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Gardening: Several shades of cauliflower

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gardening: Several shades of cauliflower

By Tod Palenski, Awapuni Nurseries

Did you know there are a hundreds of different varieties of cauliflower available around the world? And that white isn't the only colour cauliflower comes in?

At Awapuni we grow a 'violet' variety and of course regular white cauliflower. We also stock the lime green looking broccoflower - a hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower.

Both violet and broccoflower tend to have a slightly milder and sweeter taste than the white variety. All three are fantastic sources of vitamin c, folate and fibre and can be used in any recipe that calls for cauliflower.

You can grab your cauliflower or broccoflower seedlings from your local supermarket or Bunnings. Otherwise, check out our online store at www.awapuni.co.nz and get your seedlings delivered direct to your door.

Once you've got your seedlings you need to find somewhere to plant them. Like with the cabbage we recommended growing last month, its important you grow them somewhere you haven't planted any other members of the brassica oleracea species (broccoli, kale etc) recently. This will prevent your plants getting club root a diseases which stops the heads on your brassicas developing fully.

Not that I want to keep harping on, but if you read my last couple of articles on kale and cabbages you might have noticed me make mention of edible landscapes'. If you took my advice and planted your brassicas in a border or pattern, you may also like to consider adding violet cauliflower.

Wherever you decide to grow your seedlings (did I mention edible landscape already?) add some lime to the soil prior to planting. This will also help prevent club root. Then plant each seedling around 35cm apart. This will ensure the seedlings have room to expand and grow.

Because cauliflower can take a long time to mature, during the earlier weeks you can plant other seedlings that grow quicker, like spinach and silverbeet, in the spaces between each seedling. This is a great way of maximising the use of space in your garden. Your fast growing seedlings should be ready in about six weeks depending on the weather where you are. And your cauliflower plants in around eight to 10 weeks.

Remember, if the area where you live is prone to frosts, fold the leaves of the cauliflowers over (once they start to develop heads) so they don't get frost damage. And, harvest your heads before the plant flowers as, once it does, it will die. Simply use a knife to diagonally cut off the heads you have selected. This will encourage new heads to grow and will also ensure a long cropping season. If you harvest too much just chuck the excess in the freezer. They will keep for two to three months.

Lastly, to help prevent club root for next year, once you've harvested all your brassicas, plant mustard seeds in the soil (while you rotate your crops). When the mustard has matured to around 10cm (when the leaves are soft), dig it into the soil. This will prevent your plants getting club root - a disease which stops the heads on your brassicas developing fully.

- www.awapuni.co.nz

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