Overview #

Brassica oleracea Botrytis, D.C.

French, Chou-fleur. German, Blumenkohl, Carviol. Flemish and Dutch, BloemkooL Italian, Cavolfiore. Spanish, Coliflor. Portuguese, Couve-flor.

In the different varieties of Cabbage known as Cauliflowers, it is the floral organs, or, more properly speaking, the flower-stems, which have been artificially modified in size and appearance in the course of cultivation. The flowers themselves have, for the most part, been rendered abortive, and the branchlets along which they grow, gaining in thickness what they lose in length, form a sort of regular corymb with a white fleece-like surface, which is rarely broken by a few small leaves growing through it. These floral branchlets, having become large, white, thick, and very tender, produce nothing but a homogeneous mass, so to say, and the rudiments of the flowers are only represented by the minute and almost imperceptible prominences which are found on the upper surface of what is termed the “head” of the Cauliflower.

Culture #

It may be said that the cultivation of the Cauliflower is one of the most simple processes, and, at the same time, one of the most difficult to carry out well. In fact, with the exception of the spring Cauliflowers, which are sown in autumn and wintered under frames, it is grown as an annual, which is sown in the spring in the open ground, and yields a crop in the course of the same year, without requiring any attention whatever except frequent waterings. But, on the other hand, it is certain that, in order to obtain a fine crop, the cultivation of the Cauliflower requires a certain amount of skill and tact which no mere cultural directions can supply. The “head” will not be regularly formed unless the growth of the plant proceeds rapidly and without any check from beginning to end, and the greatest watchfulness and most assiduous care sometimes fail to ensure this.

At Paris there are three principal seasons or successional periods for growing Cauliflowers. - In the first, the seed is sown in autumn, and the crop comes in in spring. In the second, the seed is sown late in autumn or in winter, the crop, in this case, not coming in until the following summer. In the third, the seed is sown in spring, and the crop is gathered in the autumn of the same year. Those which are sown in autumn, for the spring crop, are sown either in the open ground, or (most usually) on a hot-bed, in September. In the course of the autumn, the seedlings are pricked out under a cold frame, or in the open ground in a border with a warm aspect, where they are protected with cloches or bell-glasses. In January or February they are transplanted to a hot-bed, six plants to each light. The heads obtained in this way are the first that appear in the market in May. Almost at the same time that the plants are removed to the hot-bed, other plants are placed in cold frames; the crop from these is naturally later, and comes in in succession to that which was obtained from the hot-bed.

The Cauliflowers of the second season are sown in the beginning of January, in a hot-bed; the plants are pricked out into another hot-bed, and are not transferred to the open ground until they are pretty strong, about the end of March or the beginning of April, at which time they have no further need of artificial heat; the crop from these comes in about the end of June or the beginning of July. Successional sowings are made in February and March, and the seedlings, reared under frames or bell-glasses, are planted out a little later than those which were sown in hot-beds. This second season, in which the plants are pushed forward by special treatment and artificial heat, produces by far the largest quantities of Cauli- flowers that are sent to the Central Market at Paris.

Lastly, in the third season, the entire growth of the plant is effected, without the help of artificial heat, in the open ground. The seed is sown in May or June in a sheltered or shaded border, and the seedlings are planted out permanently in July, without having been previously pricked out. This method, which at first sight appears the simplest of all, does not always produce the best results, owing to the difficulty of protecting the plants from excessive heat and drought in the early stages of their growth, and, later on, from early frosts, which often mar the formation of the heads.

In England this is a summer and autumn vegetable, and at that season fills the position occupied by the Broccoli in winter and spring. The most valuable crops are the early ones in spring and the late in autumn. In summer they are frequently unsatisfactory during hot weather, and when Peas and French Beans are plentiful, they are not so much in demand.

