Saturday Spotlight – “Red Express” Cabbage

Now normally I would spotlight a variety that I really rate but on this occasion I wanted to spotlight one that really hasn’t done well for me at all.

I am a little ashamed to admit that I have yet to really master growing red cabbages.  I have had success with them in past but I reckon that must have been more good luck than good management.  The past two years I have attempted to grow “Red Express”.  I sowed the seeds over our summer – smack bang in the middle of the Sept til March sowing window suggested on the seed packet.   I did what I always do with brassicas, I pricked out the seedlings and potted them up to give them a nice start before planting out in the beds when space became available in Autumn.  I even gave them protection from the marauding blackbirds.  This is the result:

Red Express cabbage

and that was the only one which looked promising enough a month ago to be left in the ground.

Basically they are bolting early.  The same thing happened last year (albeit slightly later in the season), all bolted early except for one.  That one plant, which was hidden under a broccoli for most of winter, grew on in spring and reached a decent size.

Red cabbage

Ironic that the one that was in the ground the longest was by far the best, given the ‘express’ part of its name.

In 2011 I grew a different variety (unidentified as I bought generic ‘red cabbage’ seedlings) and they did fine planted out in Autumn.  I’m not sure what conditions ‘Red Express’ is looking for but it doesn’t seem to find them in my garden over Melbourne’s winter.

What variety of red cabbage does well for you?

Saturday Spotlight is a series of posts highlighting particular varieties of edible plants.  If you have a favourite, or even a less than successful variety of a plant and would like to include it in the series then please leave a comment with a link below.    I have created a page (above, just below the header) with an Index of all the Spotlights to date.   I will add links to any new posts below and in next weeks post as well as ensuring they appear in the Index.  

New Spotlights last week were:

Tasty Jade Cucumber – Our Happy Acres

and this week:

Purple Cauliflower – Garden Glut

Sabah Honey Pineapple – Kebun Malay-Kadazan Girls

Fiesta Broccoli – Daphne’s Dandelions

Profuma Di Genova Basil – From Seed to Table

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14 Responses to Saturday Spotlight – “Red Express” Cabbage

  1. I love braised red cabbage – we grow Huzaro. The seeds are sown at the beginning of May and planted out on the plot the second week in June. Last year the first red cabbge was harvested at the very end of October. Maybe even Express needs to be planted earlier. Heat causes them to bolt. I’ve read a variety called Ruby Perfection is more heat tolerant.

    • Liz says:

      Hmmm I’m thinking maybe I need to sow them so their main growing season is late winter coming into Spring. I think that with the way I’m doing it they might get too hot early in their life cycle.

  2. Michelle says:

    I’m sure that your problems with that cabbage have nothing to do with your gardening skills (excellent), it probably isn’t suited to your climate. Back in 2010 I grew Mammoth Red Rock and got a 6 pounder for my efforts, and I’m no cabbage expert. I harvested that in June and sowed the seeds in January.

    I’m going to try to do a spotlight post later today, if I’m not too wilted from the unusual heat that is blasting us at the moment.

  3. Daphne says:

    I’ve only tried to grow red cabbage once. And it failed miserably. Maybe some year I’ll try again.

  4. Sarah says:

    I did try growing red cabbage once but wasn’t impressed with the result and being as the rest of the family don’t really like red (or any) cabbage, I haven’t tried again. My neighbour, on the other hand, grows big healthy-looking red cabbages – so I can’t blame the soil or climate for my failure!

    • Liz says:

      Perhaps it is a variety thing. I will try another variety next year. Shame your family doesn’t enjoy them….mine are touch and go with them I have to say.

  5. Mark Willis says:

    As others have already said, growing Red Cabbage is not easy. To be honest, I have never grown one that I was really happy with. They always turn out to be disappointingly small. They take ages to grow too. I think that in my small garden there are plenty of veggies with better VSR to grow! They are also cheap to buy in the shops. Red Cabbage is one of the few veg that is NOT better when it’s home-grown.

    • Liz says:

      Because they grow over winter here the VSR is better, especially as I can use the outer leaves for stock while they are maturing but having said that they are ridiculously slow…….

  6. Louise says:

    I am trying to grow red cabbages for the first time this year. I chose Red Drumhead. Previously I have only grown Savoy. This year I tried a number of varieties – the Red Drumhead being the only red variety. They started brilliantly ( I think) then they got attacked by aphids which I sprayed with garlic spray which seemed to stop the aphids and the growth of the cabbages! That’s a bit of an exaggeration cause they have continued to grow but disappointingly slowly and they are taking an age to head. I might stick to green cabbages next year as a result. I have always succeeded with Savoy and this year I am really enjoying Mini Wombok.

    • Liz says:

      I have planted a couple of Savoy too so I will see if they are more successful. I think I will change variety as I do enjoy growing red cabbage – when they work – as they look really pretty as well as tasting good.

  7. Pingback: Harvest Monday – 20th Jan 2014 | Suburban Tomato

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