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HAVE A GO AT GROWING YOUR OWN MINI VEG
Despite what is beginning to seem like endless rain the hosepipe ban is still in force – not that this is currently a problem. After what we have been told was the wettest April for many, many years we are now warned to expect a really cold May so we need to watch out for frosts. No wonder our plants are confused. But don’t give up – it really is worth while to try to grow as much of your own produce as possible.
I think it was Mark Twain who described the cauliflower as ‘a cabbage with a college education’. In fact, it is a group of flowerbuds growing on fleshy thick stalks. It must be one of the most versatile of vegetables and tastes as good as it looks. It is often served with cheese sauce as a dish in its own right or will add flavour to a main meal served with or without white sauce. Nutritionally it earns top marks being rich in both vitamins and minerals.
Over the past few years mini vegetables have become increasingly popular and are usually available at a price in supermarkets, so why not try and grow your own for a fraction of the cost – they will also have lots more flavour. Sow in rows about 23cm apart and thin out to 10cm between the young plants. Not all varieties are suitable so check the seed packet before you buy. If you intend to grow the traditional sized cauliflowers they need to be about 60cm apart for autumn crops and 75cm for those to be harvested in the spring.
One thing they don’t like is acid soil so treat the planting area to a thick mulch of mushroom compost to add some lime. Prepare the soil by raking in blood, fish and bone and repeat this about six weeks later. When planting out make a hole a little deeper than the root length and firm in the soil to just below the bottom leaf. Unfortunately birds and insects like young and tender plants just as much as we do so covering with horticultural fleece will help to protect your crop. Harvest your cauliflowers as soon as they are ready. Look out for the leaves turning back as after this the plant won’t get any larger and flowers may develop which will spoil the curd.