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Sowing Red Cabbage Seeds for Transplanting

Sowing under cover is the best way to give plants a head start. They can then be planted out after the risk of frost has passed. If you don’t have a heated greenhouse, simply place your seed trays on a warm windowsill.
Excerpted from Simple Steps: Vegetable Gardening

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Marner Red Cabbage is First to Reach Maturity

Step 1: Prepare Soil

Fill a seed tray with seed-starting mix, and gently firm with a board or second tray to eliminate air pockets. Using a watering can with a fine spray, water the soil lightly and allow to drain before sowing.

Prepare Seed Tray Before Sowing Cabbage Seeds

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 2: Distribute Seeds

Distribute the seeds evenly over the surface of the moist soil by scattering them from their packet or from your hand. Sow the seeds thinly to prevent overcrowding once they have germinated.

Distribute Seeds Evenly Over Surface of Seed Tray

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 3: Fertilize Seeds

Use a garden sieve to cover the seeds with a thin layer of fine-grade, lump-free seed-starting mix, then very gently firm it over the seeds with the palm of your hand.

Use Garden Sieve to Cover Seeds with Fine Soil

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 4: Water Soil

Lightly water the soil using a watering can with a fine spray, or stand the tray in water until the surface darkens, then allow to drain. Label the tray to help you keep track of what you have sown.

Lightly Water Tray of Newly Planted Cabbage Seeds

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 5: Propagate Seeds

Provide warm, humid conditions by placing the tray in a propagator or covering it with glass or plastic. As soon as seedlings emerge, remove the cover, but protect them from strong sunlight. Turn trays on windowsills regularly.

Cover Tray to Create Humid Conditions for Seeds

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 6: Harvest Seedlings

When the first seed leaves are fully developed, prick the seedlings out. Fill a module tray with moist potting mix. Water the seedlings and, holding each by a leaf, loosen the soil with a pencil or dibber and tease its roots free.

Use Dibber to Loosen and Free Seedling by Roots

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 7: Transplant Seedlings

Dibble a hole in every module and carefully lower a seedling into each, using the dibber to firm the soil around the roots. Water them in and label the tray. Grow the seedlings on until they have filled their new containers.

Dibble Hole for Each Seedling to Fill Module Tray

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 8: Acclimate Seedlings

When the weather is warmer, place the young plants outside in a closed cold frame. To give them a chance to harden off (acclimatize), gradually increase the ventilation over two weeks, until they are uncovered.

Place Young Plants in Cold Frame to Acclimate

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 9: Plant Seedling in Garden

Plant out hardened-off plants in their final position in already prepared soil. Red cabbages should be 12in (30 cm) apart with 18 in (45 cm) between rows. If pigeons are a problem, protect plants with netting.

Mature Cabbage Plants Set in Prepared Soil

Courtesy of DK - Vegetable Gardening © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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Excerpted from Simple Steps: Vegetable Gardening

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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