Growing Stonehead Cabbage A Complete Guide

In the world of gardening, diversity and experimentation can lead to delightful discoveries, and the Stonehead Cabbage is a prime example of such a success. This variety has captivated gardeners’ attention and has remained a popular choice since its inception. Known for its robust characteristics and versatility, the Stonehead Cabbage stands out in the vegetable garden with its compact, round globes weighing between 4 and 6 pounds each. This cabbage is not just any ordinary cabbage; it’s a hybrid that combines several desirable traits into one plant, making it highly sought after by both amateur and professional gardeners.

First introduced to the market in 1969, Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage quickly distinguished itself by winning the prestigious All-America Selections (AAS) award the same year. This accolade is reserved for plants judged to have superior qualities, such as improved taste, disease resistance, and productivity. Stonehead’s early maturing feature allows gardeners to enjoy its harvest sooner than many other varieties. Furthermore, its ability to resist common cabbage afflictions such as cracking and splitting significantly extends its harvesting window, adding to its appeal.

The popularity of Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage continues because it thrives under a variety of climatic conditions, consistently producing dense and flavorful heads. Its cold weather tolerance makes it a perfect choice for early spring or late fall planting. Gardeners appreciate not only its practical qualities but also its culinary versatility. Whether shredded raw into slaws, chopped into salads, or cooked into savory dishes, Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage delivers exceptional taste and texture, ensuring its place as a garden favorite for decades.

Introduction Year1969
AwardsAll-America Selections (AAS) Award in 1969
CharacteristicsCompact, round globes; weighs between 4 and 6 pounds; robust; hybrid
BenefitsEarly maturing, resistance to cracking and splitting, tolerates various climates
Culinary UsesShredded in slaws, chopped in salads, cooked in savory dishes

Understanding Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage

What is Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage?

Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage is a notable member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes some of the most valuable and nutritionally rich vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. This family is characterized by plants that share a common structure but diverge greatly in terms of the edible parts they produce—leaves, flowers, stems, or roots. Stonehead cabbage itself forms compact, round globes that are smaller and denser than many other cabbage varieties, typically weighing between 4 and 6 pounds.

Like its relatives, Stonehead cabbage thrives in cooler temperatures, which makes it particularly suitable for early spring and late fall cultivation. The plant’s leaves wrap tightly around each other, forming a dense head that is both crisp and tender. Compared to kale’s leafy, loose structure and broccoli’s flowering head, Stonehead cabbage offers a substantial heart that stands out in both raw and cooked forms.

Key Features and Benefits

One of the most appealing aspects of Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage is its early maturity—ready for harvest in just 67 days—which is faster than many other cabbage varieties. This early maturity is not only convenient but also reduces the risk of exposure to long-term pest and disease threats. The cabbage’s taste is notably sweet and crisp, making it a favorite for both fresh salads and various cooked dishes.

Storage qualities are another significant benefit. Stonehead can be stored for several weeks without losing its crispness or flavor, which is ideal for extending its use throughout the winter months. Furthermore, this variety is particularly resistant to several common cabbage problems. It shows robust resistance to cracking and splitting, which often afflict other varieties as they mature and swell. Resistance to yellowing leaves and diseases such as black rot, as well as pests like cabbage loopers and aphids, makes Stonehead a resilient choice for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance cabbage.

FamilyBrassicaceae (includes kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts)
DescriptionCompact, round globes; smaller and denser than many varieties; weighs between 4 and 6 pounds
Optimal Growing ConditionsThrives in cooler temperatures; suitable for early spring and late fall cultivation
Early MaturityReady for harvest in 67 days; reduces risk of long-term pest and disease exposure
Taste ProfileSweet and crisp; versatile for fresh salads and cooked dishes
Storage QualitiesCan be stored for several weeks without losing crispness or flavor; ideal for winter use
Disease and Pest ResistanceResistant to cracking, splitting, yellowing leaves, black rot, cabbage loopers, and aphids

Planting and Growing Stonehead Cabbage

Starting Indoors

Gardeners looking to get a head start on the cabbage season can begin sowing Stonehead seeds indoors approximately 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost. The seeds should be planted at a depth of about ½ inch in well-draining, fertile soil. Keeping the soil consistently moist and providing plenty of light will help ensure healthy seedling development. Seedlings are ready to be moved outside once they have developed at least two sets of true leaves, a process known as hardening off, which acclimates them to outdoor conditions.

