02 March 2009
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
We have talked about growing carrots and beets. This week, we move from root vegetables to a leafy vegetable. Cabbage is related to mustard, turnips, kale and collards. The leaves that form a head of cabbage can be purple, red or green. "White" cabbage is really a light green.
Cabbage is a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients. Cato the Elder, an influential Roman thinker two thousand years ago, praised its medical value. If you eat it raw, he suggested dipping it in vinegar.
Think about growing cabbage if you live where the weather is cool and the soil is moist and fertile. Spring and fall are good times to begin. Experts say cabbage does not need full sun and grows easily if you water it regularly and protect against insects and disease.
The University of Illinois Extension says cabbage is easily transplanted from bare-root plants or cell packs. Bare-root plants have no soil on their roots. Cell packs are containers in which seeds are started.
Susan Trice from the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service says cabbage takes about sixty to ninety days to grow. She says the amount of space needed between the plants depends on how big you expect the heads to be. Cabbage can be picked any time after the heads have formed.
Always keep the plants moist. Watch for yellowing or black spots on the stems. Yellow or brown areas shaped like the letter V on leaves may be a sign of black rot infection.
Insects, transplants and seeds can spread infections. If you suspect that seeds may be diseased, place them in water at fifty degrees Celsius for twenty minutes. The Cooperative Extension Service at Oklahoma State University says buying high-quality seeds can help.
On March seventeenth, many Irish Americans will eat a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.
Cabbage leaves can be steamed or cooked in a small amount of boiling water until they soften. Cabbage smells terrible if you cook it too long. Uncooked cabbage, cut thinly, is used in cole slaw and other salads.
Sauerkraut is cabbage fermented in its own juice. It means "sour cabbage" in German. Salt is traditionally used to pull water out of the cabbage.
And Chinese cabbage is popular not just in China. It is commonly used, for example, in kimchee, a spicy Korean food made with fermented cabbage.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Bob Doughty.