I get this a lot. “Why only tomatoes?”. Mostly my Mom and Wife. Ok Seriously, why only tomatoes? My answer is.. a) tomatoes are forgiving. b) tomatoes are needed daily c) they yield forever!. Don’t they?

Lets say I grow onions, It takes pretty long time to be ready for harvest and guess what? 3-4 months of growth gives me an onion or two per pot and that is used up in a day!. That I feel is less productive. I would have done two different veggies in that time. For a guy, who is so particular about his container real estate, it matters a LOT. So, I kind of stick with Toms, Peppers, Chillies and quick growing/yielding varieties.

Anyway, I wasn’t interested in cabbages either, until I came across a variety that yields quicker in 2 months. Guess what happened. Seeds sown in small pots the very next day! 😀

In this post, I present to you the variety called “Earliana”.

“57 days. Brassica oleracea. Plant produces small 2 lb round cabbage. This variety takes less time to mature than other varieties. It will cut your growing time in half! Suitable for home gardens” says a description on one of the seed selling sites.

Cabbages are transplanted or can be sown directly too. I had sown them in small trays and after I saw two true leaves. I transplanted them to small pots. In the small pots, shown below, the transplants spent a good 1 month. The leaves show, don’t they?

Step 1: Get the transplants ready.

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Step 2: Choose a container.

Creativity is your limit in choosing a container. But again, choosing old shoes and egg shells are unrealistic. Choose a container that is 12″ wide and 12″ deep. I simply choose the dustbin buckets like the one pictured below. It holds approx 8Litres of medium. The blue protruding thing you see is for the drainage. Thats is generally called as “Tank Joint” and in bangalore you have to ask “Tank nipple”. ( Dont get me started on that name). The one I use is 3/4th of an inch and is an inch from the bottom. Why so much fuzz… whats wrong with a simply poke-few-holes-in-the-bottm technique? If you are using a terrace or balcony you will know. The drainage water when it comes through the side, it is more controllable. I can connect all the outlets of all the buckets and let it into one drum saves water. Also, since the drain hole is 1inch from the bottom, it always stores some amount of water inside which prevents the plant from wilting off in hot weather.

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Step 3: Get the soil mix ready.

By soil mix I meant the potting mix. It can be a potting mix that you made yourself, or purchased from outside. The picture shown here is a 50-50 mix of Coco peat ( Coir Pith) and Compost.

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Step 4: Carefully remove the seedling from the pot.

This step is very important. The whole point is to remove the plant from its pot without any disturbance to its roots. If your medium is coco peat based then the plant will come very easily. You keep your hand in such a way that the plant stem is in between your fingers and your palm holds the top soil. This prevents the plant stem from breaking and the media from falling off.

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You can see the pot full of roots but they are not pot bound so no worries.

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Now gently turn the plant while holding the root mass with your hands.

Step 5: Place the plant and add more potting mix

Fill 3/4 of the container with potting mix and keep the seedling on top and gently add potting mix to the sides and with care, compact the top at the same time not damaging the plants roots.

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Thats it! the transplanting is over. Its time to water them and keep them in a place where there is no direct sunlight. Once they are hardened they will be kept where it receives atleast 6 hours of sunlight.

I transplanted 3 seedlings. Here they are.

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Though this post is titled “Transplant cabbage”. This applies to most of the seedlings.



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38 Responses

  1. Using the dust-bin is a brilliant idea. Why now I dont have to wait to go to LalBagh or Siddapura 🙂
    Again, I have one more question. Where do you get Cocopeat and how is it priced in B’lore?

    Thanks for this info on transplanting. I am still uncomfortable have had quite a lot of failures in this.
    This was my method I used and worked fairly ok – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashasusan/3655939187/in/set-72157606309142053/. Basically made simple pouches by folding ‘kora’ cloth and stitched through to make a lot of bags. Watering is easier because I just need to add water to the base pan. Transplanting time, I just cut a slit at the bottom and lowered it into the soil.

    • Thanks Asha,

      Another reason why I love the dustbin is its price. It is priced at Rs 14/- a piece in Avenue Road. It is stackable and portable.

      I went through all the pics on your flickr page. It is just awesome & irresistible. The pictures are so perfect and garden is so lovely. Strawberries are so nice. Any idea where can I get the runners for Strawberries. I read that they are propagated through runners. If there is any other way also let me know. I am all ears :).

      Great work!.. Why not start a blog?


    • Hi Jayadeep.

