A moist soil and damp, cloudy weather are most favorable to transplanting in the field. The plants should not be checked more than necessary and an effort should be made to retain as much soil as possible on the roots. If grown in flats, each plant may be removed with a portion of soil and manure attached (Figure 38). Flat-grown plants if carefully removed from the boxes may be set in the driest weather without watering, either at the time of transplanting or afterward. It is urgent, however, that no time be lost in getting the plants into the field when the time for planting arrives. This time is variable through the North, but April 15 is not too early for most sections. If the plants have been well hardened, they will stand severe freezing in the field, and a drop of 10 degrees below freezing may do no harm.
In the South the plants are usually set in the fall on the south or the east side of ridges. Deep planting is important for fall setting, to prevent splitting or bursting of the stems.
Large areas are generally planted by machines. The transplanter is a valuable implement, because its work is better than that of many laborers. By steady driving the rows may be made very straight and the plants set even more firmly than by hand. The furrow is closed in a few moments after it is opened, so there is no time for the soil to dry out and the roots are brought into intimate relation with the soil particles. Water may be used if necessary. A team, a driver and two droppers can plant three to four acres in a day of 10 hours.
The plants may also be set by the use of dibbers and trowels. Some growers open furrows with a narrow shovel plow. When the furrow method is used, the plants should be set promptly, before the fresh soil becomes dry.
When cabbage is grown on a large scale, intercropping is seldom practiced. Market gardeners, however, with a limited land area often find companion cropping very desirable. (See Chapter XXIII (Succession And Companion Cropping)).
Tillage should begin as soon as the plants are sufficiently erect after setting and be repeated at frequent intervals. It should be continued as late as possible, crowding between the rows, even if some leaves are broken from the plants. There will be few broken, however, if the cultivating is done between 9.00 a. m. and 4.00 p. m., when the leaves are limp and bend readily.