Brassica oleracea botrytis cauliflora This fine vegetable is managed in much the same way as Broccoli, and it requires similar conditions. But it is less hardy in constitution, more elegant in appearance, more delicate on the table, and needs greater care in cultivation to

insure satisfactory results. As regards soil, the Cauliflower thrives best on very rich ground of medium texture. It will also do well on light land, if heavily manured, and quick growth is promoted by abundant watering. In Holland, Cauliflowers are grown in sand with water at the depth of a foot only below the surface, and the ground is prepared by liberal dressings of cow-manure, which, with the moisture rising from below, promotes a quick growth and a fine quality. In any case, good cultivation is necessary or the crop will be worthless; and whatever may be the nature of the soil, it must be well broken up and liberally manured. In gardens where Cauliflower are in great demand, an unbroken supply of heads from May to November may be obtained by selecting suitable varieties and with careful management of the crop. But in arranging for a succession it should be borne in mind that some varieties are specially adapted for producing heads in spring and summer, while others are only suitable for use in late summer and autumn. For Spring and Early Summer use.--To have Cauliflower in perfection in spring and early summer, seed should be sown in autumn. The exact time is a question of climate. In the northern counties the middle of August is none too early, but for the south seed may be got in during August and September, according to local conditions. The most satisfactory course is to sow in boxes, placed in a cool greenhouse or a cold frame, or even in a sheltered spot out of doors. For these sowings it is desirable to use poor soil of a calcareous nature, as at this period of the year the seedlings are liable to damp off in rich earth. From the commencement every endeavour must be made to keep the growth sturdy and to avoid a check of any kind. When the plants have made some progress, prick them off three inches apart each way into frames for the winter. No elaborate appliances are necessary. A suitable frame may be easily constructed by erecting wooden sides around a prepared bed of soil, over which lights, window frames, or even a canvas covering may be placed. Brick pits, or frames made with turf walls, will also answer well. The soil should not be rich, or undesirable fleshy growth will result, especially in a mild winter. It is important to ventilate freely at all times, except during severe weather when the structures should have the protection of mats or straw, and excessive moisture must be guarded against. As soon as conditions are favourable in February or March, transfer the plants to open quarters on the best land at command, and give them every possible care. For these early-maturing varieties a space of eighteen inches apart each way will generally suffice. With liberal treatment, vigorous healthy growth should be made and heads of the finest quality be ready for table from May onwards. As we have already said, the best results with early Cauliflower are obtained from an autumn sowing, but there are many growers who prefer to sow in January or February. At this season the seed should be started in pans or boxes placed in a house just sufficiently heated to exclude frost. Prick out the plants early, in a frame or on a protected border made up with light rich soil, and when strong enough plant out on good ground. Spring sowings put out on poor land, or in dry seasons, are sometimes disappointing, because the heads are too small to please the majority of growers. Where, however, the soil is rich and the district suitable there is this advantage in quick cultivation, that while time is shortened and the worry of wintering is avoided, the crop is safer against buttoning and bolting, which will occasionally occur if the plants become too forward under glass and receive a check when planted out. In well-prepared sheltered ground seed may also be sown in March and April, from which the plants should be pricked out once before being transferred to permanent positions. Occasional hoeing between the plants and heavy watering in dry weather will materially tend to their well-doing, the object being to maintain growth from the first without a check. If the plants turn in during very hot weather, snap one of the inner leaves without breaking it off, and bend it over to protect the head. For use in Late Summer and Autumn.--Seed may be sown in April or very early in May, and where only one sowing is made the first week of April should be selected. A fine seed-bed in a sheltered spot is desirable, and as soon as the seedlings are large enough they should be pricked out, three inches or so apart. Shift to final quarters while in a smallish state. If the plants are allowed to become somewhat large in the seed-bed they are liable to 'button,' which means that small, worthless heads will be produced as the result of an untimely check. The distances between the plants may vary from one and a half to two feet or more, and between the rows from two to two and a half feet, according to the size of the variety. If put out on good ground, the crop will almost take care of itself, but should the plants need water it must be copiously given. Cutting and Preserving.--The management of the crop has been treated so far as to growth, but we must now say a word about its appropriation. The two points for practical consideration are, how to economise a glut, and how to avoid destruction by frost. Cauliflowers should be cut at daybreak, or as soon after as possible, and be taken from the ground with the dew upon them. If cut after the dew has evaporated, the heads will be inferior by several degrees as compared with those cut at the dawn of the day. When the heads appear at too rapid a rate for immediate consumption, draw the plants, allowing the earth to remain attached to the roots, and suspend them head downwards in a cool, dark, dry place, and every evening give them a light shower of water from a syringe. The deterioration will be but trifling, and the gain may be considerable, but if left to battle with a burning sun the Cauliflowers will certainly be the worse for it. After being kept in this way for a week, they will still be good, although, like other preserved vegetables, they will not be so good as those freshly cut and in their prime. It often happens that frost occurs before the crop is finished. A similar plan of preserving those that are turning in may be adopted, but it is better to bury them in sand in a shed or under a wall, and, if kept dry, they may remain sound for a month or more. Cauliflower for Exhibition.--On the exhibition stage few vegetables win greater admiration than well-grown heads of Cauliflower. Indeed, Cauliflower and Broccoli, in their respective seasons, are indispensable items in the composition of any first-class collection. By closely following the cultural directions contained in the foregoing pages no difficulty should be experienced in obtaining heads of the finest texture and spotless purity during many months of the year. The degree of success achieved is generally in proportion to the amount of attention devoted to minor details. Select the most robust plants and treat them generously. As soon as the heads are formed, examine them frequently to prevent disfiguration by vermin. The best period of the day for cutting has already been discussed. Do not allow the heads to stand a day longer than is necessary, and if not wanted immediately the plants should be lifted and preserved in the manner described in the preceding paragraph.

Previous: CARROT

Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon

Add to Informational Site Network