Growing Calabrese From Seed
The Cauliflower is one of two truly wild perennial vegetables that are extremely versatile and can be grown almost anywhere in the United States. It is an annual herb that grows in the wild from the shores of Lake Erie to the eastern slopes of the Rockies. This plant is native to Europe but has now become a popular vegetable in gardens and backyards throughout the United States. The cauliflower is small (up to about 1" long) and comes with a bulbous, stiff center. The leaves are rounded and dark green, which some people confuse for oregano.
The Cauliflower is easy to grow but can be troublesome if you want to harvest it at the peak of the plant's development. Start planting your cauliflower garden with wide-spaced rows about a foot apart with occasional spacing between them to allow air to circulate. Seedling only need to be fed every other day with a balanced commercial fertilizer and watered carefully as they grow. Plant your cauliflower in potting mix designed specifically for broccoli so they will have the best chance of survival. The easiest way to harvest your broccoli is by boiling water over the top of the bedding leaves.
Plant young seedlings in well-drained, slightly acidic soil mixed with a commercial compost. Broccoli heads usually do not like to be planted in hard clay soils. They prefer well-drained soil with a neutral pH. Do not over-water seedlings. Water only when the soil surface feels dry.
When the broccoli sprouts reach about three to four inches tall, the large cabbage head variety will begin appearing. Sow your seedlings in peat moss tines about a foot deep and plant the broccoli heads loosely in the mixture. Allow about four inches of space between the sprouts. Sow the seedlings about six inches apart from each other, but not too close to avoid competing with each other for nutrients.
After planting, carefully remove any leaves on the plant. Do not allow the soil to become too wet. Instead, lightly mist the area. Avoid planting in heavy clay soil because it can make the broccoli plants more susceptible to disease. Once the soil is sufficiently moist, you are ready to sow your own Calabrese.
For optimal growing conditions, select the type of broccoli plant that has the longest and brightest growing season. If you're growing cauliflower or chives, select plants that produce their fruits during the most active part of the year. It's best to keep your seeds away from other weeds during the time of year you're preparing to harvest. When you do harvest, don't forget to dig the hole a little deeper than usual and add soil to compensate for any lost soil volume.
After the plants have been established, you're ready to get started on the fun part: harvesting. If you're planning to use a hand-held harvester, be sure to set the lever in the fully open position whenever you are ready to move the bed. You can gently push the bed out of the way and wade clear of the broccoli heads as they fall toward the ground. Make sure you take your time and don't hurry through the harvesting process.
Once the broccoli has fallen to the ground, carefully collect all the seeds. Sow the Calabrese in small groups in large quantities; if you have the time, collect all heads at once. Once you're done, allow your plants to grow until they bear fruit, which should happen by July. When the broccoli fruits start to appear, remove them from the garden and use them as a garnish for salads or served as a side dish.