Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Featured veggie: the cabbage

The Chinese word for cabbage means “soup spoon,” because of its round leaves. It’s in the cruciferae family, and when you look closely at the flower it has a cross in the middle of it, thus “crucif.”

This edible garden plant has wide leaves that grow in a fan shape or at the top of a stalk. Unlike its relative, Swiss chard, its leaves are smoother and the veins more rigid.

Everyone has heard the story that babies are born in the cabbage patch! Do you remember the insanity called Cabbage Patch Kids? I almost got myself killed in front of a mob in a supermarket running to buy one.

In fact, in the past cabbage was associated with babies and was even thought to cause their birth because a big bowl of steaming cabbage soup was brought to newlyweds the morning after their wedding night.

According to mythology, cabbages came into being from the tears of Lycurgus. One day, distressed at seeing mortals imbibe until they were drunk, Lycurgus had all the grapevines pulled up, to be replaced by the cabbages that sprang up from his tears.

Over time the vines grew back, but the Greeks and Romans believed that cabbage had the power to fend off alcoholic vapors.

They would even eat a few leaves to prepare for large banquets at which etiquette dictated that the host refill guests’ cups liberally… to the point of oblivion.

Some varieties of cabbage:

• Green (Cheers, 75 days to harvest; Early Jersey Wakefield, 75 days, pointed heads; King Cole, 74 days, large, firm)

• Savoy (King, 85 days, dark green color; Queen, 88 days, five pounds, deep green color)

• Red (Ruby Ball, 71 days, four pounds)

Cabbages are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and vitamins A, B, C and K.

They may also offer protection from cancer. Chemicals present in cabbage that are suggested to give natural protection against certain kinds of cancer are: indoles, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, phenols, dithiolethiones.

Some studies have shown that these chemicals stop cancer-producing agents from reaching the cells or stop cells from becoming malignant.

Use organic starter fertilizer when transplanting young plants and side-dress with it when the plants are half-grown. Cultivate shallowly to keep down weeds, being careful not to get too close to the plant and cut roots.

Ample soil moisture is necessary throughout the growing season to produce good cabbage. Irrigation is especially important to help the young plants withstand the intense sunlight and supply the developing heads with sufficient water to develop quickly.

Cabbage can be harvested anytime after the heads become firm (firm to hand pressure) but before they crack or split.

Many countries and cultures enjoy some form of cabbage prepared in a great number of ways: sauerkraut and coleslaw from Europe, colcannon from Ireland, stuffed cabbage from Hungary, kimchi from Korea. Cabbage is a staple among cultures the world over.

 

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