The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Why we are going to use labels and a planting plan in the kitchen garden this year

"cauliflower tree" with cabbage trees in the background

"cauliflower tree" with cabbage trees in the background


I’ve just written this post:
“When cauliflowers start to go to seed all is not lost”

There is nothing better than a home grown cauliflower. The flavour is sweeter and curds snap away from the main stem with a satisfying crunch. If you grow your own the entire plant can be used too – the large outer leaves and stem make a very good soup.

Growing decent sized caulis can be a bit of a challenge as the have one major need – water. Lots of it. A good mulch around the plants can help but if you have a light soil they need to be watered almost every day in the summer.

Last summer our brassicas were planted in our driest border in the kitchen garden. From the time that we found our allotment in July they got very little attention. They produced miniscule heads that were not worth harvesting.

Left to their own devices in the border the heads began to grow and by November they had produced little cauliflower trees with tasty shoots. Similar in flavour to sprouting broccoli, but the harvest was much bigger than a baby head the size of a golf ball.

So if your cauliflower heads are small in 2012, why not give this a go and leave them to produce their green stemmed florets. They are a real treat during the dark winter months.

White sprouting broccoli and cauliflower leaves

White sprouting broccoli and cauliflower leaves

Just as I was sorting through the photos of my ‘cauliflower trees’ I spotted that the leaves looked distinctly different from the cauliflower plant on the right of this photo. Danny came over and peered at the screen.
“Well, I suspected they were rather weedy white sprouting broccoli plants.” He snapped off a shoot. “They taste just the same.”

The labels which marked the rows have disappeared long ago and a planting plan would have come in very handy.

Meanwhile I’ll dream about my cauliflower trees. Maybe if I cross pollinated white sprouting broccoli with cauliflower I could produce one some day. But after this wonder blunder you’d never believe me!


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2 Comments

  1. Magic Cochin

    I’m working my way through my studio’s old white venetian blinds… the slats, cut into 8in lengths and shaped, make perfect large size labels for the veg plot 😉

    Celia

    (Heard Bob Flowerdew suggest this a few weeks ago on BBC/GQT, I think he nicked my idea!)

  2. Margaret Thorson

    The very best tasting cauliflowers are the overwintered ones. Most brassicas taste better if grown in cool weather. They are special varieties bred for overwintering. Thompson and Morgan carries them. We plant ours in May to set out in June and have just started harvesting them now. There are different varieties to mature from January through spring.

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