The first sowing is in a general way made about August 25th, the time being varied according to latitude, as experience may direct. In some places the first week in September may be early enough. Select an open situation where the land is in good condition from a previous manuring. If the weather is hot and the land very dry, stir the surface for a foot or so in depth with the fork, and give water enough to moisten it. Draw drills 9 in. apart, and sow the seeds (which should have been obtained from a good source) thinly. Cover with nets to keep off birds; and if the weather continue hot, shade a little by laying a few branches with the leaves attached over the net. As soon as the plants are up and are large enough to move safely (which will be early in November), prepare one or more frames by placing a layer of coal-ashes in the bottom, and on the ashes, which should be beaten down firmly with the back of the spade, place 5 in. of light rich soil. Into the bed so formed dibble the plants 3 in. apart, and give water to settle the soil round them. During the winter the frames should be fully ventilated when the weather is mild, keeping out cold rains. In times of severe frost, scatter a little dry litter or fern over the lights. Sometimes Cauli- flower-plants pass through the winter safely pricked out at the foot of a south wall, or on the south side of a thick hedge, and sheltered in severe weather by placing evergreen branches among them. Another way of raising early plants, and an excellent one, is to sow in heat about January ist, and treat the plants as we should treat tender annuals. The seeds are sown in pans covered lightly with sandy soil, and placed on a shelf in a house where the temperature is about 60 at night. When the young plants appear, they will occupy a position in the full light near the glass, and when large enough will be pricked off into 6o-sized pots, one plant in each pot. The soil and the pots will be taken into the house to warm a little before the potting takes place. The plants will be grown on in the same temperature till March, when they will be well established; they should then be hardened off, and early in April planted out. This plan will not give more trouble than is taken every spring with the same number of bedding plants, and they do not bolt, as sometimes happens with the plants raised in August. Still another way of raising the first early Cauliflower-plants may be described as intermediate between the cool treatment first mentioned and the warm plan last described. About the middle of October sow the seeds in boxes and place in a frame which rests on, say, an exhausted Melon or Cucumber bed, and which still retains a little of the summer’s warmth. Keep close till the seeds germinate, then give air freely, and when the plants are large enough, pot off singly in small pots. Winter on a shelf in the lightest part of the greenhouse.

Planting Under Hand-Lights #

These are old-fashioned but excel- lent contrivances. About March, acting as all must according to the character of the weather, arrange the lights for the early crop in a warm, sunny, sheltered position, where the soil is deep and rich, 3 ft. apart each way, and plant four plants under each light. As the season advances, ventilation will be required, either by placing the lights on bricks, or, if the lights have movable tops, by altering their position. A few early Cauliflowers may generally be obtained by planting in front of a south wall, almost close to it, to take advantage of the sun’s warmth, which accumu- lates there both on the soil and in the air. Such plants may be further assisted by a ridge of soil in front, and when the weather gets warm, later in the season, this ridge of soil will help to confine the soakings of liquid manure which good culti- vators will obtain by hook or by crook for their early Cauliflowers.

Successional Sowings #

should be made in March in heat. A few seeds may be sown among any other young crops, such as Early Horn Carrots, as the Cauliflowers will be transplanted before any harm can be done. If it is not convenient to do this, sow the seed in a box, and place it where there is some artificial warmth, harden off, and plant out as seems necessary. The Autumn Giant should be sown in March for late summer and autumn use. This is a very valuable Cauliflower for hot seasons. It is very difficult with any other sort to secure close,

firm hearts in August and Septem- ber, but the cross of the Broccoli, that is so apparent, and which gives this kind its hardiness, almost makes it heat and drought proof hence its great value, not only in the late autumn, but also through the season from August up till Christmas. Sow the Walcheren in April, and again in May and June for autumn. This, with the Autumn Giant, will furnish a supply till the winter Broccoli turn in. In some situations Cauli- flowers are very uncertain; they must have plenty of rich manure. In such, to get them good, I have opened a trench 4 ft. wide all across a quarter, worked in plenty of manure, then drawn three drills at equal distances apart in the trench, and sown seeds of the Walcheren thinly. If it is necessary to sow in trenches, this is a better plan than having single rows, as the better soil and manure being in bulk will retain the moisture longer, and the plants will do better. When the seedlings are strong enough to transplant, single them out, leaving the strongest, and for this crop they may with advantage be much thicker than we should plant them generally. Small, white, close hearts are in the hot weather more useful than large ones, which nearly always develop a tendency to open. Some of the plants thinned out may be useful if planted under a north wall in rather deep drills. This is acting on the principle of never throwing a chance away. The crop in the trench had better be started about the first or second week in June, and if well attended to, and grown without a severe check, they will be sure to produce nice useful hearts at a very small expense. And it is worth something to feel that, under all circumstances, we may rely upon any particular crop turning out right.

