down growth and prevent splitting.
Harvesting Brunswick Cabbage: Harvest the cabbages as soon as feel firm and reach a good size. Small cabbages tend to be more tender, while large cabbages from fall growth keep well over the winter.
Saving Brunswick Cabbage Seeds: Late in the fall, mulch at least six different cabbage plants to ensure genetic diversity. If the climate is cold, digging up the entire plant and storing it over the winter will be necessary - keep it in moist sand at a temperature of about 40 degrees F. Replant 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost. If the heads are still firm, cut a deep X in the top to provide an easier exit for the stem. The stem will grow about 4-5' tall, with many four petaled yellow flowers. Allow the flowers to mature; when the seed pods form, pick them and allow them to dry. Remove them from the pods and store them in a dry, cool place for up to five years.
Detailed Brunswick Cabbage Info: Brassica oleracea. Biennial. 90 days. 7000 seeds per oz. 18-24" height. Produces 6-9 lb. "drumhead" type cabbages.