Only a few people are familiar with the term “cruciferous vegetables,” but in simple terms, they can be identified as vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage that belong to this group. In recent years, scientific studies have been analyzing the beneficial properties of these vegetables to discover their advantages.
We will try to explain how such a special vegetable, cultivated in agriculture in its various varieties, can have extraordinary nutritional values. Cabbage: cultivation and beneficial properties. Of course, we understand that we are not talking about an “Apple Pie” that can receive high acclaim, but we hope that through our contribution, you can appreciate the benefits and discover cabbage as an excellent vegetable for your recipes.
Continue reading about cabbage: cultivation and beneficial properties, and you will discover that cabbage is cultivated for food purposes in over 150 varieties, including the well-known kale, savoy cabbage, red cabbage, and savoy cabbage.
The typical form of cabbage is found on the coasts of Great Britain and Western and Southern Europe. In Italy, the wild variety is widespread almost everywhere.
It has wavy, wide, fleshy leaves that are hairless and pruinose (covered in frost), with pale yellow flowers. Numerous varieties have been derived from this species through selection, and they differ significantly from each other.
By enhancing the leaves’ ability to overlap and form a head or ball, we obtained savoy cabbages and savoy cabbages or Milan cabbages. By increasing the content of anthocyanins, we obtained red cabbages. By developing the tendency to form sprouts in the leaf axils, we obtained Brussels sprouts. By developing the fleshy inflorescence, we obtained cauliflower and broccoli. By thickening the stem, we obtained turnip greens. Finally, by developing stems and leaves, we obtained forage cabbages and ornamental cabbages.
It has smooth, tightly overlapping leaves that form a head or ball (cabbage) that protects the central bud. It is propagated by sowing, which is done in February/March in a seedbed under glass.
or Milan Cabbage differs from the previous one due to its wrinkled or blistered leaves. These two varieties include different forms in terms of physiology, earliness (spring, autumn, and winter varieties), appearance of the head (round, elliptical, conical, heart-shaped), and leaf color (green, bluish-green, red-violet).
These cabbages are the most widely cultivated for human consumption. They prefer rather clayey, well-worked, and fertilized soil. Sowing is done in a seedbed in March, June, and September, using approximately 3 grams of seed per square meter.
The seedlings are transplanted 50 days after sowing, into already fertilized soil, taking great care not to let the young plants suffer from thirst.
During transplanting, it is advisable to carefully select the various specimens, discarding those without vegetative apices. The cultivation of savoy cabbage continues with hoeing every 20-30 days and well-controlled watering to maintain constant freshness in the soil. It is important to remove weeds as frequently as possible.
It has a stem about 1 meter tall with a tuft of dark green leaves that form a floppy ball and many other compact balls (the sprouts) located in the leaf axils of the stem.
There are numerous different forms of this variety in terms of earliness, and they are easy to cultivate. Sowing is done in a hotbed in March, and in May, the seedlings are transplanted when they are 20-25 cm tall. After their development, they are topped to stimulate the thickening of the round leafy heads.
The harvest of the product takes place from late autumn to almost all of February-March, depending on the sowing period.
It is not advisable to administer fertilizers with a high nitrogen content as it would cause the loss of the solid compactness of the heads.
It is widely cultivated in America and is becoming more popular because of its excellent taste and high yield. It has curly, wide, wavy leaves with well-developed and fleshy ribs, while the savoy cabbage has an elongated oval shape.
Chinese cabbage is characterized by not having a head or flower, but it has many leaves. It includes some fodder forms, a few important forms for human consumption, and many ornamental forms.
The fodder cabbages have long stems with large, compact, entire leaves of bluish-green color (giant cabbages, cow cabbages). The leaves are used for livestock feed, but the young leaves and sprouts are also used for human consumption. Ornamental cabbages resemble fodder cabbages; they have leaves of various shapes and colors and are highly resistant to cold.
It has a robust stem, 20 to 50 cm tall, with oblong leaves provided with a large whitish central rib. The inflorescence forms a compact, mostly whitish mass, in which the flower peduncles are greatly swollen and close together to create a large multiple-cluster head.
Cauliflower does not have particular soil requirements as long as it is fresh and moist, especially during the summer period. Sowing is done in May to have the produce in autumn-winter, or in September to harvest the fruits in May; in the latter case, the seedlings must be kept in a glassed hotbed during winter. The required amount of seed is 2 grams per square meter.
When the young seedlings have developed the fourth or fifth leaf and reached a height of about 20 cm, they are transplanted, 50 cm apart from each other, into well-prepared and soft soil, previously fertilized with manure.
The cultivation of cauliflower continues with hoeing every 20-30 days and well-controlled watering to maintain constant freshness in the soil. For this type of cultivation, it is particularly important to remove weeds as frequently as possible.
More commonly known as broccoli, it is very similar to cauliflower, from which it differs due to its more widespread and intense green color and its more tapered, conical pointed shape of the head. It also differs in certain leaf characteristics, climatic requirements (broccoli is less resistant to cold), and because it takes longer to reach commercial maturity.
In addition, broccoli has a greater sprouting activity than cauliflower. This activity is more pronounced in branching broccoli (asparagus broccoli): after harvesting the heads, many tender edible sprouts called “broccoletti,” like other vegetables in the family, are formed on the vegetative axis.
It is characterized by the fact that the stem forms a rounded fleshy enlargement above the soil surface. Numerous forms are cultivated, differing in earliness and the green or violet color of the head, which is harvested while still young and consumed cooked.
It is a variety of cabbage, devoid of the central bud, and is characterized by dark green, lanceolate, and divided leaves with a blistered surface.
Kale is capable of providing some benefits in lowering cholesterol, especially when steamed. Kale contributes to the body by reducing the risk of cancer, as confirmed by scientific studies. These include bladder, breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Glucosinolate-based isothiocyanates (ITCs) present in kale play a leading role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.
Kale is now recognized for providing comprehensive support to the body’s detoxification system.
New research has shown that ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detoxification at a genetic level, combining antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, making kale a top contender for preventing chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.