Savoy cabbages tend to be eaten with gusto rather than being left to lurk accusingly in the cellar or fridge. A good one has a pleasingly nutty flavour and an attractive bubble-wrap texture that makes it a great deal more interesting to eat and to look at than a pale and rubbery white variety.
The deep wrinkled leaves of an overwintering savoy is sometimes the only splash of colour in the vegetable patch, allotment or kitchen garden during the icy days of winter.
Organic "Vorbote 3" cabbage is an early maturing savoy type with slightly pointed heads and with attractive, crinkled and blistered leaves and a robust flavour and texture. It will produce a typically attractive savoy cabbage with good field standing ability it has an arctic-like tolerance to the cold.
Sown in April to June, Vorbote also has good resistance to bolting and will produce a slightly pointed head ready for harvest in February and March of the following year. 95 to 110 Days to maturity.
Pleasingly wrinkly to the touch and nutty to the taste, Vorbote 3 is exceptionally good for use in cooked dishes and makes a mighty fine guest at any meal, particularly Sunday lunch.
Sowing: Sow successionally from April to June
Nearly all brassicas should be planted in a seedbed or in modules under glass and then transferred. Seeds should be sown thinly, as this reduces the amount of future thinning necessary and potential risk from pests. Sow seeds 1.25cm (½in) deep and space 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in) between rows. Once they have germinated, thin the seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) between each plant.
Cabbage seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are between 6 and 8cm high (2½ to 3in). Water the day before moving, and keep well-watered until established.
After germination, seedlings will often be ‘leggy’, plant them as deep as possible so that about half of the main stem is buried, to really anchor them into the soil. Plant firmly 45cm (18in) apart (For maximum size, be more generous with the spacing.)
Use a cardboard collar around the transplant, against cabbage root fly, and some protection against slugs where necessary.
The trick to growing cabbage is steady, uninterrupted growth. That means rich soil, plenty of water, and good fertilization. Cabbage needs fertile soil and adequate moisture from the time you set out transplants. Stunted plants don't recover.
Clear away any yellow leaves. Feed the plants as they near maturity with a foliar feed.
Harvest: 95 to 110 Days to maturity.
Cabbage that matures in cool weather is deliciously sweet. Test the head's solidity by squeezing it. Cut the head from the base of the plant. If you want to experiment, you can leave the harvested plant in the garden. Sometimes they develop loose little heads below the cut that are fun to serve as mini cabbages. Heads keep for several weeks in the fridge.
Brassicas are affected by a wide range of pests and diseases, especially the fungal disease, club root. Remove any infected plants from the ground and destroy. Make sure the soil is adequately limed and well drained. Rotate your crops, planting brassicas, of any kinds, in the same ground more often than once every four years runs the risk of club root infestation and once you have it, the ground is useless for up to a decade. Don't take needless chances, even with "catch crops" of radishes.
Mint: Effective against Cabbage White Butterflies, Aphids & Flea Beetles
Thyme: To ward off Cabbage Worm
Also useful: Sage, Oregano, Borage, Chamomile, Calendula and Nasturtium.
Easily recognised by its crisp, puckered, dark green, ridged leaves savoy cabbage has a milder flavour and a softer texture than other cabbage types, it has a pale tender heart and needs only brief cooking.
There is no need for a hand-wringing dilemma about preparation with a Savoy cabbage.
Chop it roughly and steam for a few minutes before tossing the cabbage in butter and pepper and you have one of the finest side vegetable dishes of all. The wrinkly structure of the leaves makes them particularly good at soaking up tasty gravy too.
If you want to do more with your Savoy, then its qualities make it much more versatile than other winter cabbages. The strong leaves are perfect for making stuffed cabbage. And if life is too short to stuff a cabbage, the flavour of a Savoy lends itself to braising. Cooked slowly in a little stock with peas and chunks of smoked bacon, braised Savoy cabbage is the ideal dish to lift the February gloom.
Try braising savoy with chestnuts, pancetta and juniper berries.
For a winter salad, fry finely sliced cabbage with pancetta and finely sliced garlic works brilliantly with game or try wilting some finely sliced cabbage and then adding to a Winter style salad with crispy pancetta, rocket, pomegranate seeds, goat’s cheese and radicchio.
For an oriental take, stir fry finely shredded leaves with garlic, ginger and a little sesame oil, it is delicious served with chicken or salmon.
An origin in Italy is assumed, although forerunners of the Savoy, with wrinkled leaves which tightly surrounded the stem, were probably already used by the Romans.
Both the Greeks and Romans wisely valued cabbage as a healthy food; however, they did go a little far in assuming it would cure drunkenness.
|Average Seed Count||50 Seeds|
|Common Name||Winter Savoy Cabbage|
|Species||olearacea Capitata Group|
|Synonym||Brassica olearacea Capitata Group|
|Soil||Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Chalky/alkaline, Dry|
|Time to Sow||April to June|
|Harvest||February to March|