Chinese cabbage is an excellent cool-season choice for growing in your vegetable garden. Varieties can be tall and upright or barrel-shaped. Their leaves are thinner and more wrinkled than standard cabbage.
Plant Chinese cabbage from transplants in early spring, or direct seed them in the fall. For spring planting, be certain to plant early enough that the cabbage will not be subject to hot temperatures. They prefer temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Mature cabbage can grow in temperatures as cold as 18 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Space transplants 9 to 12 inches apart to grow 2 to 3 pound heads. If you will be using cabbage for sauerkraut, increase the spacing to allow the heads to grow larger. If you direct seed Chinese cabbage in spring, you risk that the seedlings will bolt, shooting up a flower stalk, if they experience a stretch of nights with cold temperatures.
Direct seed Chinese cabbage seeds in autumn in sandy soil. Keep the soil moist and protect the seedlings from wind with row covers. Thin plantings to 9 to 12 inches apart once they have three sets of leaves.
Soil for Chinese cabbage should be high in organic matter such as compost. Fertilize cabbage with an organic fertilizer once it is established. The best soil pH is 5.8 to 6.5. You can have your soil tested by your local community cooperative extension if you are uncertain whether you need to supplement it.
Water cabbage deeply early in the morning to a depth of at least 6 inches. Shallower watering encourages the roots to remain shallow, which weakens the vegetable. Use mulch to conserve moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth.
Cabbage worms can be a nuisance and destroy young crops. Place cylinders of cardboard around seedlings to help prevent worms from chewing through delicate stems. Use organic methods of integrated pest management to control other garden pests. Place the cabbage patch inside of a fence that will deter wildlife from eating your crops.