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Cabbages are ready to harvest when the head is fully formed and feels firm and well-packed when squeezed. Cut the head away from the stalk with a sharp knife. Leaving the stalks in the ground will result in the formation of several smaller heads which can also be harvested and eaten.
The cabbage plant, Brassica oleracea, is an herbaceous annual or biennial vegetable in the family Brassicaceae grown for its edible head. There are many different varieties of cabbage which include the white and red cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) and the savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda. The head of the cabbage is round and forms on a short thick stem. The leaves are thick and alternating with wavy or lobed edges and the roots are are fibrous and shallow. The plant produces large yellow flowers. The densely leaved heads can range in size from 0.5 to 3.6 kg (1-8 lb) depending on variety. The plant is usually grown as an annual. Brassica oleracea may be referred to as cabbage, Shetland cabbage, Savoy cabbage, white cabbage or red cabbage and is believed to have originated from a wild cabbage ancestor in ancient Asia minor.