All hail the cauliflower, the aristocrat of garden vegetables. It is not easy to grow unless your garden is in a location with cool, damp nights, where cauliflower should not be planted so that it will mature during hot weather. Plants set in the early spring or midsummer should produce good heads under average growing conditions. Are you up for it?
Cauliflowers need the same soil treatment as cabbages – you won’t grow worthwhile caulis in starved soil; they must have a footing rich in all the foods they need, and like a spoiled prince fussy too. Demanding lashings of dolomite or lime and complete fertilizer added to the old manure or compost on which the roots will draw.
Planting. Cauliflower seed is usually planted indoors for the early crop. For the late crop, it is planted outside in a special seedbed. Seedlings should be set two feet apart; but the larger varieties, need three feet. Heads should be ready for cutting in from fourteen to twenty-four weeks, according to the variety from sowing. Your cauliflowers will welcome light surface dressings as soon as the heads start to form; and again about three weeks later.
The curd of cauliflower must be protected from the sunlight in order to look and taste well. This is done by tying the leaves together above the center of the plant, as soon as it starts to form, to shield the curd from the sun and you’ll have bigger and better heads, if you do; and you’ll slow down the natural tendency of the head, as it matures, to run to seed.
Harvesting. Cauliflower should mature in eight to ten weeks after setting out the plants. Pull the plant up when the curd has reached its largest size, but before it begins to open up and become ‘ricey’. Cut the stalk just below the curd, handle carefully, and use immediately. Use a little crisp raw cauliflower in your next salad.
DISEASES AND PESTS in cauliflowers, are generally the same as in the cabbage bed. Protect the plants from cabbage maggot, cabbage worms, and cabbage aphids. Additionally, a deficiency of molybdenum in the soil can cause a condition known as “whiptail” the leaves become narrow, ruffled, and distorted; and plants fail to set heads. Insect pests of cauliflowers are the same as are encountered in cabbages.
Try a few plants. If you can produce good heads plant three crops in succession, grow a fine looking cauliflower – you will have done something to brag about.
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