Volga (Figure 68) is the only variety belonging to the group. It is highly recommended by many seedsmen and some growers are enthusiastic concerning its merits. The heads are fairly solid, roundish, conical, about the size of Succession. The leaves are crumpled, particularly at the base. It matures with Succession, is true to type, fine in texture and has comparatively few outside leaves. The stems are short and the plants are fairly resistant to disease. Volga is very interesting, but although it has many friends, it is doubtful whether it will ever be as largely planted as many other standard varieties.
For years, Long Island has been furnishing the bulk of the seed of all varieties except the Danish Ball Head. Seed of this variety is almost entirely imported from Holland and Denmark. Seedsmen and growers alike have been led to believe that Long Island grown seed has merit over stock from other parts of the country. Is there any foundation for taking such a position ? It is true that the natural conditions of Long Island are favorable to the cabbage, and that several men on the island have been successful in growing cabbage seed on a very large scale. On the other hand, just as good seed has been grown in the Puget Sound district, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan and no doubt in other states. Soil and climatic conditions are important factors, but the skill, thoroughness and conscientiousness of the grower count for more than favorable natural conditions. It is somewhat troublesome for a gardener to grow his own seed, but the plan is practical and is followed by a few careful gardeners. Good seed is largely a matter of intelligent and thorough roguing.
Fig. 68. Volga Cabbage On Limestone Soil.
To make proper selection of plants for seed purposes the heads should be nearly mature. A common practice among large growers is to sow so late in the season that only a small percentage of the heads will be well developed when the roguing is done. Such plants winter with a smaller percentage of loss than when more mature, but the selection is likely to prove unsatisfactory. The gardener should know the time requirements of the variety from which seed is to be grown and try to have the heads nearly mature just previous to burying. On Long Island, most late varieties are sown about June 15, while those of the Wakefield type are not started until August. These dates for sowing would be too late for most northern states. The plants should not be grown in excessively rich soils, for very large heads do not winter well.
The roguing should be done as late as possible, discarding all heads not typical of the variety. Thorough winter protection must be given to both roots and tops. The plants may be buried where they were grown and the covering removed the following spring. In this way a crop of seed may be produced without two transplant-ings; but the more approved plan is to lift the plants and bury before there is danger of hard freezing weather. Various methods are used in providing winter protection. One of the best is to place three plants side by side in long trenches, made by plowing a furrow each way. The plants may be placed erect with the roots down, but better protection will be given by placing them at an angle of about 45 degrees. Two or 3 inches of soil is sufficient covering at first, although no injury will be done by 6 inches of soil if the weather is cool. After the ground is frozen, several inches of manure should be added, and in the coldest regions a foot might be used to advantage.
As soon as the ground can be worked in the spring the plants are removed from the trenches and set in rows 3« feet apart. Rather deep furrows are required to give the plants proper support, and ridging or staking must be resorted to later in the season when the seed stalks are developing. To allow the seed shoots to push through the heads with ease the tops are cut crosswise at the time of planting.
The seed stalks are cut about July 1, or when the pods have turned yellow, and placed in rows to dry. From two to four days are generally required for drying. When dry the stalks are loaded on a wagon, which should have a large cloth extending around and reaching over the sides of the bed, to prevent loss of seed.
A tight floor is necessary in threshing, which may be done any time after hauling from the field. The seed should be milled and thoroughly dried before storing. It usually takes from 20 to 25 plants to make a pound of seed, although frequently two ounces are obtained from a plant.