CABBAGE

DR. S.M. ALAM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

July 18 - 24, 2011

Cabbage is used as a cooked vegetable or sometimes pickled or preserved by steaming and drying. The nutritional value is relatively high, although less than that of many other crops used in tropical areas as leafy vegetables. Cabbage is initially grown in seedbeds or seed trays and then transplanted at the four - five leaf stage (four weeks old). It can be grown on any soil type, but preferably suited to light textured soils (sandy loam, clay loam, etc.) with high organic matter content. It does not tolerate acidic conditions.

Transplanting is best carried out in the afternoon to resist transplanting shock. The recommended spacing should be 60 cm between rows and 45 cm along rows (approximately 37,000 plants/ha). After transplanting, plants should be irrigated continuously for three days, thereafter, two times per week until head formation, or as is necessary. A soil test should be done to determine the fertilizer requirement. In the absence of a soil test, the following recommendation should be followed:

Urea - 220 kg/ha - 40 per cent at transplanting (2.4g/plant) - 60 per cent at head formation (3.6 g/plant). TSP - 90 kg/ha -all at transplanting (2.4g/plant), MoP - 140 kg/ha - 50 per cent at transplanting (1.9g/plant) - 50 per cent at head formation (1.9g/plant).

If organic manure is applied, then the synthetic fertilizer rate should be adjusted accordingly.

Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea L. of the Family Brassicaceae (or Cruciferae) and is used as a leafy green vegetable. It is a herbaceous, biennial, dicotyledonous flowering plant distinguished by a short stem upon which is crowded a mass of leaves, usually green but in some varieties red or purplish, which while immature form a characteristic compact, globular cluster (cabbage head). The plant is also called head cabbage or heading cabbage, and in Scotland a bowkail, from its rounded shape. The Scots call its stalk a castock, and the British occasionally calls its head a loaf. It is in the same genus as the turnip - Brassica rapa.

Cabbage leaves often have a delicate, powdery, waxy coating called bloom. The occasionally sharp or bitter taste of cabbage is due to glucosinolate(s). Cabbages are also a good source of riboflavin.

The cultivated cabbage is derived from a leafy plant called the wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast. Also called sea cabbage and wild cabbage it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties declaring that "It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables. The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length. The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. Cabbage is used in a variety of dishes for its naturally spicy flavor. The so-called "cabbage head" is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes.

Medicinal properties: Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can also be included in dieting programs, as it is a low calorie food. Along with broccoli and other brassica vegetables, cabbage is a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. The compound is also used as an adjuvant therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death. Boiling reduces anti-cancer properties.

In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort.

Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women. Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers. Cabbage may also act as a goitrogen. It blocks organification in thyroid cells, thus inhibiting the production of the thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). The result is an increased secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) due to low thyroid hormone levels. This increase in TSH results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland goiter.

The health benefits of the cabbage are now well known and still, this vegetable does not seem to be present in our diet. Studies suggest that it should be brought to our table 2 to 3 times a week. If you are reluctant to eat some because of the flatulences it produces, you will see that there are some tips to help overcome this trouble.

In the middle ages, this vegetable was called "the drug of the poor".

Few vegetables have more healing properties than cabbage. Unfortunately, nowadays, people prefer to rely on drugs rather than healing food. I do not say that you should not use medication but just that for some cases cabbage could be a great help but we do not even consider it. If you are interested, many books have been written about it and its medicinal uses.

The most interesting property of this vegetable is its power to reduce the risk of developing a colon cancer. Studies have shown that population who eat large amounts of cabbage have low rate of colon cancer. This is due to its high content in fibers and chemicals. Fibers help our intestines to stay healthy by increasing our transit movements. Cabbage also contains chemicals that inhibit tumor growth and protect cells against free radicals.

Some of its chemicals are believed to speed up the body's metabolism of estrogen and therefore reduce the incidence of breast, uterus, and ovaries cancer. Cabbage is also an excellent source of beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor). These anti-oxidants are helpful to fight free radicals that are circulating in our body and increase our process of aging.

The high amount of beta-carotene may cut the risk of cataracts. Cabbage is a good source of folic acid which lowers the risk of having babies with Spina bifida. Juiced cabbage promotes healing of some ulcers. Cabbage also reduces risk of heart disease and stroke and alleviates rheumatisms and skin problems. On top of all these properties, this vegetable is low in calories.