Korean cabbage is also known as Seoul Green Cabbage or small cabbage. The Korean vegetable is a descendant of Chinese napa cabbage, and it’s grown widely in Korea.
Korean cabbage is small and has a loose-leaf appearance. The tender greens are ideal for kimchi- a popular fermented side dish or condiment found throughout Southeast Asia. Korean cabbage is commonly pickled in China and Japan.
If you want to make the best authentic kimchi, you need to start with the best ingredients. You can make Kimchi from almost any green leafy vegetables. Still, traditional recipes always use the small green cabbage grown in Korea. American gardeners will find Korean cabbage sold under the name Green Seoul cabbage to differentiate it from Western cabbage and napa cabbage.
What is Korean Cabbage?
Korean cabbage is not widely known outside of Korea. In the U.S., napa cabbage has become synonymous with Asian recipes. Few people know the difference between the types of cabbages.
You can tell the difference between Korean cabbage and other types due to the green Seoul cabbage‘s diminutive size. Napa cabbage tends to grow tall, tightly leafed heads of light green cabbage, ideal for many recipes. Korean cabbage is smaller and has a looser head.
The Korean cabbage leaves have a similar light green color to napa cabbage but have a slimmer and shorter white stalk. The leaves are more tender than napa cabbage varieties and have a similar flavor. If you want to make the best authentic kimchi, you should learn to grow small Korean cabbage in your home garden.
How to Grow Korean Cabbage
You will need to plan if you decide to grow Korean small green cabbage. It’s a delicious leafy green vegetable you’ll enjoy growing alongside other types of lettuce and cabbage.
Once you know the tips and tricks pros use to get vast harvests of small green cabbage, you will be able to have a successful garden and lots of Seoul green cabbage for making your kimchi.
– Where to Get Korean Cabbage Plants
Korean cabbage is rare in the United States. If you spot seedlings at your local nursery, count yourself lucky and pick them up. Most gardeners in the U.S. will have to source seeds from a gardener or a seed company online. Most seeds available are treated with Thiram to prevent spreading bacterial and viral pathogens that lead to diseases.
The downside of treated seeds is that they often cannot be grown as organic vegetables due to the treatment process. Any produce coming from areas planted with green Seoul cabbage cannot be labeled organic for three years. The United States Department of Agriculture sets standards for labeling in the U.S. It restricts the most common treatment methods for preventing pathogens.
– How to Start Green Seoul Cabbage Seeds
Since most gardeners won’t find green Seoul cabbage seedlings at local nurseries, the best way to get plants is by starting seeds. Seeds are widely available and are inexpensive. You can start seeds indoors, or you can sow small cabbage seeds directly in your garden.
Seeds from small green cabbage grow in warmer temperatures, so you should wait to sow in the garden until several weeks after the last frost. Sowing is easy. Just sprinkle the seeds in places where you want them to grow, then cover them with a light dusting of soil. Seeds will germinate quickest when soil temperatures are above 60 degrees.
Korean cabbage seeds must be within a reasonably narrow temperature band to grow well. Starting green cabbage seeds indoors is a fantastic way home gardeners can get a jump on the season. Just make sure their small green cabbage plants have the best conditions for growing. You can start seeds two weeks before the last frost and transplant them into your garden when the vegetables have three or four true leaves.
– Soil Conditions
Korean cabbage will grow in almost any soil type. The plants prefer sandy, loose, well-draining soil in sunny but cool locations.
It’s a good idea to use a garden fork to loosen the soil before planting. Adding a balanced fertilizer before sowing or transplanting will give your small green cabbage plants a healthy boost. Avoid planting green Seoul cabbage in dense, poor-draining garden soil because it can rot.
– Light Conditions
Small Korean cabbages grow well in sunny locations, but they don’t like to get hot (above 90 degrees) or cold (below 50 degrees). High temperatures can cause the leaves to wilt, and both high and low temperatures will cause bolting. You want to plant Korean cabbage to take advantage of optimal light conditions in Spring and Fall. You can plant Korean cabbage in spring and fall to get two crops with a lull during summer hottest weeks.
Korean cabbage is widely known for bolting in cold conditions. If the temperature drops to 41 degrees or less for one week or 50 degrees for two weeks, your green Seoul cabbage will bolt. Temperatures above 90 degrees also cause bolting. You can use a row cover to help prevent bolting when the temperatures change suddenly.
Korean cabbage gardeners need to water their plants correctly. The Korean vegetable plants won’t tolerate too much or too little water.
You should water deeply once a week, but avoid letting the soil get soggy. The best way to water small cabbage is with drip irrigation so you can put the right amount of water on the roots. Always try to avoid spraying water on the leaves because you can cause problems like mildew and rot.
– How to Avoid Pests and Diseases
As long as you use clean soil and find the majority of seeds available treated, you shouldn’t have problems with bacterial and fungal pathogens. It’s a good idea to rotate your crops so that cabbage plants aren’t grown in the same place two years in a row. You will avoid spreading diseases among plants by rotating your crops.
Common Causes of Disease
Incorrect watering of small green cabbage is the most common reason behind root rot, mildew, and blight. You should avoid spraying water on leaves because you can cause mildew that way. Gardeners growing Korean cabbage in humid environments should pay attention to the signs of mildew.
What Insects Feed on Cabbage
Korean cabbage plants are susceptible to numerous types of caterpillars, insects, and other pests. You have a few good options to protect your garden, though.
One of the most popular ways to prevent insect infestations is by planting companion plants. Chinese green onions make great companions because they help deter many common pests. A light dusting of diatomaceous earth weekly also helps keep insect infestations from getting out of control.
Harvesting Korean Green Cabbage
You can harvest Korean cabbage when it’s 10-12″ tall for mature plants ideal to use in kimchi recipes. Gardeners can use a sharp knife or snips to sever the plant right at ground level. In some growing conditions, the root may regrow. Alternatively, you can harvest lower leaves from your growing Korean green cabbage plants as needed, and the rest of the plant will keep growing.
How to Make Kimchi
The most common culinary use of Korean cabbage is to make the classic side dish known as kimchi. The name is sometimes spelled kimchee, gimchi, or kim chee. Kimchi is a staple in both North and South Korean cuisine.
While there are many different variations on kimchi, small green Korean cabbage is the main ingredient. The cabbage is fermented in saltwater with Korean radishes, fish or soy sauce, and gochugaru- a paste made from dried Korean chili peppers.
Nutritional Benefits of Kimchi
When you make kimchi, you unleash a potent nutritional food source. The fermented cabbage is an excellent source of probiotic bacteria that provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent cancer. It can also help to give a boost to your immune system. Kimchi can be a high-sodium food, so you should avoid overeating.
The types of vegetables the cook uses can impart unique flavors and also give you great health benefits. Korean cabbage is a good source of iron and other minerals, while Korean radishes and carrots add essential vitamins and nutrients.
Making your kimchi at home is a great way to spend time with your family. You are also making a delicious and nutritious side dish you’ll enjoy on dozens of Southeast Asian recipes. But, making kimchi at home can be challenging because very few stores carry Korean green cabbage.
You can quickly grow a healthy crop of green Seoul Cabbage in your home garden. It makes an excellent addition to your edible garden, and you may even find your friends have some homegrown Korean green cabbage seeds.