QUESTION: Does cabbage come back every year? Will cabbage regrow if I leave part of the plant in the ground? -Tina P.
ANSWER: Cabbage plants do not come back year after year, as it is considered an annual plant, however, cabbage may actually be a biennial if treated properly. When harvesting, leave just enough of the bottom leaves behind to keep the plant alive to support further growth. If you cut below the lowest leaves, the remaining bits will quickly shrivel and die, so be sure to leave behind enough green to be a viable surface for sprouting a second round of growth.
Care for the remaining greens as if they were a whole new plant. Nurture it, water it, and even work in some nutrient-rich manure into the first inch of soil, taking care not to injure the roots in the process.
In just under a week, you should start to see some small sprouts beginning to shoot up around the outer edge of the original head’s stub. Keep on treating it as if it was a new plant. Before long, the little sub-heads will expand to about the size of a baseball. Typically, there will not be just one new head, but several, usually three or four, but sometimes as many as six smaller heads that grow up around the rim of the original plant’s stub.
In total, the second round of growth will provide as much food as the original harvest, but with a delicate difference. The cores of your new mini cabbages will be pale green, nearly white, leafy and very tender. The outer leaves will be a darker green, but even those will be quite tender and tasty. In fact, these mini cabbages are surprisingly preferred by many chefs to the larger main heads because of their extra tender texture and mild flavor.