Cauliflower and Other Follies

People sometimes think that because I’m a Master Gardener, all my gardening projects turn out, well, masterfully. If only they knew the truth!

Last year I decided I would grow some cauliflower for the fall garden, along with the usual broccoli and cabbage. I hadn’t grown cauliflower in years, and I was looking forward to it. I started seeds for all these crops in June. In late July I set out 6 cauliflower plants and 18 broccolis, which I decided would give us plenty to eat fresh and share with others as well as some to freeze. In October they all started heading up. Yippee! Soon the cauliflower heads would need blanching, which I would do by covering up the heads with the leaves of the plant, to prevent sunlight from reaching it. Only there was a problem – a BIG problem. All the little baby cauliflower heads looked suspiciously like broccoli. In fact, the alleged cauliflower plants were nearly identical to the alleged broccoli plants. I use the word “alleged” liberally here, because at that point I wasn’t believing anything!

In the end, I wound up with 24 broccoli plants and no cauliflower. I’m not sure if I planted the wrong seed by mistake, or if the seed company messed up and put broccoli seed in a cauliflower packet. The seeds of the cabbage family all look pretty much alike (as do the young seedlings), so it’s certainly possible it was their fault. But it’s also possible that I was the one who messed up, by planting seeds from the wrong packet. I’ll never know for sure. At any rate, we enjoyed the bonanza of broccoli.

This year I ordered new cauliflower seed from a different company – just to be safe. I set out 4 plants in early August, along with broccoli, kale and collard seedlings. But the birds promptly flocked in and started pecking at all the young plants, killing half of the cauliflower and almost all of the kale and collards. ACK!!! I put caging around the remaining two cauliflowers and restarted the seeds for the greens.

Snow Crown cauliflower

Snow Crown cauliflower

I am happy to report the cauliflowers grew nicely and turned into respectable, tasty heads – just like they are supposed to! And I suppose I could just trot out a nice photo and a little recipe and pretend like it all went according to plan…but I won’t. I had a few other gardening mishaps this year, but frankly, that’s all the True Confessions I can stand to make right now.

Stir Fried Cauliflower

Stir Fried Cauliflower

This recipe is one of my favorite things to do with the wily, sometimes elusive  cauliflower.

Stir-Fried Cauliflower Print This Recipe Print This Recipe
A Happy Acres Original

2 tbsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 medium cauliflower, broken into small florets
3 tbsp water

1. Mix first 4 ingredients in small bowl, set aside.

2. Heat oil over high heat in wok or skillet. Add cumin seeds, jalapeno and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute.

3. Add cauliflower, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium and stir fry 2-3 minutes.

4. Add spice mixture, stir-fry 1 minute.

5. Add water, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, until cauliflower is done.

Servings: 6

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 53 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.8g total fat, 0mgcholesterol, 224mg sodium, 329.4mg potassium, 6.5g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, 2.4gsugar, 2.2g protein, 37.1mg calcium, <1g saturated fat.

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6 Responses to Cauliflower and Other Follies

  1. easygardener says:

    Well at least you ended up with two cauliflowers. I have never been able to grow them. I gave up years ago – there is a limit to the number of times I can face a vegetable disaster.

  2. Janie says:

    WHahahahahahahaha! I am also a Master Gardener, in Texas, and I know exactly what you are talking about! People are always surprised that the jungle that is mine is …..well, MINE! Not neat, not tidy, but very exuberant!

    I just set out some cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower transplants today. The trick with cauliflower for me is timing the blanching. I have wound up with cauliflower that looked a lot like yours in the skillet- while it was still on the stalk, because I failed to blanch it soon enough. So, now I grow self blanching plants.

    Great post!

    • Villager says:

      Janie, I believe MGs are just like other gardeners: some are tidy, neat, well-manicured…and some of us are not! You must be in southern TX to be growing the cole crops all winter.

  3. Sue in Milan says:

    The recipe looks wonderful, and I’d love to try it. But I’ve no idea what jalapeno is. Don’t think we have it here. Can I replace it with anything else?
    Found you through Blotanical incidentally.

    • Villager says:

      Sue, any mildly hot green pepper would work in this recipe. Or even a green bell pepper would be fine. Thank you for visiting!

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