Vermont Garden Journal: Cauliflower
This vegetable was once the rage at the court of Louis the 14th. It was made famous when Mark Twain called it a cabbage with a college education. Yes, it's the cauliflower. But before you go ho-hum over white cauliflower, let's look at how its changed. Through breeding there are purple headed varieties, such as "Graffiti," orange headed varieties, such as "Cheddar" and green headed varieties, such as "Panther." My favorite is the Romanesco cauliflower that features green heads with swirling spirals. These colorful selections contain more vitamins and nutrients than white varieties. So yes, cauliflower not only has a college education, it has as Master's degree.
The key to growing cauliflower in our climate is timing. Cauliflower is much less tolerant of hot weather than its cousins broccoli, cabbage and kale. That's why I grow it as a fall crop. Cauliflower grows great maturing from September to November. Here's how to grow it. Start seeds now indoors. Transplant them into the garden by the end of July into compost amended soil. Keep the young plants protected from flea beetles, cabbageworms, and other insects with a floating row cover and keep them well watered. Come mid August with our cooler nights, cauliflower will take off. The large plants need a good 2 foot spacing to grow and the leaves are edible as well as the heads so consider pruning off a few for stir fries. Most white varieties are now self blanching meaning the leaves naturally cover the head to keep it white. Start harvesting as soon as the heads are large enough to eat, but before the curds (small flowers) get a rice-like appearance.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about rudbeckias. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.
Broadcast on Friday, July 4, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.