Every summer, about the end of July/beginning of August I sow the seeds of Spring Cabbage or Spring Greens, as they are more commonly called. If you want to be able to harvest something from the veg plot in early spring, when there is very little else to eat, then growing spring greens is a good plan.
The only downside to this is that you need to have space to grow quite a few plants as they are a loose-leaf cabbage that doesn’t form a tight heart. So if you only have limited space then this plant isn’t for you.
Different varieties mature at different times – I grow Wheeler’s Imperial and Durham Early but you can also overwinter Hispi in a cold frame and plant it out in early spring for a succession of leaves. If you leave them in the ground long enough they will eventually heart up, the idea is to leave one in three plants to develop, using the others for the leaves.
Because they are a loose-leaf type it means the leaves are fully exposed to the light and so they are dark green, coarse and often tough, and more strongly flavoured than most people prefer. It is considered to be closer to a wild cabbage in taste.
They stand up well to the ravages of winter, but I keep mine cloched as an extra protection as well as a deterrent to pigeons.
So – are they worth it? Well, it is an expensive veg to buy in the supermarket, almost £2.00 for a pack of four cut plants, which only provides one meal. So for me personally I say yes it is worth growing because I absolutely love the strength of flavour, lightly steamed with butter and nutmeg added – I am almost addicted to it. I could never grow enough to feed my addiction though – but when there is very little else to eat on the plot, I can always fall back on my favourite brassica of all – the lowly Spring Cabbage.