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Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Advantages of Container Vegetable Gardens
  Best Vegetable Crops for Containers
  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Container Vegetable Gardening Tips
  Container Vegetable Gardens
  Double Your Crops
  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Tomatoes in Pots
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
  Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas
  Indoor Vegetable Gardening How to Tips
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
  List of vegetable crops by difficulty
  Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
  Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Planning your Container Crops
  Planting Tomatoes Upside Down
  Potato Container Garden Tips
  Preparing a Vegetable Garden
  Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
  Vegetable Container Garden Tips
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
  Why Vegetable Container Gardening is Getting More Popular Today Than Ever
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips




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Organic Gardening:


How to grow organic Cauliflower


by

Cauliflower
Cauliflowers are the most well known edible flowers

Cauliflower

Brassica oleracea Botrytis group

Family: Cruciferae (Group 2)

Cauliflower is the most well known edible flower. And it makes such a delectable and versatile vegetable. Of course, you can use it as a standard meal accompaniment, and raw in salads, but it's also great with sauces as a meal in its own right or for cauliflower bhaji, for example. I like it just lightly cooked and served up with a knob of butter.

Unfortunately, it's not the easiest of brassicas to grow. In fact, it's generally classified as difficult. So if you're not already a confident vegetable gardener with a couple of years of brassica production under your belt, you might be better to select from the other brassicas for the time being - such as calabrese, which also produces edible flowers.

Site and soil

Choose an open, unshaded site with fertile, well-drained and moisture retentive soil, which should be slightly acid (min pH 5.4, but see note on clubroot - add lime if necessary to adjust pH). Brassicas have a high nitrogen requirement and also need very firm soil. To ensure sufficient nutrient levels, it is best to topdress or apply a liquid feed such as seaweed fertiiser during growth.

Because brassicas are prone to soil infections, for example, Clubroot, it's important to use a minimum 3 year rotation plan.

Ideal pH is 6.5-7.5

Cultivation

CultivarSow/plantHarvest
Winter heading*:
Angers No. 2
St Hilary
28"x28"
mid May/end July
mid May/end July

Feb-March
Jan-April
Winter (Spring heading):
St George
Summer Show, Late Queen
25"x25"
May-June/mid-July
May-June/late July

April
May-June
Early Summer:
Dominant, Montano, Alpha Paloma, White Summer
21"x21"
Oct under cloche, thin to 2"
OR Jan-early Feb in heat/early-mid Mar
June-July
Summer:
Snowball, Le Cerf, Plana, Dok
21"x21"
March under cover/mid May
Jul-Sept
Autumn:
Barrier Reef, Canberra, Violet Queen
25"x25"
late April-mid May/mid-late Jun
Sept-Dec
Mini:
Dominant, Montano, Alpha Paloma, White Summer
6"x6"
April-early July in situ
13-18 weeks from sowing
*For coastal areas of the South, Southwest and Wales.

Perennial cauliflower (formerly broccoli) 'Nine Star Perennial' should be sown in March to April, transplanting to 1m by 500cm (3'x18"). The bed should be moved to a new site after 3 years' cropping. Heads are produced around February to March each year. All must be cut to keep plants productive in following years.

Sow in a seed bed unless soil is heavy, in which case use seed trays or modules to minimise root disturbance. Sow 2-2.5cm (¾-1") deep, spacing 7.5cm (3") apart in the row. Transplant at about 10cm (4") tall or when the first true leaves develop to follow legumes or onto a site which was manured the previous Autumn.

On light soils, plant into drills 8cm (3") wide by 10cm (4") deep and earth the plants up as they develop until the soil is level, otherwise on the flat. Plant firmly enough that pulling on a leaf results in it tearing. Use brassica collars to prevent root fly.

Transplant at about 6 weeks. This is to prevent a check to growth at a later stage, which may stunt growth.

Water after transplanting and daily in dry weather for 3-4 weeks, about ¼ pint per plant.

Hoe to keep weed free. Mulch to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Catch crops may be sown between rows early on, eg. radishes, lettuces, seedling salad crops.

Water up to 4 gallons per sq yard per week in dry weather. The minimum watering requirement is a single heavy watering 10-20 days before maturity.

The key to success lies in keeping the soil moist, both in the early stages and during the growing season. Checks in growth result in small, premature, deformed heads or no heads at all. The easiest types to grow are the autumn and spring heading types, as there is generally more rainfall in their maturation period.

Pests, diseases and disorders

Winter cauliflower (including spring heading types) may be damaged by severe frost. Preventive methods: either (a) lean plant to North and earth up on South side, or (b) tie leaves over curd (the cauliflower head).

Summer cauliflowers may be protected from scorch by bending a large leaf over the curd.

If cold conditions cause a check in growth, turning the plant bluish-green, apply a liquid fertiliser (such as seaweed feed) or hoe in 1oz/sq yard nitrogenous fertiliser such as Growmore 100% organic. Serious checks in growth may turn the seedlings blind.

On very acid soils, cauliflower may suffer from boron deficiency, indicated by stunted, brittle leaves, brownish patches of discolouration in the curd and inside the stems. Another problem which may occur, this time on highly alkaline soils, is a molybdenum deficiency, which shows up as narrow leaf blades and whiplike leaves. The common name for this problem is whiptail. Both these problems are much more likely on land which has been over-used without adequate organic input. Regular additions of well rotted manure every year will gradually bring the soil back to a decent state. In the meantime, if afflicted by either of these problems, you can try foliar feeding with half-strength liquid seaweed fertiliser every couple of weeks.

Note on clubroot

Soil may remain infected for 20 years; steps to avoid introduction include:

  • good drainage
  • rotation
  • liming acid soils to a pH around 7
  • working in high levels of organic matter
  • ensuring clean plants are used - source must be known to be free of disease (best grown at home in sterile medium)
  • boots and tools used on infected land must be thoroughly cleaned before use on clean land

Once infected avoid growing any brassicas except fast maturing types such as Texsel greens or cut and come again oriental seedlings. If you have no other land available, and you must grow types with a lengthy growing season, you can try sowing seed in modules, and potting up until the plants reach a height of 10cm (4") before planting out. A root drench may also help.



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Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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