|Last years Cheddar Cauliflower|
Here in the Northwest cool weather crops are the only thing that will grow with a little protection. I don't want anyone to think I am some expert because just about everything I do is an experiment but I have had some pretty good results. Last year I grew broccoli, brussel sprouts, and a variety of cauliflower called Cheddar that was to die for. I also grew a variety called snow crown with terrible results. I didn't know you had to "blanch" cauliflower or that there are self blanching varieties. I didn't even know what blanching was but I do know it doesn't mean using hot water. Apparently when cauliflower gets to be about baseball size you are suppose to wrap the leaves around it and hold it in place with something like string. This protects it from the sun and helps it turn white. Turning white was not a problem for me. Knowing when to harvest was. Harvest when the heads are about 6 inches in diameter otherwise they get a ricey look and are past their prime. Since I lost my cauliflower to hard frost I think perhaps this is a better reason to blanch.
This year I put in some simple raised beds to make the job a little easier and to battle the constant crappy soil. I bought three pieces of 2 x8 x8 foot Douglas fir and cut one in half for the ends so the bed would be 4 ft. by 8ft. I didn't want to use treated lumber and cedar was just too darned expensive. So following the lead of my friend Cindy, I applied boiled Linseed oil to all surfaces and let it dry then had the man screw it
|Beets in the foreground carrots in the back|
Around here you need to plant your fall and winter gardens in late July and August to allow for adequate growth prior to the onset of fall. The difficulty comes with the fact that you are planting cool weather crops and it is still hot at that time of year. So it is very important to water, water, water. If you let broccoli and cauliflower dry out even once it will bolt instead of growing. Because I was building the rest of the raised beds at the time I needed to be planting them I opted to start the Cole plants in pots on my patio. My patio gets morning sun until about 1pm then it is in shade the rest of the day. A perfect place to start cooler weather plants. I also put the pots in flat pans so that the pots could sit in a 1/2 inch of water lessening the possibility of drying out when I forgot to water. When transplanting be very careful to not disturb the roots as this will cause a set back in growth.
I went ahead and put in two more raised beds that were 4x12. These I am using for the Cole crop and because I grew the plants in pots I had a ready made garden as soon as I was able to fill the bed with soil. This time I used a three way mix from the local soil company.
One of the things I don't like about Cole crops is the green caterpillars and aphids. The caterpillars are the larvae of the white cabbage moth or butterfly.
Sunday the oldest came home with her boyfriend to partake in a small family tradition. We celebrate the first day of fall with a family dinner. We had a pork roast on the rotisserie and a Caprese salad, acorn squash baked with butter, brown sugar and a slice of bacon, Zucchini and potato fries then topped it all off with home made pumpkin pie. We even had a little goat milk ice cream. All out of our garden and home made. (The goat milk was from a local farmer) Of course I forgot to take a picture so here is a picture of the table instead. Both of our girls start school the next day. First day at junior college for the youngest and first day as a junior at the University for the oldest. There are many things to celebrate.