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Home Garden Possibilities –Cauliflower

04/20/10

Permalink 11:27:34 pm, by Melba
Categories: Health

Home Garden Possibilities –Cauliflower

Cauliflower
Cauliflower
Cauliflower Bed
Cauliflower Bed

In my previous article on home garden possibilities, I had told you that one of the produce that my husband had planted was cauliflower. Well this weekend we were able to enjoy the first of the crop. OK, so I’m a ‘show off’.   I can’t help it. It just feels so great to grow something, see it flourish and get to eat it. I must admit the end results could have been bigger however considering we are still in a drought, I’m very proud.

In this article, I would like to share with you some information on cauliflower and how we grew ours. The botanical name for cauliflower is Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is related to cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. It is an inflorescence vegetable where the part that is eaten is part of the inflorescences of the plants themselves (buds, flowers, stems, etc.). The head of the cauliflower is sometimes called ‘curd’ or ‘button’. Most of us are familiar with the white heads that are most often sold in supermarkets but cauliflower can also be found in colors such as green, orange and purple.

Cauliflower grows best in cool temperatures with moist atmospheres so avoid an area with too much direct sunlight, some shade is good. It requires a rich soil and lots of nutrients. A bag of horse manure at Caymanas Park is about 200.00JMD and it makes a great fertilizer. Prepare the soil before planting by digging up the area mixing with the manure. This is best done a few weeks before you’re ready to plant.

Cauliflowers do best when set out as transplants rather than planted from seed. It is important to use sturdy transplants and that they become established quickly or the plants may not develop properly. Set the plants in their holes, cover them just short of the bottom leaves, and build a little saucer of soil around each plant to help hold moisture. Young plants should be kept moist.

As cauliflower plants begin to mature and the flower head (or curd) is about the size of an egg, gather together and tie the leaves over the curd with soft twine or tape. This "blanching" is required to ensure the curd will be white and tender at harvest. Make sure neither it nor the foliage is wet; otherwise the plant may rot. The aim is to keep light and moisture out, but to let air in and also leave room for the flower to grow inside its shelter.

Harvest the curd when it reaches the desired size but before the buds begin to separate. This is about two months after transplanting. Start checking plants daily when the heads reach 3 to 4 inches across. If growth is interrupted, the heads may not develop or may develop poorly. Growth can be interrupted by plants’ being held too long, causing hardening and cessation of growth before transplanting; or by drought. Principle insect and disease problems are the cabbage looper and imported cabbage worm, cabbage root maggot, aphids, flea beetles, blackleg, black rot, clubroot, and yellows.

Cauliflower is nutritious, low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C. It is reported to contain several phytochemicals which are beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. It is also said to contain the compound indole-3-carbinol, which appears to work as an anti-estrogen, slowing or preventing the growth of tumors of the breast and prostate. In addition Cauliflower contains other glucosinolates besides sulfurophane, substances which may improve the liver's ability to detoxify carcinogenic substances.

Cauliflower may be eaten cooked, raw or pickled. Personally I prefer cauliflower cooked barely tender and snowy white. To prepare, remove green stalks, wash and soak the curd, head down, in cold salted water. Leave the head whole, or break into flowerlets. Cook covered in a little boiled salted water until tender or uncovered in water to cover. Season to taste; add butter or cream sauce or cheese sauce or brown buttered crumbs. The leaves are also edible, but are most often discarded.

Now that you know more about cauliflower and all the good it can do to your body make sure you try planting some. Here are some pictures for encouragement.

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