Planting Outdoors

When transplanting outdoors, selecting the right site is crucial. Stonehead cabbage thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil. A soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8 is ideal. Space the plants about 24 inches apart to allow for ample growth room and air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases.

Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Regular care is essential for maintaining a healthy crop. Stonehead cabbage requires at least 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation, to support its rapid growth. A layer of organic mulch around the plants will help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Additionally, a balanced fertilizer can promote vigorous growth and optimal development.

Keeping an eye on pest and disease signs is crucial; early intervention can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems. Implementing integrated pest management strategies, such as using insecticidal soaps or encouraging beneficial insects, can help maintain a healthy cabbage crop without resorting to harsh chemicals.

By following these guidelines, gardeners can enjoy a successful and rewarding experience growing Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage, whether as a new venture or as a continuing tradition in their vegetable gardens.

Starting IndoorsSow seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost, ½ inch deep in fertile, well-draining soil. Keep soil moist and provide plenty of light. Harden off seedlings before transplanting outdoors.
Planting OutdoorsChoose a sunny, well-drained site with nitrogen-rich soil. Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 6.8. Space plants about 24 inches apart.
Ongoing Care and MaintenanceProvide 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Use organic mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Apply balanced fertilizer for optimal growth. Monitor for pests and diseases, using integrated pest management strategies.

Harvesting and Storing Stonehead Cabbage

When to Harvest

Determining the right time to harvest Stonehead cabbage is crucial for achieving the best taste and texture. Typically, Stonehead is ready for harvest approximately 67 days after planting, but the actual timing can vary based on growing conditions. The cabbages are ready when the heads feel solid and firm to the touch. To check, gently squeeze the head; it should resist compression and not feel loose or leafy on the inside.

Harvesting Stonehead cabbage involves a straightforward method. Using a sharp knife, cut the stalk at the base of the head. It is important to harvest in the morning when the plant’s water content is highest, which helps to ensure the crispness of the leaves. Unlike other cabbage varieties, Stonehead can remain in the field for a longer period even after maturing, as it is less prone to splitting. This characteristic allows for a more flexible harvest time, which can be particularly beneficial in managing large gardens or staggered planting schedules.

Storage Tips

Proper storage of Stonehead cabbage can significantly extend its shelf life and maintain its quality. After harvesting, it’s advisable to cool the heads as quickly as possible to retain freshness. Cabbages can be stored in a cool, humid place, such as a refrigerator or a root cellar, where temperatures are between 32°F and 40°F (-0°C to 4°C). The ideal humidity level for storage is between 95% to 100% to prevent the heads from drying out.

Stonehead cabbage has excellent frost tolerance, capable of withstanding light frosts that may occur in late fall or early winter. In fact, experiencing a light frost can enhance the sweetness of the leaves, making late-season harvests particularly rewarding. However, temperatures below 28°F (-2°C) can damage the plant tissues, reducing the storage life and quality of the cabbage. If a hard freeze is expected, it’s best to harvest any remaining cabbages and store them in a controlled environment.

When to HarvestTypically ready around 67 days after planting. Harvest when heads are solid and firm, using a sharp knife in the morning to maximize crispness. Can remain in the field longer due to resistance to splitting.
Storage TipsCool heads quickly after harvesting. Store in a cool, humid place at 32°F to 40°F with 95% to 100% humidity. Frost tolerant; light frost enhances sweetness, but protect from hard freezes to maintain quality.

Additional Tips for Success

Managing Different Growing Conditions

Stonehead cabbage is adaptable but performs best with some consideration to local growing conditions. In warmer climates, providing partial shade can help prevent the heads from overheating and bolting. In cooler climates, choosing a sunny planting site will maximize heat accumulation and promote better growth. Ensuring adequate soil moisture and fertility can mitigate the stress caused by fluctuating environmental conditions, thereby supporting consistent head development.

Companion Planting and Rotation

Implementing companion planting and crop rotation strategies can enhance the overall health and productivity of your garden. Stonehead cabbage benefits from being planted near herbs such as dill or mint, which can help repel common pests like cabbage moths. Onions, garlic, and chives are also excellent companions due to their ability to deter aphids and certain fungal diseases.

