September 8, 2007
Plant of the Week
The last two weeks, we have kicked-off the fall vegetable garden by talking about the newest 2007 Texas SuperStar, ‘Green Magic’ broccoli (click here http://agrilife.org/bexarcounty/programs/horticulture-gardening/welcome-to-our-horticulture-archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/green-magic-broccoli/) and most recently ‘Cheers’ cabbage. This medley of cool weather vegetables would not be complete without mentioning cauliflower.
Texas Cooperative Extension Horticulturists of Texas A&M University agree that ‘Snow Crown’ cauliflower is the best selection for Central/South Texas and Hill Country homeowner’s gardens as a healthy transplant at this time.
‘Snow Crown’ cauliflower is extremely nutritious and may be eaten cooked, raw, or pickled. Its name is a variety of cole or kale flower (cole and kale being varieties of the same word). An acknowledgement of its unusual place among a family of food plants which normally produces only leafy greens for eating.
The preferred garden soil for cauliflower must be well-drained and moist and have significant organic matter with a pH of 6.5-to-7.5. Of all the brassicas, cauliflowers have the largest number of growth requirements. The ability to successfully grow cauliflower in a home garden is often thought to be the hallmark of a well-managed soil, and of course, to be a good gardener. The growing of cauliflower is very similar to that of last weeks ‘Cheers’ cabbage, which may be found at (click here http://agrilife.org/bexarcounty/programs/horticulture-gardening/welcome-to-our-horticulture-archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/cheers-cabbage/ ).
The most common insect pests of cauliflower are the cabbage loopers. Aphids and flea beetles will also attack cauliflower. Control of pests can be achieved by using biological controls such as, using geraniums and borage, as companion plants to repel pests, the Bt bacterium, predatory insects or chemical pesticides. Diseases of cauliflower include: black rot, club root, and viral yellow. Crop rotation helps to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases. The viral diseases are primarily spread by insects.
Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, and possesses a very high nutritional density. As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower shares with broccoli and cabbage, several photo-chemicals which are beneficial to human health.
Cauliflower can be boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. When cooking, the outer leaves and thick stalks are removed, leaving only the florets. The leaves are also edible, but are most often discarded. The florets should be broken into similar-sized pieces to cook evenly. After eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, the florets should be soft, but not mushy (depending on size). Stirring, while cooking, can break the florets into smaller, uneven pieces. Cauliflower is often served with a cheese sauce, as in the dish cauliflower cheese, or with a meat gravy.
Low carb dieters can use cauliflower as a reasonable substitution for potatoes. They can produce a similar potato texture, and, they lack the starch of potatoes. Cauliflower is actually used to produce a potato substitute known as fauxtato.
So there we go, a little bit about the best cauliflower for our area ‘Snow Crown’ which is an attractive, healthy, and for most people a delicious vegetable. Consider adding to your fall vegetable garden some healthy transplants at this time.
For a complete listing of Extension fall recommended vegetable varities for Central/South Texas click here: http://agrilife.org/bexarcounty/files/2011/12/FallVegetableVarietiesRev07-08.pdf
Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu, click under Horticulture and Gardening.