Cabbage and Cauliflower - do they need potting up?

Sunil707February 28, 2014

Hello Forum - This is my 1st posting since I became member few days back. Since then I was reading various useful info from different forums on this site.

I am member of a community garden in our city where I have 3 raised beds of 4 x 8 feet. Each bed will contain different group of vegetables. I am planning to grow a lot of varieties of vegetables, few direct sow in the ground and few germinate indoor then later transplant to the vegetable garden.

This is my 3rd year of vegetable gardening. The 1st year we bought almost all plants from local garden store and sow few seeds directly in the ground. Last year, I bought couple of seed starter trays (72 cells each) with bottom watering and a dome lid. I did not use the grow light. What all I did was sowed seeds in those cells and put the trays near window where they got good sunlight. Almost all the seeds germinated. And here comes the inexperienced gardener - 1) I did not remove the dome even when couple of true leaves were out 2) and one day decided to transplant all of them in the garden. Didn't know what was 'hardening off'. Result -- 100% died by next day. And I had to repeat the same as 1st year, buy from local garden store. I was not sad because I have heard that 'Sometimes We Win and Sometimes We Learn'. So learnt a lesson a hard way.

This time I am going thru lots of websites and YouTube videos to learn about various vegetables starting from seed. I have created a detailed plan on What/When/How/How many and a lot more. I have few questions for that I would like ask for answers. I will post separate question for separate topics.

My area info:
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5A (Illinois)
Average Expected Frost date: April 28th.

This question is for my Cabbage and Cauliflower. Based on the details I gathered, following is the plan:

Cabbage Start Germination indoor: 1st week of March
Cabbage Transplant to the garden: last week of March (or when Min Soil Temp 40F+)
Cauliflower Start Germination indoor: 3rd week of March
Cauliflower Transplant to the garden: last week of April (or when Min Soil Temp 60F+)

As per my original plans -- > Start germination indoor and once two sets of true leaves are out, potting up into 4" pot. Then harden-off the plants 7-10 days before the transplanting them in to garden.

My local garden store suggests not pot-up the cabbage and cauliflower, instead start them in a little bigger pot (say like 2 or 3" pot) and take them to garden directly from there after hardening off.

So the question here is -- Should I start seeds in small cell and then pot-up to 4" pot after the set of true leaves OR should I follow the advice of my local store to start the seed in a bigger pot and let it be there until planting in the vegetable garden ?

Thank You!!


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Personally I prefer starting them in the cell packs and then potting them up to the larger containers later if needed.

Reasons - you can grow many more plants in much less space and using much less seed starting mix. Plus it is easy to drown young seedlings in a bigger pots. Their root system just can't manage all the moisture in the 4" pot. Third the plant benefits from the one potting up by focusing on root development rather than top growth that the roots can't support.

This would be especially impt. if you aren't going to use lights and only a window. The plants will be stressed enough from the insufficient light without adding the stress of poor root development in a too big pot. Plus when you transplant them you can plant them deeper in the bigger pot to compensate fro some of their leggyness.


PS: welcome to GW!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:23PM
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Thank you Dave!!

I will start my cabbage indoor today in 6 pack cell. What is the thumb rule for number of seed starting cell and number of seeds per cell? e.g. if I need to grow 6 cabbage in the garden, how many seeds should I germinate to be safe to reach that number finally?

Thank you!!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 7:38AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

I always plant 3 seeds/cell, all the time, every time. I thin, of course, but I very rarely have empty cells.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:40PM
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