      I do use red soil but offlate I am more inclined towards cocopeat. Because it is easy to work with and i dont have to break my back cleaning the mess caused by using red soil. Too heavy and compacts too quickly. It gives very results though.

      I am ok with long cycle too but the yield should be continuous and not just one day. I had grown Okra and they make very good container plants.


  2. Hi GG,

    some great ideas here…. i have also tried the dustbins for very similar reasons and they work very well. the drain pipe is a good idea. well, do you put in some gravel in the base, till the base of the drain pipe? also, i seem to have run a bit out of luck on the tomato seeds. i tried 2 batches in the last 10 days, one in a mix of peat and manure and the other in a mix of manure and red soil. got the seeds at 25 bucks from a shop. none germinated! the okra quickly sprung up though. i do not think age of tomato seeds matter do they? anyways, here in chennai, i was getting just one variety of tomato and i am quite keen to get a few more.

    what price do you pay for the peat? and do you expand all of it at a time?

    i had seen some queries on vermiculite. in chennai, vermiculite is available through the TAMIN office, costs about 7.5 rs. a kg. any one wants to know the process, glad to help.

    • Hi Srividya,

      I simply put the potting mix all the way to the top. With coco peat, compost mix, drainage is excellent and the water holding is also optimum. An inch depth at the bottom kind of acts as a small reservoir.
      Too bad your tomatoes didnt germinate. Tomato seeds are viable upto 10 years. I have tried seeds of age 1.5-2 years and they have germinated well. Anyway, I can understand your eagerness to grow more varieties. If you need some good varieties of tomatoes let me know.
      I pay around Rs 40-50 a bale of 5Kg compressed coco peat. I expand the whole thing at a time and use it whenever I need it.

      I appreciate your offer for vermiculite. Gardeners are such generous people.

      Happy gardening.

  3. Thanks for very informative post. I’ll try growing cabbage in containers next season. I live near Seattle, USDA grow zone 8. Winter is approaching and everything will be dead soon. I think earlist I can start cabbage seedling earllier will be February 2010. How long does it take from seed to get to 4/6 leaves seedling (in your pic)?

  4. Hi gg,
    Are the plastic bins sturdy enough to hold a regular mixture of red soil , sand and cowdung manure ? I ask this because I regularly shift my pots around chasing sunlight ? I’m sure that the cocopeat mixture that you use must be much lighter..
    hi Srividya,
    I would be really glad if you can give me the address of TAMIN to purchase the vermiculite.

    • Hi Arundati,

      I initially used red soil sand and manure mix in plastic bins and they handle quite ok for 6 months-1year. But after that the brim start to become flaky and break apart if you move it around a lot. The coco peat mixture is way lighter and easy to handle as well. You can play with coco peat and walk with clean hands :D.

      Also, Arundati, I would suggest dont mix Vermiculite with Red soil It will become the worst mix. vermiculite is a form of expanded mica. If you press the individual flakes it will flatten and lose its property. Though I was using vermiculite initially, i dont use it now or suggest it. Cocopeat by itself is excellent in water holding.
      Keep us posted of your progress.

  5. Hi GG,

    Thanks for the compliment… but really, those are photographs taken over a long time. My garden is not that great 🙂
    I would be happy to pass on a couple of strawberry runner for you to start with. I have some to spare. Shouldn’t be difficult for you to pass on as I think we stay quite close. My experience with the strawberry plant is that the first plant took a bit to catch on after which it does propogate quite fast. But I have to beat the squirrels to getting the fruit though!

  6. Ha, I realized I pressed the ‘submit’ button too soon and now I can’t edit the comment. I meant I can pass on the strawberry runners to you and that it should not be too difficult to pick up for you since I think we stay fairly close by. If you send me a mail to my id, I can let you know my address. Sorry about the double comment!

    • Hi Asha,

      No problem at all.
      I am with a big smile now. Strawberries in my garden :D. I will send you an email shortly.

  7. Wow GG, cabbage in 57 days!!!!???? That’s cool. I’m still all nervous about veggies. Besides my gardening has slowed down badly due to various reasons, but I’m visiting all blogs again for inspiration and yours defintely does the trick.

    • Hey mouli,

      Yeah thats what the info about the variety says. Lets hope it comes true. You nervous about growing veggies?!. Its hard to believe. You have a green thumb. go right ahead.
      Sorry to hear that gardening is slowed down. I am sure you will be back in action soon. I had sent you an email sometime back about seeds.