Watering and Mulching #

Mulching with manure in hot sum- mers is to this crop invaluable, and, except in extreme cases, will obviate the necessity for much watering, though, of course, a good soaking of liquid manure in a dry season will never come amiss. The three sowings in the open air in April, May, and June, with the previous sowings under glass, will, if planted out in the usual order when the plants are large enough, furnish a supply from June till Christmas, if need be; indeed, I have had both the Wal- cheren and the Autumn Giant till after Christmas in good condition in a cold pit. The distances between the rows, as well as the distance between the plants in the rows, will vary according to the situations and seasons, but 2 ft. between the rows, and 1 8 in. separating the plants from each other in the rows, may be taken as a good average distance. E. H.

Culture in Market Gardens #

In London, it is hardly possible to overstock the market with this vegetable. It has the advantage over Broccoli in this particular, viz. that pickle merchants are always ready to buy up any quantity of Cauliflowers in summer, whilst for this purpose scarcely any Broccoli is used. In May, before Peas and Beans can be had at reasonable prices, good Cauliflowers realise good profits to the grower. Early Cauliflowers are usually grown under hand-lights, or are protected by old baskets or small boughs of ever- green trees. To provide plants for this purpose, a sowing is made on a well-sheltered piece of ground or a warm open quarter, in beds, in the second or third week of September. The young plants are allowed to remain in the seed-bed until the end of October, or even the middle of November. Should frosty weather set in whilst the plants are in the seed-beds, they are protected by mats supported on short stakes 18 in. above the ground. Sometimes a stout plank is set on edge along the centres of the beds, and two rows of short stakes are put one on either side to support it, and over this are placed mats. When the weather becomes too severe for them to be thus protected, and when they re- quire to be transplanted, they are taken up and planted in frames or under hand-lights. The frames are placed in a sheltered spot sloping to the south, and are filled to within 8 or 9 in. of the top with ordinary soil firmly trampled down with the feet; over this better soil is sifted to a thickness of 3 or 4 in., and in this the Cauliflowers are planted 3 in. or so apart. In this position they remain until the February following or early part of March without any further care beyond that of closing the sashes to exclude frosts, cold winds, hail, or rain, and tilting them up at front and back during favour- able weather, and on very fine days drawing them off entirely. Cold rains are very injurious to Cauli- flowers, but a warm shower in February benefits them. Sometimes the plants grow so strongly that their leaves touch or press against the sashes; when that happens, the sashes are tilted up at front and back, night and day, with pieces of wood or brick, otherwise frost would in- jure such leaves as touch the glass.- Dry sand, kept in a shed for the purpose, is scattered amongst the plants two or three times while they are in frames, in order to guard against damp,, and such plants as show signs of " buttoning " are im- mediately pulled out to give the others more room. Where room is limited and the weather appears mild, young Cauliflowers are often wintered in the beds where they are sown, or they are pricked off into raised beds of light soil not likely to be soaked with wet in winter. Here they are sometimes left unpro- tected, and at other times they are covered with hoops and mats. Continued dampness of soil and atmosphere is their worst enemy, as it induces growth so soft that it can- not withstand frost so well as that produced on high and dry ground. Where hand-lights are employed, an open field or quarter is lined off into squares measuring about 6 ft. each way. At every intersection nine Cauliflowers are planted in a suffi- ciently small space to be conveniently covered with cloches or hand-lights, which are immediately placed over them, and a little earth is drawn around the base of the lights so as to shut up all apertures. The empty spaces between the rows of hand- lights are planted with Coleworts. In spring these Coleworts are either thinned out or entirely removed for market, and a crop of Cos Lettuces is planted in their place. As soon as the Cauliflowers have become established they are allowed abun- dance of air, and otherwise treated the same as those grown in frames. When the plants become too thick, they are all lifted