Coleslaw is an easy, make-ahead summer vegetable for crowds. You chop the cabbage and any other vegetables you want, add the dressing, chill and then scoop it out when you want to serve it. A good dish is even better if those vegetables are ones you’ve grown yourself.

Make sure the cabbage you plant indoors now for summer slaw is an early variety, such as Primax or Gonzales. Look on the catalogs or seed packets to find out if the cabbage is early, mid-season or late. You can plant late cabbages – for eating in fall and winter – directly in the field once the outdoor growing season starts.

For early cabbages, sow the seeds about a quarter-inch deep in potting mix and place in a sunny spot or under lights with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees – perfect for Maine homes in spring.

Cabbages can stand a frost, so you should put them outside about three weeks before the last expected frost. If you consider Memorial Day the frost date, that means they go outside the first week in May, planted 6 to 12 inches apart.

We have trouble with cabbage worms, so I suggest using floating row covers (Reemay) to protect them once you put them outside.

I can almost taste the coleslaw now.

– Tom Atwell


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