Seed saving and breeding

Blushing cabbages

young cabbage plant

A very young cabbage plant in June

I think cabbages are beautiful. However, I was once showing someone around the garden, when I gushed, “Oh – over here! You’ve just got to see these GORGEOUS cabbages!” and I suddenly realized that there are some people in the world who don’t equate beauty with cabbages.

young cabbage plant

Anyway, I received some very special cabbage seed to trial this season from Ottawa Gardener of The Veggie Patch Reimagined. She crossed Mammoth Red Rock with San Michele (San Michele is one of my favorites – a large red-tinged savoy) and the result is a superb cabbage, seemingly a smack-in-the-middle blend of its two parents. It has more red/purple color than San Michele and the texture is more delicate than Mammoth Red Rock: the leaves are lightly savoyed (puckered). I really love the texture – very brittle, tender and crunchy – quite delicious raw.

bursting cabbage

After 7 inches of rain in one day

A couple of weeks ago Hurricane Irene dumped about 7 inches of rain on us in 24 hours. The earliest-set-out cabbage’s response was to burst open (I was not surprised), so I harvested it for a big batch of kimchee, and stuffing and salad. The head weighed over 6#, and was 9.5 inches across.

The harvested head

The harvested head

Cut up with some apples for kimchee

There is not much color or other variation among the 7 plants I am trialing so far – I find it interesting that they’re all quite uniform (and I must say consistently beautiful) in this first generation. Thanks Ottawa Gardener – really nice work!

6 Responses to “Blushing cabbages”

  1. gayle says:

    I think cabbages are beautiful, too. Though I don’t particularly like to eat them…
    Has this cabbage been bred down to a true variety, or is it a hybrid cross?

  2. admin says:

    Hi Gayle!
    These are the F1 hybrids, the first generation of the cross. If I am able to overwinter some F1s, and get them to set seed, pollinated only by themselves, the seed would be F2s, 2nd generation of the cross. The F2s may or may not have the uniformity of the F1s, they may “segregate” with some more closely resembling San Michele or Mammoth Red Rock than their F1 parents. If the F2s are fairly uniform and like the F1s, it’s probably a stable variety – and would be considered open pollinated. If not, more selection would be needed to get a stable open pollinated variety. Or, one could do the cross every time one wanted to get seed…

  3. Ottawa Gardener says:

    Wow your cabbage looks wonderful too. Hopefully I will get a bunch of my crosses to overwinter – fingers crossed as I really like it too. Glad to hear that it did well for you.

  4. lieven says:

    Some of my Corrado Grex heads look like your offspring. Beautiful!

  5. Tom Kleffman says:

    I am curious how the cabbage fared as a fermented dish, and if you used the traditional salty brine pickling solution, or some other mixture? Have you ever tried the traditional salt, caraway & dill sauerkraut with it and if so how did that taste?

    Thanks for your time. Beautiful veg.


  6. admin says:

    It was superb kimchee – brined and seasoned with horseradish, garlic, ginger and chernuska (nigella sativa seeds/black cumin). The texture was beautiful for fermenting. I didn’t try it as regular saurkraut. I haven’t been able to winter over enough plants to get seed from this hybrid. I’ve been trying to duplicate Ottawa Gardener’s cross (San Michele x Mammoth Red Rock), but again, overwintering plants is an issue for me. However, I’m still trying, and am hoping to get some seed next season.
    By the way, there is a very similar OP variety called Verona (European variety), nice red tinged savoy which seems to have some overwintering potential.

Leave a Reply