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