This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Everybody who attempts to grow garden vegetables, and has possession of only a "city lot," thinks of planting a portion with Cabbages; but the same everybody does not always cultivate the best varieties, or manage what they do grow in the best manner. Owing to either one or both of these mistakes, they have for their trouble a product which, if not positively unwholesome, is far inferior in quality to what may be obtained. A well-grown and good Cabbage, when rightly cooked, is sweet flavored, tender as marrow, and free from all disagreeable or pungent odor or taste, and in such state, if it be not one of the most nutritious, is certainly a very acceptable kitchen esculent. In any other condition, it is not fit for human food, being partly indigestible, and causing flatulency.
All the varieties of the Cabbage and its allies have been produced from a comparatively worthless .plant found growing wild on the sea-shores of England, and some of the other mild parts of Europe. "The cabbage tribe," says Loudon, in his usually expressive style, "is, of all the classes of cultivated culinary vegetables, the most ancient as well as the most extensive. The Brassica oleracea being extremely liable to sport, or run into varieties and monstrosities, has, in the course of time, become the parent of a numerous race of culinary productions, so very various in their habit and appearance, that to many it may appear not a little extravagant to refer them to the same origin. Besides the different sorts of white and red Cabbage, and savoys which form the leaves into a head, there are vari-ous sorts of Borecoles which grow with their leaves loose in the natural way, and there are several kinds of cauliflower and broccoli which form their stalks or flower buds into a head. All of these, with the turnip-rooted Cabbage and the Brussels sprouts, claim a common origin from the single species of Brassica above menturned." Notwithstanding this immense variety, and the extreme liability o | sport, the individual sorts may be kept perfectly true to character when not in the neighborhood, or under the influence of other kinds whilst in flower; consequently, where the saving of seed is an object, it will be well to bear this in mind.
As there is no service to be rendered by an extensive list, it is enough, for all practical purposes, to enumerate a few of the best, so as to supply all the re-quisitions for culinary use. The following, therefore, will secure this: - Cabbage or Close-headed Varieties. Small Early York. - A Very early kind, close-headed, oval-shaped, small size, and good flavour. This and the next men-tioned, are the best two for the first early crop. The seed should be sowed from the middle to the last of September, and the young plants protected through the winter, as advised below. Plant, finally, fifteen inches apart.