from under the hand-lights and planted in open quarters or under other hand-lights. Market-gardeners generally begin to cut from Cauliflower-plants raised in this way some time in the month of May, according to the mildness or otherwise of the season. The best growers seldom make many sowings of Cauliflowers; one or two in autumn and one or two in spring being the usual number. The first autumn sowing, as before stated, is made out-of-doors some time between the last week in August and the third week in Sep- tember; and the second one, in frames, in the last week of Septem- ber or first week in October. From these two sowings Cauliflowers are obtained from the last week in April to the end of June. The first spring sowing, if the autumn one is a failure, is made in a frame in the last week of February or first week of March, or it may be made in the open border any time during the first fortnight of March; from this sowing a crop is obtained from the middle of June till August or September. The third sowing is commonly made in beds, in some open quarter, between the middle of April and the first week in May, in order to furnish an autumn supply. Different market- gardeners have different times for sowing Cauli- flowers, but it is well understood that strong, grossly grown plants do not stand the winter so well as medium-sized ones, and they are also more liable to “button.” Moderate- sized plants are decidedly the best for mild winters, but in the event of very severe winters occurring, strong plants are the best. Cauliflowers which have been wintered in frames or under hand-lights are often planted on ground cropped with Radishes before the latter crop is marketable, and by the time it is so and has been cleared off, the Cauliflowers will have gained good strength, when the ground will be intercropped with Lettuces. In other instances, fields are marked off into beds 5 ft. wide, with i -ft. alleys between them, and these beds are sown with Round- leaved Spinach. As soon as this is done, three rows of Cauliflowers are planted along the beds. The Cauli- flowers outgrow the Spinach, which, by continual picking for market, is kept in check until it is eventually exhausted, leaving the Cauliflowers masters of the field. The autumn crops obtained from spring sowings are thinned out a little in the seed- beds, and, when large enough for handling, are planted where they are to remain permanently. Should the weather be dry at planting time, a pint of water, or a little more, is given to each plant, and the sodden soil is soon afterwards freshened up by the hoe, thus, in some measure, preventing evaporation. Late Cauli- flowers are nearly always inter- cropped with some other vegetable, such as Lettuces, French Beans, Celery, Seakale, etc. Some large growers, however, depart from this rule, and save much labour; for, if intercropping be practised, people must be employed to keep down weeds by means of the hoe; but when Cauliflowers alone occupy the ground, horse-hoes can be freely worked among the rows. The Early London is the variety used for the first crops by most market-gardeners, but some use the Walcheren for that purpose. The Walcheren is the kind almost entirely grown for use after June, because it suffers less from drought than any other sort, and is not liable to “button.” Snow’s Winter White, an excellent sort, is, as a rule, regarded as a Broccoli; nevertheless, it has fine white, solid heads, and is largely grown to succeed the Walcheren, being hardier than that sort. Snow’s White, if sown together with the Walcheren in April or May, makes a fine succession to it, and comes in usefully till January. Early Cauli- flowers are always sent to market, but those produced in summer and autumn are disposed of to a large extent to pickle merchants, S.

Uses #

The head, boiled or pickled, is usually the only part which is eaten. The Cauliflower is one of the best liked of all vegetables.

Varieties #

Early Dwarf Erfurt Cauliflower #

A very early, very distinct, and really valuable variety, but difficult to keep true to name. It is somewhat under middle height, and has a rather short stem. Leaves oblong, entire, rounded, very slightly undulated, and a peculiar light gray-green, which, with their shape and rather erect position, gives the plant some resemblance to the Sugar-loaf Cabbage. The head is very white, but does not keep firm for a long time. When exposed to the sun, it soon takes a purple tinge, unless protected from direct strong light. " The leaves, which at first have an Upright position and cover the head, later on, as the head increases in size, sometimes spread and recline even to touching the ground.

