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Cabbage can be an early, mid-season, or late crop depending on the variety. When planting cabbage, gardeners should have a timeline, knowing when they might want to harvest these vegetables, and then plant a variety that will mature at the right time. The plants should be checked often when they are close to maturity in order to gather the crop before the cabbage head splits. Any size heads can be picked when harvesting cabbage, provided that they are mostly firm when pressed on with a thumb.
Gardeners should take care not to wait too long when harvesting cabbage. It is important to keep a close eye on the plants in order to know when cabbage head formation has taken place. After this, people can continue to let the heads grow as long as they do not become too big and split. A heavy rain can sometimes cause this to happen, so if a storm is forecasted, growers may need to go ahead and harvest this vegetable to prevent the head from splitting. This might mean cutting very small heads in order to keep them from being damaged.
It is typically best to use a sharp knife when harvesting cabbage. A knife that has a blade around 6 to 8 inches (15.24 to 20.32 cm) long is ideal for harvesting these vegetables. It can be a good idea to have a knife designated especially for cutting cabbage heads so that it does not become dull if used for other purposes. The knife should be washed carefully with soap and hot water before harvesting vegetables in order to prevent bacteria from getting into the cabbage garden.
Once the cabbage heads have been cut, the next step in harvesting cabbage is to clean them. This can be done by rinsing the leaves thoroughly with cool running water. People can do this in the kitchen sink, and a spray nozzle can be very helpful in getting to the inside leaves. It can be a good idea to drain the cabbage heads on clean towels before placing them in the refrigerator unless people plan to use them right away.
After harvesting cabbage, this crop must be preserved or used within a few days in order to keep it from rotting. People who have an abundance of this vegetable may want to make cole slaw and place it in the freezer, or consider cooking cabbage to make sauerkraut. This should be done while the leaves are still firm and light green in color, as they will generally not be useable once the edges begin to turn brown.
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