Avoid planting Stonehead cabbage near strawberries or tomatoes, as they can compete for nutrients and are susceptible to similar diseases, which could complicate pest and disease management. As for crop rotation, avoid planting cabbage in the same location where other Brassicaceae family members (like broccoli, kale, or cauliflower) were grown in the previous year. This practice helps prevent soil-borne diseases and manages nutrient depletion, ensuring a healthy garden environment for years to come.

By following these guidelines for harvesting, storing, and cultivating Stonehead cabbage, gardeners can enjoy bountiful yields and high-quality produce that highlight the versatility and resilience of this exceptional cabbage variety.

Growing ConditionsIn warmer climates, provide partial shade to prevent bolting. In cooler climates, ensure a sunny planting site for heat accumulation. Maintain soil moisture and fertility to support head development.
Companion PlantingBeneficial companions include dill and mint to repel cabbage moths, and onions, garlic, and chives to deter aphids and fungi. Avoid planting near strawberries or tomatoes to prevent nutrient competition and disease spread.
Crop RotationAvoid planting in the same location as other Brassicaceae family members from the previous year to prevent soil-borne diseases and manage nutrient depletion.

Growing Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage presents an excellent opportunity for both novice and experienced gardeners to cultivate a vegetable that is not only rewarding in its yield but also versatile in its uses. Throughout this guide, we have explored the various stages and aspects of growing, caring for, and harvesting Stonehead cabbage, highlighting its many benefits and the practical methods for successful cultivation.

Stonehead cabbage, a member of the Brassicaceae family, is distinguished by its resilience and ease of growth compared to other cabbage varieties. Its robust nature begins with its early maturation, typically ready for harvest just 67 days after planting, making it an ideal choice for gardeners eager to see quick results. The cabbage’s ability to resist common problems such as cracking, splitting, yellowing, and diseases like black rot, as well as pests, contributes significantly to its popularity and success in a variety of climates and conditions.

In terms of planting and care, Stonehead cabbage requires attention to detail from the initial stages of starting seeds indoors to transplanting them into well-prepared garden beds. Ensuring the plants have sufficient sunlight, moisture, and nutrient-rich soil is crucial for their development into hardy and productive cabbages. Regular maintenance in the form of watering, mulching, and fertilizing helps sustain their growth and fend off any potential threats from pests and diseases.

Harvesting Stonehead cabbage at the right time, when the heads are firm and the leaves are crisp, ensures the best quality and flavor. The cabbage’s storability, enhanced by its frost tolerance, allows gardeners to enjoy its harvest long into the winter months, providing a fresh source of nutrients during colder seasons. Proper storage techniques such as maintaining cool temperatures and high humidity in storage areas like refrigerators or root cellars further extend the life and freshness of the cabbage.

Beyond the practical guidance on cultivation and care, this guide has also touched on the strategic advantages of companion planting and crop rotation. These agricultural practices not only support the health and productivity of Stonehead cabbage but also enhance the overall biodiversity and balance within the garden ecosystem.

Encouraging gardeners to incorporate Stonehead cabbage into their gardens is more than just about growing another vegetable. It is about enriching one’s gardening experience, experimenting with a robust and award-winning variety, and enjoying the multiple culinary delights that this cabbage can offer. Whether it is used raw in salads and slaws or cooked in hearty dishes, Stonehead cabbage is sure to provide a delightful taste and texture.

For those who have not yet tried growing Stonehead cabbage, consider this an invitation to expand your gardening repertoire. The resilience, ease of care, and delicious outcomes make Stonehead an excellent choice for any vegetable garden. The journey from planting the seeds to enjoying your home-grown cabbage is not only fulfilling but also a testament to the joys and rewards of gardening.

By adopting the practices outlined in this guide, you can look forward to a successful cabbage crop that will not only be a staple in your kitchen but also a point of pride in your garden. Let the cultivation of Stonehead cabbage be a stepping stone to more gardening adventures and an opportunity to connect more deeply with the natural world. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, Stonehead Hybrid Cabbage is a choice that promises satisfaction and a bountiful harvest.