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Graham Rice on Trials

Updates on trials and awards from the Royal Horticultural Society by Graham Rice

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Autumn cabbage: awards and techniques

Posted by Graham Rice on 13 Jan 2010 at 01:48 PM

Autumn cabbage trial, RHS trials, Wisley, netting, pigeons. Image ©GardenPhotos.com. Do not reproduce without permission.Autumn cabbage is a valuable crop at a time of year when the season of many summer vegetables is over. So almost fifty different cabbages intended to crop during September, October and November were trialled at Wisley last autumn. Both green and red cabbages were included. As is often the case with the Wisley trials, it wasn't just a matter of finding the best varieties but an interesting aspect of their cultivation was also revealed.

Chickweed is a continuing problem on the trials field and this is especially important in relation to cabbages as it is thought to harbour cabbage white fly. So the young plants were planted in small holes in black landscape fabric which was laid across the planting area. The result was that cabbage white fly was not a problem. It also turned out to bring a double advantage as planting through the landscape fabric prevented cabbage root fly infestation and so the use of collars was not necessary.

Cabbage 'Minicole', Wisley, RHS, AGM. Image ©Thompson & Morgan Seeds.

The assessment panel also noted that many of the varieties produced heads which were too large for the home gardener. The rich Wisley soil, and the fact that the plants were liquid fed with Ammonium nitrate, clearly played a part. But the panel recommended that to produce more useful heads around 500-750g/18-26oz in weight the spacing be no greater than 45×45cm/18in×18in or even as close as 38x38cm/15in×15in. It was suggested that ‘Redcap', a naturally very small red cabbage, could be planted even more closely - 30x30cm/12x12in

The panel recommended that some Awards of Garden Merit given at previous trials should be re-confirmed, some new awards should be a given, and that awards should be removed from a couple of varieties.

Cabbage 'Red Jewel', Wisley, RHS, AGM. Image ©Thompson & Morgan Seeds.

The top varieties included ‘Castello', ‘Consulate', ‘Embassy', ‘Hotspur', ‘Minicole' (above), ‘Noelle' (was ‘Holly'). ‘Picador', ‘Providence', ‘Robin', ‘Rodeo', ‘Roulette', ‘Savoy Serve', ‘Sherwood' and ‘Stallion' plus these three red cabbages: ‘Buscaro', ‘Red Jewel' (left) and ‘Redcap'.

These two red cabbages were considered to have been superseded and it was recommended that their awards be removed: ‘Red Rookie' and ‘Ruby Ball'.

Comments

miranda said:

I'm salivating just thinking about all these lovely cabbages.

I could eat cabbage every day and we never seem to grow enough of them, so we should try some of these.

on 13 Jan 2010 at 04:09 PM

Graham Rice said:

If you try some, Miranda, post on a forum and tell us which you thought were the best.

on 13 Jan 2010 at 07:36 PM

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on 14 Jan 2010 at 07:26 AM

Amateur Gardener said:

Great tips Graham, I will be growing my cabbages this year through fabric. However, do you think most amateur gardeners will be feeding their cabbages with liquid Ammonium nitrate? If not, would the AGM results not have more relevance to home gardeners if they were fed and treated in the way most home gardeners will be treating them?

on 14 Jan 2010 at 09:59 AM

miranda said:

I'll do that, Graham. Looking forward to trying them.

on 14 Jan 2010 at 12:27 PM

Graham Rice said:

Amateur Gardener: You might say that, I couldn't possible comment! However, speaking personally, I'd say that liquid feeding with Ammonium nitrate was overdoing it. I'll see if I can find out why it was done.

on 14 Jan 2010 at 12:51 PM

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on 14 Jan 2010 at 01:47 PM

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on 14 Jan 2010 at 01:49 PM

Graham Rice said:

Amateur Gardener: Cabbage feeding update. Colin Randel, the Chair of the judging panel, tells me: Liquid feed was applied on August 26th following a soil analysis. The formula was 1 kg Sangral 3:1:1 per 10 litres of water and applied at a rate of 1:200. This feed was necessary as the cabbage plants were planted later than expected and being in small pots were rather drawn, and most likely, a bit starved.

on 21 Jan 2010 at 01:28 PM

bogweevil said:

Bogweevil always top dresses his cabbages with extra nitrogen - 70g per square metre of ammonium sulphate or, better, 150g per square metre of dried chicken manure pellets in July once the plants have taken after transplanting - it makes a significant difference to yield.

on 21 Jan 2010 at 05:05 PM

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on 11 Feb 2010 at 11:58 PM