Some farmers store a few hundred heads of cabbage in the house cellar. If this can be kept cool, moist and properly ventilated, the results are generally satisfactory. Most cellars, however, are not favorable to storing vegetables, and cabbage is an undesirable crop to have in the cellar of the residence.
Outside cellars are satisfactory if properly constructed They may be used for other vegetables. The walls should be stone, brick or concrete and the roof should be provided with air chambers, to make it frost proof. The cellar may be of any desired dimensions, 14 × 18 feet being the most common, and dug to any convenient depth and the walls built up even or slightly above the ground level. Rafters and boards may be used in the roof construction, or boards alone if provision is made for a ridge pole and purlins and supports between ridge pole and side walls. The roof should be covered with soil, sods, manure or other material, to furnish additional protection from cold. Small cupolas or ventilating shafts should be built through the center of the pit at intervals of about 15 feet. The gable ends should contain windows for light and ventilation.
Pits of both permanent and temporary character are in common use. They vary in width from 8 to 18 feet. The wider pits are more economical in construction for the amount of storage space provided, and are more convenient in use. These pits are dug about 2 feet deep, and the sides made of brick, stone, concrete or wood. A well-drained location should be selected for the pits near the farm buildings, where it will be convenient to care for them and to prepare the crop for market. The roof construction may be of boards or concrete, and provision must be made for ventilation, as explained in the previous paragraph. Strawy horse manure is excellent to cover the roof. Inexpensive pits should be in more general use among growers who do not produce enough winter cabbage to justify the erection of storage houses.
Various methods of burying or partial burying are in use. Where the winters are mild, little protection is necessary. Near Washington, D. C, the plants are pulled and stood upright in long, shallow trenches 5 or 6 feet wide; a furrow is thrown up on both sides and marsh hay spread over the tops of the heads, the amount of hay being increased when the weather becomes severe. With this plan the heads become solid and may be easily removed at any time during the winter. Farther north the plan is modified by making narrow trenches and providing better protection by using more soil, hay or manure. A favorite plan in southern Maryland is to turn the heads where they grow toward the north, and to cover the stems and the lower part of the heads with earth. If preferred, the heads may be gathered together and protected in this way.
On Long Island a very common method is to draw a furrow 6 to 8 inches deep, pull and place the plants in the trench with heads down. A furrow thrown from each side completes the work of burying. This makes a covering of about 1 foot of soil, which is ample for that locality.
The following plan of burying cabbage has been successful and may be used in all parts of the North: The crop is cut with sharp hatchets, stubs 4 or 5 inches long being left for convenience in handling. If preferred, the crop may be gathered and hauled to a convenient, well-drained field near the barn or other building to be used in preparing the crop for market. The heads are placed on top of the ground, in long rows, three heads in width, side by side, the rows running up and down the slope of the land, to provide drainage. The usual custom is to invert the heads, but better protection is afforded by placing them on their sides, with the outer leaves beneath. A layer of cabbage one or two heads in width may be placed on top, but this increases the labor of burying. The windrows should be far enough apart to drive between them with a wagon.
After the crop has been placed in this manner a two-horse plow is used in drawing two furrows on each side of the windrows, as much soil as possible being thrown over the cabbage. The burying is finished with shovels, when care is taken to get 5 to 6 inches of soil over the cabbage. If buried about the middle of November, the soil will afford sufficient protection for at least a month, when 3 or 4 inches of manure should be thrown over the ridges. Additional manure may be used in the coldest localities. If more convenient, the manure may be applied immediately after burying, but there is no necessity for making such an early application. If the cabbage is sound, there should be no loss from this method. If handled on a large scale, the actual cost of burying, aside from the use of manure, which should not be reckoned, will not exceed 60 cents a thousand heads.
The most serious objection to burying is the unpleasantness of taking out the cabbage in very cold weather. Large quantities, however, may be removed on the mildest days and stored in the barn or the cellar to meet the daily demand.