Early Snowball Cauliflower #

This variety, a selection from the last, differs from it in its greater earliness. It is well suited for forcing; and is, so far, the best Cauliflower we have for growing in frames. It is now largely grown for early crops in the south of France.

Alleaume Dwarf Cauliflower. #

A dwarf and very early variety of the Half- early Paris Cauliflower. The stem is so short that the head appears to rest on the ground, like that of the Early Dwarf Erfurt Cauli- flower. From this variety, however, it differs entirely in the appearance of the leaves, which are broad, undulated at the margin, and generally twisted. The head forms very quickly, but soon grows out of shape, if it is not cut in time.

The Early Picpus Cauliflower is a slightly taller strain, and more vigorous than the Alleaume Cauliflower.

Earliest Paris Forcing Cauliflower #

A variety with a slender and rather long stem. Leaves narrow, nearly straight, almost flat at the ends and edges; head of medium size, forming soon, but not continuing firm very long. This kind is especially suitable for sowing in summer; if sown in April or May, the head forms in August or September. Imperial Cauliflower. This handsome variety is very much like the Dwarf Erfurt, but a darker green, and larger altogether. It is an early kind, with a fine white, broad, firm head, and remarkable for the regularity of its growth and productiveness.

When grown true to name, it is certainly one of the best early varieties of Cauliflower.

Imperial Cauliflower. #

Half-early, or Intermediate, Paris Cauliflower. A plant of medium size, with large, deep, somewhat glaucous green leaves, surrounding the head well, and having the ends turned towards the ground, the edges being undulated and coarsely toothed. Stem rather short and stout; head large, very white, and keeping firm for a long time. This variety was formerly more extensively grown than any other by the Parisian market- gardeners, but at the present day it is rivalled by the Short - stalked Lenormand and several other newer varieties of the same earliness.

Half-early Pans, or Nonpareil, Cauliflower #

The ff a y _ ear fy ^ m maitre Cauliflower is a good strain of the Half-early Paris variety. The stalk is short, and the head is handsome, large, very compact, and very white. It is much used for autumn cultivation in the fields in the vicinity of Paris, at Chambourcy, etc.

Lenormand’s Short- stalked Cauliflower. The appearance of this variety distinguishes it at once from all other kinds when it comes true to name. The stem, which is extremely short, stout, and thick-set, is furnished almost to the ground with short, broad, rounded leaves,not much undulated except at the edges, very firm and stiff, rather spreading than erect, and deep, almost .glaucous green The head is very Lenormand’s Short-stalked Cauliflower large and firm, a splendid ( natural size) " white, and keeps firm for a long time. The plant is early, hardy, and productive, and takes up comparatively little ground, so that it is not surprising that its cultivation has been very much extended in the course of a few years.

Large White French Cauliflower #

(CJwufleur demi-dur de Saint- Brieuc). A large, stout plant, with long, undulating, deep green leaves. Stem long; head firm, compact, and keeping pretty well. This variety, which is very much grown in Brittany, whence the heads are sent to Paris, and even to England, is very hardy and highly suitable for culture in the open ground.

Late Paris Cauliflower. #

This is the latest of the varieties grown by the market-gardeners about Paris. It differs from the preceding variety chiefly in being somewhat later, and the head has the advantage of remaining hard and firm for a longer time.

It also differs in the appearance of its leaves, which are very numerous, long, very undulating, and intensely green. It is the least extensively grown of the three kinds which are most com- monly cultivated about Paris, the market-gardeners there only using it for summer sowings to bring in a crop in the latter end of autumn.

Large Algiers Cauliflower #

A very good kind for the south of France and Algeria, of dwarf habit and vigorous growth, quite hardy and very early, with stiff entire leaves, only slightly con- voluted at the edges, and dark green, almost slate colour. It is mostly grown for use at the end of summer and during autumn, and is easily grown, not only in kitchen gardens, but also in the fields, provided it gets all the water it needs. The head is large, and its beautiful white head is well set off by the dark foliage. In foreign markets a very tall, late, and leafy variety is sometimes offered under the name of Algiers Cauliflower, but it is really the Autumn Giant Cauliflower, a very interesting variety, but entirely different from the true Algiers Cauliflower here described.

