This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol4", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
The many varieties of Cabbage have been evolved from the wild Brassica oleracea, a Cruciferous weed found growing wild on the sea cliffs of the south-west of England and Wales, the Channel Islands, etc. As a farm and market-garden crop it is generally cultivated throughout the British Islands. The Returns of the Board of Agriculture for the year 1911 show that 58,092 ac. of Cabbages are grown in England, 6302 ac. in Scotland, and 785 ac. in Wales, making a total for Great Britain of 65,179 ac. Something like 40,000 ac. are devoted to the Cabbage crop in Ireland, making a round total of 105,000 ac. for the United Kingdom. In England the largest Cabbage-growing counties are: Essex, 4964 ac; Kent, 4722 ac; Devon, 3425 ac; Lancaster, 2834 ac; Hampshire, 2738 ac; Sussex, 2630 acr Cornwall, 2437 ac; Derby, 2004 ac; Middlesex, 1998 ac; Bedfordshire, 1971 ac; Norfolk, 1968 ac; and Suffolk, 1927 ac Worcestershire and Staffordshire both have over 1800 ac each, and about a dozen others are credited with an area of 1000 ac. or over. Middlesex is the largest Cabbage-growing county in proportion to its size, about 1 ac in every 90 being under the crop.
In Ireland, Munster is the largest Cabbage-growing province, with over 16,000 ac, Leinster and Connaught are close together with over 8000 ac. each, and Ulster has over 6000 ac. Amongst the counties, Kerry leads the way with over 4000 ac; then come Cork, nearly 4000 ac.; Tipperary, about 3500 ac; Galway, 2500 ac. nearly; and Mayo, Limerick, and Donegal, each with over 2000 ac. in the order given. According to the Irish figures, the average yield of Cabbage works out at just over 10 tons to the acre.
From the analysis of the ash given in Vol. I, p. 109, it will be seen that the Cabbage - and indeed its relatives, the Cauliflower, Turnip, and Kohl-rabi, etc. - are all great feeders on the available potash in the soil, from 31 to 50 per cent of the ash being composed of this food. Lime, phosphoric acid, and sulphuric acid are also absorbed in fair quantities, and indicate that the soil must be well and deeply worked to bring them into a proper state of solubility. [J. W].
In some respects the Cabbage may be called the market gardener's staple crop. Some have gone so far as to nickname him a "cabbage grower". The Cabbage, in some form or another, is with him all the year round; as a finished product it is on his stand ten months out of the year. The Cabbage is a gross feeder, and to produce it with well-developed heart, succulent leaves, and clear green colour without blue requires deep cultivation and liberal but judicious manuring.