Farmer's Market Fresh

In the Garden: Purple Cabbage and Coleslaw!

I know you pass it in the produce section, and you probably think it’s pretty, and with that deep purple, it’s probably got all kinds of antioxidants and stuff you know you’re supposed to consume, but you don’t have any darned idea what to do with it.

Cabbage is part of the brassica family, so it’s cousins are kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and more. brassica

All the vegetables above require about the same care–cool-to-warm days (they like things in the 70’s and below but not constant freezing) and cool nights. They make excellent spring crops, so you folks on the East Coast should go to the garden center and get yourselves a few starters. They’re easy to grow, and you can put them in large pots and raised beds, so you can put covers on top to keep the critters away. These are greens…so they like nitrogen. Put a little fish emulsion in your watering can once or twice a week and I promise you’ll thank me.

Since crops like these grow well during winter in Southern California, I’m harvesting the last brassicas in my raised beds to make room for summer crops like squash, watermelon, tomatoes, eggplants, corn, cucumbers and beans. This is the last of the cabbages. I had about seven in total.


You’ll notice that some critters got to my cabbage around the edges…you’ll have to be on the lookout for cabbage worms–voracious, fat green caterpillars that eat 100 times their weight until they go into the cocoon to become those little white butterflies you see flying around. They can do some major damage, so you need to look for them to catch them in the act. They’re often easy to spot because they poop and eat almost simultaneously and you can spot the droppings. Best to pluck them off and squish them or pick up a spray called B.T., that you can find the garden center. It’s safe for use in organic gardening.

It takes about two months for a seedling to be ready to harvest, and I’ve found the most enjoyable way is to make my own coleslaw. I don’t follow any particular recipe because coleslaw is basically salad with mayonnaise on it. I pick out what’s handy in the garden–celery, onion, carrots and such–then add raisons and mayo.

First I chop the cabbage…


I had some broccoli spears come up and the stems are really tender and if cut thinly you can eat them raw.


Then I mix all the goodies in a bowl…darn…forgot to put in the carrots! It still came out good though…


Finally I add the mayo. Just enough to coat the mixture…try not to overdo.


Then I refrigerate for a minimum of three hours. Unlike most salads, coleslaw tastes better when it sits in the fridge for a couple days. Give all the ingredients a chance to meld together. It’s truly delicious.



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