Early London, or Early Dutch, Cauliflower. A large and hardy variety, suitable for field culture. Stem long and rather slender; leaves long, not very broad, gray-green, and undulated. This is one of the kinds of Cauliflower which have the midrib of the leaf bare at the base for the greater part of its length. The head is hard and firm, but not very large. It is a half-late variety, and,

in its native country succeeds better than the French kinds. It is grown on a large scale about Leyden, whence great quantities of it are ex- ported to England to compete in the London markets with the Cauli- flowers sent from the French coasts, especially from Brittany. The name of Dwarf Dutch Cauli- flower given to it by the Germans is only by way of comparison with other

Early London, or Early Dutch. Cauliflower Dut .^ . va , rietieS > for it is

(^ T natural size). a tall kind compared with

the French varieties.

Late Asiatic Cauliflower. A vigorous kind, with numerous large, undulated, rather dark green leaves, and a shorter stem than the preceding variety, like which it is hardy and rather late. It is suitable for growing in the open ground, and should not be sown later than May, to bring in a crop in the autumn. This is a large and very highly esteemed late variety.

Stadtholder Cauliflower. Very nearly allied to the Early Dutch Cauliflower, this variety exhibits almost the same charac- teristics of growth, and its difference is that it is a few days later. In this respect it is intermediate between the Early Dutch and the Walcheren Cauliflower. The stem is shorter than that of the other Dutch kinds, and the leaves are more undulated at the edges.

Walcheren Cauliflower, or Walcheren Broccoli. This is the latest of all Cauliflowers and one of the hardiest, so that it may be regarded as intermediate between the Cauliflowers, properly so- called, and the Broccolis, among which it is not unusual to find it classed. It has a long, stout stem, and numerous long, stiff, and



erect gray-green leaves. The head forms very slowly; it is hand- some, large, very white, and of a fine close grain. The seed should be sown in April to ensure the head being well grown before the approach of frosty weather. When sown late, it often withstands the winter and heads early in spring.

Incomparable Cauliflower. Vigorous in growth, with tall, erect, broad, twisted leaves, of a gray-green colour, resembling those of the Autumn Giant Cauliflower, and medium stem. Head very large and fine in grain. A good variety for producing a late outdoor crop in the autumn. Sown in April and May, it is fit for use several days before the Autumn Giant Cauliflower, which it

Veitch’s Autumn Giant Cauliflower.

resembles very nearly in the vigour of its growth and the largeness of its leaves.

Veitch’s Autumn Giant Cauliflower. A large and vigorous variety, with a long stem and large, undulating dark green leaves. Head very large, firm, very white, and well covered by the inner leaves. It is a late kind, coming in about the same time as the Walcheren Cauliflower, but it is not so hardy. In the north of France it can only be grown for a late autumn crop in the open ground. It should be sown in April or May.

Giant Italian Self-protecting Cauliflower. Before the head forms it is not easy to distinguish this variety from the preceding



one, like which it has long and broad leaves, and the leaf-stalks much tinged with purple on the part next the stem. The ends of the leaves, however, are somewhat narrower and more pointed. When the head is about to form the central leaves turn and fold themselves over it so as to cover it completely until it has attained nearly its full size, when it comes into view for the first time.

Purple Cape Broccoli (Choufleur noir de Sidle}. In its habit

of growth this variety resembles the Algiers Cauli- flower. It has a long stem, very large dark green leaves, rather wavy, almost crimped, short, and broad for their length. It differs from all other kinds in the colour of the head, which is purple and coarser in grain than in any other variety, although very com- pact, firm, and large. This is not a very late variety. It is always grown in the open ground, and the crop begins to come in early in September.

The Russian Cauliflower, grown in the north of France, is a handsome long-stemmed variety, with oblong grayish, light green leaves, narrower and more pointed than those of the Early Dutch Cauliflower. It is a late field sort.

The varieties of Cauliflower grown in Germany under the names of Cyprischer % Asiatischer y etc., come very close to the Dutch varieties.