Red Express (Cabbage)

Red Express (Cabbage)

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A quick growing, small to medium-sized cabbage. Eye-catching dark purple-red, tightly packed heads mature to approximately 12 cm (5″) in diameter with an average weight of 1-1.8 kg (2-4 lb). An excellent choice for smaller gardens.

Sow seed indoors in a soil-less mix 5 weeks before last frost date. Sow seed 6 mm (1/4″) deep and keep at 20 C (70 F) for the 7-10 day germination period. Grow on under lights at a slightly cooler temperature then harden off and plant outside in late May. Space plants 45 cm (18″) apart in rows with the rows 75 cm (30″) apart. Keep plants evenly watered through the growing season.

'Red Express' cabbage is aptly named. Sixty-three days to maturity is a sprint in the cabbage world.
The 1-1/2 to 2-pound, tightly compact, rock-hard heads of reddish-purple are your reward!
Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra 'Red Express' is quite a mouthful for a botanical name.

Farmer and breeder Nash Huber developed and improved this delightful quick-maturing variety for northern climates and space-saving gardening. It is a pleasure to see an open-pollinated variety as a viable alternative to hybrids.

The mildly, sweet flavour with a hint of pepper, makes 'Red Express' cabbage a winner.

'Red Express' can be either directly seeded or started by transplant. The preferred transplant method requires you to start the seeds in cell packs or small pots 4 to 5 weeks prior to planting outside. Red cabbage varieties should be started using a soil-less mix plus well-seasoned compost or soil blocks.

Direct sun or good artificial light for 16 hours a day, plus some bottom heat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, will produce the best seedlings. Spring planting of 'Red Express' begins in mid-February in these Missouri Ozark hills. Harden off the seedlings in a cold frame, hoop house or greenhouse for a few days.

Plant transplants by mid-March to get beautiful heads in early May. The 'Red Express' cabbage plants are more compact than most varieties, which allows for closer planting. Spacing for row gardening is 15 inches to 18 inches with rows 2 feet to 3 feet apart. Raised beds allow for tighter planting 12 to 15 inches apart in every direction. Red cabbages are heavy feeders benefiting from ample amounts of compost and well-rotted manure. After 30 days of growth, supplemental fertilizer, such as fish or seaweed emulsion, will greatly benefit the growth and subsequent heading of 'Red Express' cabbage. It is important to remember that cabbage benefits from cool, moist conditions.

Consider the use of companion planting with beets, onions, leeks, spinach, and Swiss chard. The roots of these vegetables are at different soil horizons, which provide nutrients to the cabbage that it might not receive otherwise. Plus, there is the benefit of confusing and deterring insects. By the way, the plant breeder, Nash Huber stated that 'Red Express' cabbage had the lowest pressure from aphids than any other variety of red cabbage he trialled.