Given the latest health concerns over pesticides in food and their negative effects on health and the environment, many people are turning to organic vegetables. However, due to the intimidating cost of many of these vegetables in the grocery store, individuals concerned with consuming only organic vegetables may be starting their own gardens. While organic farming is already a very frugal past time, there are other things you can do to make your venture even more frugal and self-sustainable.
When you first start your organic garden, you will need to buy seeds and/or plants to grow. However, once you have grown these items for a season, you can begin using your garden for next year’s planting. Cabbage is one of the easiest vegetables to do this with. Although you may have bought seeds to plant the cabbage in your garden, that is not necessary for the next year. To plant organic cabbage again next year, simply dig up a cabbage root and split the stem lengthwise into four pieces. Make sure there is a bit of root on each piece, or the ones without root will not grow. Dip the pieces into an organic rooting compound, such as BioRoot, then store in slightly damp sand over the winter. These pieces resting in your basement will be ready to grown into new cabbages again in the spring!
This method will yield an identical clone of your cabbages. Why would we want to do this instead of collecting seeds? Cabbages are biennials, which means it is only possible to collect seeds every two years. Cloning cabbages means you won’t need to wait to collect seeds. Additionally, if you have collected an heirloom cabbage that you want to grow every year, this will prevent it from cross-pollinating with other gardens or wild vegetation, thus changing the make-up of your plant.
Although this method will improve the integrity of your heirloom cabbage, inbreeding of cloned vegetables can eventually lead to a reduction in the fitness of the plants due to “inbreeding depression.” In order to prevent this, it is necessary to refresh your plants periodically with seeds grown elsewhere.
Cabbages are not the only vegetables that you can clone. Cabbages are a form of brassica, a family which includes turnips, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. This cloning method can be used on any of the brassica listed above.
Learning how to clone a cabbage in your organic vegetable garden is a fun activity that will let you reap many benefits. In addition to the benefits of maintaining your heirloom vegetables, cabbages are particularly useful to grow in an organic garden because they are hardy, easy to grow, and can be grown in cooler weather, thus stretching your growing season with this spring and fall crop. Cabbages are also nutritionally rich, providing large amounts of fiber, and Vitamin C. Cloning cabbages in your organic vegetable garden will provide nutritious, more-sustainable food, while also providing you with the opportunity to experiment and delve deeper into the world of gardening.