  8. Hi,

    I have started Hydropnoic garden just a couple of weeks ago. I am from Hyderabad. There aren’t any good garden stores here. Can you believe I paid Rs. 150 per 5KG block? Imagine spending 1,500 for 10 blocks for something that costs Rs 4/kg at bulk!

    Are there any online stores that ship seeds to Hyderabad?

    How did you add the drain to the plastic dustbins?

    Quite impressive indeed. I will try to implement some of your techniques.

  9. Your cabbages look very good. I feel jealous of it. I have also planted ladies finger, brinjal, beans and tomato in pots. My potting mix is 1part of red soil, 1 part of sand and 1part of compost. I have kept in my terrace. But my plants growth is not at all good
    I have applied bio-fertilizers also. VAM for vegetables, azozpirillum for flowers and rhizobium for beans. I waited for 20days. Still the beans plant is not grown well. Tomato with only 2 that too very small. Can u please suggest me?


  10. A new fan of this blog. I am a keen balcony gardener and came across this while searching for some tips. geekgardener, did you manage to get strawberry runners? I have been looking for them for a very long time,

    • Hi Ceepee,

      Welcome to my blog. I have two strawberry plants that on my blog reader Asha gave me. They are flowering now. No runners yet. I will be more than happy to share if they throw some.


  11. Hi GeekGardner,

    This is really an inspirational blog. I am myself moving into indoor gardening now having left the habit when I left my home for a job in Delhi and now am thinking of reviving the habit. I also loved the idea of dustbins being used as pots and tank nipples :). Let me see how they go here.
    Need less to say the blog goes into my fav.



    • Hi Shashank,

      Tank Nipple is available in Avenue Road. Ask any Shop that deals with PVC/fittings. A piece costs somewhere around 8-15 rs.


  12. Hello,

    Hope u are doing well. My query this time is about the tank joints. I want to know how they are fitted into the plastic buckets? When a hole is being bore into the plastic, wont the bucket break? And after the joints are fixed, how do you handle the excess water that comes out? Especially when there are a couple of buckets with tank joints.

    For germinating the seeds, Just coco peat is sufficient or cocopeat+perlite or cocopeat +vermiculite? which of these is better?

    When planting coriander, how deep should be the container? And generally for growing vegetables how deep should the containers be, and how wide should they be? please give the measurements in inches.

    Im sorry for bothering you with so many questions. And also a big thank you for answering my previous queries.


    • Hi Indrani

      First I make a drill using a hole saw cutter that can be attached to a drill machine. Once the appropriate sized hole is made the tank joint just fits properly. I collect all the water through a tube and bring it to a common place. You can also attach a used water bottle and periodically use the drained water.

      For germination, I have used cocopeat. Its cheap and best. But if the quality is not good they you will run into issues. Perlite and vermiculite work like a charm. No damping off etc. Price is the catch.
      Coriander can be grown in 6″ tray. If you have a smaller container the yield will be less for larger plants. Its better to go for containers that 12″ dia and 12″ deep for larger plants like okra, tomato, brinjal. etc


  13. Hi GG,
    i have been digging ur archives for the past 3 days… and completed reading all posts from Jan 2008 to Mar 2010 🙂 and i must admit ur blog is an eye opener, a great inspiration for newbies like me.
    Actually, a fully grown amaranthus in one of my pots was the reason behind my budding interest in container gardening.. and ur blog just multiplied this interest a dozen fold 🙂
    GG, can u tell me where i can get these “Earlaina” cabbage seeds at Bangalore? Also, does Lalbagh sell seeds of diff varieties of tomatoes?


    • Hi Goodearth,

      Thanks for spending time reading my posts with patience. Glad to hear you are into gardening. Earliana can be found in Lalbagh nursery men co-op. ( double road entrance). Lalbagh doesn’t many of the varieties you see here. Most of them are Dept of Hort( Hulimavu), Annandana and some varieties are from Blog Friends.


  14. Hi GG,
    This time a question about cabbage.
    I recently got a packet of red cabbage seeds and sowed them imagining to be eating home grown red cabbage sald in a few months time. Counting my chickens before they hatch! the seeds did not germinate at all.:( 15 days and not a spot of green in the pot.
    What could be the reason? I have sowed them in a mix of cocosoil and vermicompost and also tried to induce germination by the tissue paper method.
    Please help. The seeds are from Pocha Seeds of Pune

  15. Dear gg,
    What fertiliser to use for cabbage and from which point of time.i am a novice interested in gardening after seeing ur blog.and also which pesticide.do reply soon.waiting !!

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