Tying up the cabbage leaves: should cabbage heads be tied up

Cabbage is a hardy crop with a cool climate and is best grown in spring and autumn. Cabbage is a member of the cabbage family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. When growing these plants, cabbage leaves often need to be tied up.

Cabbage Head Attachment

Easy to grow, as long as cool temperatures abound, cabbages are nevertheless a refuge for a whole range of pests such as

  • Cabbage
  • Slugs
  • Imported cabbage worms
  • Cabbage rootworm
  • Aphids
  • Flea beetles

To avoid the ravages that accompany their presence, it is important to keep the garden clean of debris that encourages pest infestation. Some people wear socks to tie cabbage heads to prevent cabbage moths from laying their eggs, which in turn become annoying cabbage worms. Although it probably works – I haven’t tried it myself – should cabbage heads be tied up? Is there any other reason, apart from the determination of the parasite, for tying cabbage leaves?

Should we tie the cabbages?

No, there’s no need to tie the cabbage heads. The cabbage will undoubtedly turn into a head without any intervention on your part. That said, some varieties can benefit from tying the cabbage leaves.
Chinese cabbage, or Napa cabbage, is often tied to produce a tighter head with whiter, softer leaves. This is sometimes called «blanching».

Tying cabbage heads

Use soft wire or other flexible material to attach the cabbage heads to prevent damage to the outer leaves. Tie the cabbage head when the cabbage is almost ripe and has a firm appearance with broad, loose outer foliage.
Hold the inner leaves in one hand while the outer leaves are placed around the head. Then wrap the cabbage around the middle with the soft string, creating a dense head. Tie the tie with a loose knot that can be easily opened when the cabbage head is picked up.
Again, it is not strictly necessary to tie the cabbage heads, but it can create tighter, spotless heads and in doing so discourage slugs and snails… or at least prevent them from eating the softer inner leaves.

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