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Plant Spotlight: Chinese Kaboko Cabbage

Cabbages and the Brassica Family

Chinese Kaboko Cabbage is a member of the brassica family of plants which include, broccoli, cauliflower, traditional (western) cabbage and other Chinese vegetables such as bok choi/pak choi. The Kaboko variety also is closely related to turnips.

All of the vegetables in the brassica family are considered cool season crops, growing best in the spring and fall. Summer heat tends to cause these plants to bolt and go to seed right away.

Young Kaboko Cabbage plants in my garden

Young Kaboko Cabbage plants in my garden

How to Grow Kaboko Cabbage in the Spring

I find this cabbage is easier than the traditional western variety. They grow perfect in a raised bed and don't take up a lot of space like other vegetables in the brassica family.

You can sow your seeds indoors 8 weeks before the last frost if you would like to. I prefer to direct-sow my seeds about 4 weeks before the last frost date. Whichever is easiest for you is the preferred method. They do transplant well.

Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 6 to 12 inches apart in a full sun location. Seeds will germinate in about 10 to 14 days. Keep them watered if you haven't had any rain.

They grow fairly quickly, taking about 59 days to maturity. You can harvest them young if you want to or wait until the 59 days are up and beyond.

Cabbage can tolerate some light frost and cool nights. Be on the lookout for cabbage worms that can quickly decimate your crop if not kept in check. Cabbage worms eat holes in the foliage. If you start seeing damage, you can choose to pick them off by hand and use row covers or some type of screening to prevent them from accessing your plants.

Cabbage worms will also bother other vegetables in the brassica family, so be mindful of that if you are growing those as well. I like to inspect my plants a few times each week just to head off any infestation early.

Planting Kaboko Cabbage for a Fall Crop

You can get a second harvest of cabbage by direct sowing seeds in your garden in mid-summer. A little more care may need to be taken to ensure these grow properly, especially if you are accustomed to hot and dry summers in your area.

Direct sow seeds as you would in the spring. When seedlings emerge, mulch the area and water well. Keep checking the soil moisture every few days to make sure seedlings don't dry out from the heat.

Again, it will take about 59 days to maturity, but you can leave them in longer if you prefer.

Kaboko harvest after approx. 58 days.

Kaboko harvest after approx. 58 days.

Cooking Tips

Kaboko cabbage is great in stir fry. When adding to a stir fry recipe, you should put in in the pan at the last minute, cooking it lightly. It will retain some crunch as well as retain all it's vitamins and minerals.

It is also excellent in coleslaw recipes, adding a hint of sweetness, as this specific type of cabbage has a slight sweetness compared to other cabbages.

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Steaming in a bamboo steamer is another good application for retaining all the essential nutrients of this vegetable.

Nutritional Information

Kaboko Cabbage contains high amounts of vitamin A (per 4 oz. of serving), which is equal to about 3500 IU. It also contains approximately 50 mg of vitamin C per 4 oz. serving.

Cabbages in general are known for their cancer busting benefits because of the high concentrations of beta-carotene, potassium, phytochemicals and gluconsinolates.

In general, all dark, leafy vegetables are high in vitamin C, iron and folate.

I've separated all the leaves and rinsed them thoroughly.

I've separated all the leaves and rinsed them thoroughly.

Organic Kaboko Cabbage Seeds

Additional Growing Tips

  • When weeding around your growing cabbage plants, take special care. They do not like their roots disturbed. Clip the weed, rather than pulling it out if it is located close to the cabbage base.
  • Carrots, Lettuce, Onions and Spinach are considered good plants to grow near cabbage for companion planting.
  • To prevent cutworms, place a shallow can (like those from tuna fish or cat food) with both the top and bottom removed, around the young cabbage plants and pushed half-way into the soil.
  • Kaboko Cabbage is a variety that is considered more disease resistant than other types.

Kaboko Cabbage in My Garden

This was the first year growing this type of cabbage in my garden. With just a few rows growing, I had more than enough cabbage for our household and to give away to friends and neighbors. And that was just from the Spring crop!

If you are looking for something new and different to try, I encourage you to give the Chinese Kaboko Cabbage a try.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Lisa Roppolo


Lisa Roppolo (author) from New Lenox, IL on June 23, 2014:

Thanks! It is a lot like Bok Choy. Good for stir frying.

LJ Mikels from Las Vegas, Nv on June 22, 2014:

I enjoyed your article. I want to start a garden in pots and it seems like Kaboko cabbage would work for that. I don't think I've ever eaten it, so I'm going to buy some and try it out. Thanks for the helpful tips :-).

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