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Cabbage and coleworts, which at the present day are the most highly esteemed of all the garden vegetables, were held in little repute, I find, among the Greeks; but Cato,1 on the other hand, sings the wondrous praises of the cabbage, the medicinal properties of which we shall duly enlarge2 upon when we come to treat of that subject. Cato distinguishes three varieties of the cabbage; the first, a plant with leaves wide open, and a large stalk; a second, with crisped leaves, to which he gives the name of "apiaca;"3 and a third, with a thin stalk, and a smooth, tender leaf, which with him ranks the lowest of all. Cabbages may be sown the whole year through, as we find that they are cut at all periods of the year; the best time, however, for sowing them is at the autumnal equinox, and they are usually transplanted as soon as five leaves are visible. In the ensuing spring after the first cutting, the plant yields sprouts, known to us as "cymæ."4 These sprouts, in fact, are small shoots thrown out from the main stem, of a more delicate and tender quality than the cabbage itself. The exquisite palate, however, of Apicius5 rejected these sprouts for the table, and his example was followed by the fastidious Drusus Cæsar; who did not escape, however, the censures of his father, Tiberius, for being so over-nice. After the cymæ have made their appearance the cabbage throws out its summer and autumn shoots, and then its winter ones; after which, a new crop of cymæ is produced, there being no plant so productive as this, until, at last, it is quite exhausted by its extreme fertility. A second time for sowing cabbages is immediately after the vernal equinox, the plants of this growth being transplanted at the end of spring, that they may not run up into sprouts before coming to a top: and a third sowing takes place about the summer solstice, the transplanting being done in summer if the soil is moist, but, if too dry, in autumn. When moisture and manure are supplied in small quantities, the flavour of the cabbage is all the more agreeable, but when they are supplied in greater abundance, the plants attain a larger size. Asses' dung is the best adapted for its growth.

The cabbage, too, is one of those articles so highly esteemed by epicures; for which reason it will not be amiss if we speak of it at somewhat greater length. To obtain plants equally remarkable for their size and flavour, care must be taken first of all to sow the seed in ground that has had a couple of turnings up, and then to follow up the shoots as they appear above ground by moulding them up, care being taken to throw up the earth over them as they increase in luxuriance, and to let nothing but the summit appear above the surface. This kind is known as the Tritian6 cabbage: in money and labour it costs twice as much as any of the others.

The other varieties of the cabbage7 are numerous—there is the Cumanian cabbage, with leaves that lie close to the ground, and a wide, open head; the Aricinian8 cabbage, too, of no greater height, but with more numerous leaves and thinner—this last is looked upon as the most useful of them all, for beneath nearly all of the leaves there are small shoots thrown out, peculiar to this variety. The cabbage, again, of Pompeii9 is considerably taller, the stalk, which is thin at the root, increasing in thickness as it rises among the leaves, which are fewer in number and narrower; the great merit of this cabbage is its remarkable tenderness, although it is not able to stand the cold. The cabbage of Bruttium,10 on the other hand, thrives all the better for cold; the leaves of it are remarkably large, the stalk thin, and the flavour pungent. The leaves, again, of the Sabine11 cabbage are crisped to such a degree as to excite our surprise, and their thickness is such as to quite exhaust the stem; in sweetness, however, it is said to surpass all the others.

There have lately come into fashion the cabbages known as the "Lacuturres;"12 they are grown in the valley of Aricia, where there was formerly a lake, now no longer in existence, and a tower which is still standing. The head of this cabbage is very large, and the leaves are almost without number, some of them being round and smooth, and others long and sinewy; indeed, there is no cabbage that runs to a larger head than this, with the sole exception of the Tritian variety, which has a head sometimes as much as a foot in thickness, and throws out its cymæ the latest of all.

In all kinds of cabbages, hoar-frost contributes very materially to their sweetness; but it is apt to be productive of considerable injury, if care is not taken to protect the pith by cutting them aslant. Those plants which are intended for seed are never cut.

There is another kind, again, that is held in peculiar esteem, and which never exceeds the height of an herbaceous plant; it is known by the name of "halmyridia,"13 from the circumstance of its growing on the sea-shore14 only. It will keep green and fresh during a long voyage even, if care is taken not to let it touch the ground from the moment that it is cut, but to put it into oil-vessels lately dried, and then to bung them so as to effectually exclude all air. There are some15 who are of opinion, that the plant will come to maturity all the sooner if some sea-weed is laid at the root when it is transplanted, or else as much pounded nitre as can be taken up with three fingers; and others, again, sprinkle the leaves with trefoil seed and nitre pounded together.16 Nitre, too, preserves the greenness of cabbage when cooked, a result which is equally ensured by the Apician mode of boiling, or in other words, by steeping the plants in oil and salt before they are cooked.

There is a method of grafting vegetables by cutting the shoots and the stalk, and then inserting in the pith the seed of another plant; a plan which has been adopted with the wild cucumber even. There is another kind of wild cabbage, also, the lapsana,17 which has become famous since the triumphs of the late Emperor Julius, in consequence of the songs and jokes of his soldiers more particularly; for in the alternate lines sung by them, they used to reproach him for having made them live on lapsana at the siege of Dyrrhachium, and to rally him upon the parsimonious scale on which he was in the habit of recompensing their services. The lapsana is nothing more than a wild cyma.18

1 De Re Rust. cc. 156, 157.

2 In B. xx. c. 33.

3 Or "parsley" cabbage, so called from its crisped leaves: the curled colcwort, or Brassica viridis crispa of C. Bauhin.

4 The same as our Brussels sprouts. Columella, however, B. xi. c. 3, and B. xii. c. 7, speaks of the Brassica cyma as a distinct variety of cabbage.

5 See B. viii. c. 77.

6 The Brassica oleracea capitata of Lamarck, and its varieties.

7 The ordinary cabbage, or Brassica oleracea of Linnæus.

8 A variety, Fée thinks, of the Lacuturrian cabbage.

9 The Brassica oleracea botrytis of Linnæus, the cauliflower.

10 Or Calabrian cabbage: it has not been identified.

11 The Brassica oleracea Sabellica of Linnæus, or fringed cabbage.

12 Or "Lake-towers." The turnip-cabbage or rape-colewort, the Brassica oleracea gongyloides of Linnæus.

13 Generally thought to be the Crambe maritima of botanists, sea-cab- bage, or sea-kale. Some, however, take it to be the Convolvulus solda- nella of Linnæus. See B. xx. c. 38.

14 From αλλς῞, the "sea."

15 He alludes to the statement made by Columella, probably, De Re Rust. B. xi. c. 3.

16 Fée remarks, that probably we here find the first germs of the practice which resulted in the making of sour-krout (sauer-kraut). Dalechamps censures Pliny for the mention of trefoil here, the passage which he has translated speaking not of that plant, but of the trefoil or three-leaved cabbage.

17 The same as the "chara," probably, mentioned by Cæsar, Bell. Civ. B. iii. Hardouin thinks that it is the common parsnip, while Clusius and Cuvier would identify it with the Crambe Tatarica of Hungary, the roots of which are eaten in time of scarcity at the present day. Fée suggests that it may belong to the Brassica napo-brassica of Linnæus, the rape-colewort. See B. xx. c. 37.

18 Or cabbage-sprout.

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