Savoy cabbage ‘Ormskirk’ is an old heritage variety which gives a fine head of cabbage, solid in the centre and heavy in relationship to size, with deep blue-green outer crinkly leaves and a pale green centre.
Presumably raised around the ancient market town of Ormskirk in Lancashire, little seems to be known about it apart from the fact that it was introduced around 1899. As befits a Lancastrian cabbage, it is tolerant of severe winters and can be harvested later than most other varieties.
‘Ormskirk’ is a very hardy winter cabbage, sown indoors or outdoors April to June it matures from November and can be harvested through to March and beyond, at a time when many other vegetables are scarce. One of the most tolerant of frosts, it will hold well in the garden for weeks, and stands well before splitting.
Savoy cabbage is the most tender and sweet of the cabbage varieties with a deliciously distinctive flavour. The soft texture and mild flavour make the Savoy a preferred cabbage for use in many recipes. It can be used steamed, in stir-fry’s, fresh in salads or added to soups or stews, but if you want a quick meal …nothing too elaborate or refined, simply cooked up with a bit of bacon, what more could you want from a dish?
Prepare the site:
All brassica crops grow best in partial-shade, in firm, fertile, free-draining soil. Start digging over your soil as soon as you can brave the elements. Remove any stones you find and work in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Tread on the soil to remove air pockets and to make the surface firm. Brassicas will fail if the soil is too acidic; add lime to the soil if necessary, aiming for a pH of 6.5-7.5.
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 (½ in) deep and space 15-20cm (6-8in) 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 -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: November to March (and beyond)
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.
In the wild, the Brassica oleracea plant is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, and is somewhat similar in appearance to a leafy canola plant. Without detailed knowledge of plant breeding or genetics, simple selection by the people growing the plant over seven thousand years that had the features that they most desired, led to the development of six dramatically different vegetables. Although they appear very different, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts are all the same species, Brassica oleracea.
As time passed, some people began to express a preference for those plants with a tight cluster of tender young leaves in the centre of the plant at the top of the stem. Because of this preference for plants in which there were a large number of tender leaves closely packed into the terminal bud at the top of the stem, these plants were selected and propagated more frequently.
A continued favouritism of these plants for hundreds of successive generations resulted in the gradual formation of a more and more dense cluster of leaves at the top of the plant. Eventually, the cluster of leaves became so large, it tended to dominate the whole plant, and the cabbage "head" we know today was born. This progression is thought to have been complete in the 1st century A.D.
Cabbage is known botanically by the name Brassica oleracea var. capitata, which translates to 'cabbage of the vegetable garden with a head.' (Whereas Kale plants are named Brassica oleracea var. acephala, 'cabbage of the vegetable garden without a head.')
The common name of Cabbage is from the Latin caulus, in turn coming from the Greek kaulós, meaning‘stalk or stem’.
This type of savoy cabbage has the rather detailed botanic name of Brassica oleracea convar. capitata var. sabauda.
The genus name Brassica derives from the Celtic ‘bresic’.
The species name oleracea derives from the Celtic name of the cabbage, bresic. 'oleracea' in Latin adjective from 'olus' or 'oleris' meaning 'vegetables' or 'of the vegetables'.
The variant name sabauda is given to savoy types which are characterised by ruffled leaves with showy veins. The name Savoy refers to the area of its origin, the Savoy area of northern Italy. In Europe it is also known as 'Chou de Milan' as it originated specifically from the region of Milan.
Recipes to try:
We don't usually add recipes to the site ... but these two, classic easy to make supper dishes that feature savoy cabbage, are just too fabulous not to pass on.
‘Savoy Cabbage and Bacon Gratin’
Remove any tough, outer leaves. Blanche the cabbage (place in a pan of water, and bring to boiling point). Remove the cabbage and shred. Fry some chopped bacon in a pan, and add a sliced onion, some crushed garlic and a teaspoon of caraway seeds.
When the onion and the bacon have cooked, toss in the cabbage. Transfer everything to a gratin dish, pour over some double cream, and top with breadcrumbs and some grated cheese.
Bake in the oven, until the crust has turned a nice golden brown.
‘Roi de Ormskirk aux Lardons’
Simply cook with a bit of bacon!
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 280 Seeds Common Name Savoy Cabbage, Winter Savoy
Heritage (England 1899)
Family Brassicaceae Genus Brassica Species oleracea convar. capitata var. sabauda. Cultivar Ormskirk Synonym Brassica olearacea var. sabauda, Brassica sabellica Hardiness Hardy Annual Height 40cm (16in) Spread 25 to 30cm (10 to 18in) Spacing 45cm (18in) Position Full sun Soil Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Chalky/alkaline, Dry Time to Sow April to June Time to Harvest November to March