The Benefits Of Calabrese And How It Can Be Used In Your Garden
It's a wonder that cauliflower has found its way onto grocery shelves all across the country. I admit it; I had no idea what a cauliflower was before finding out that I had one growing in my own garden. The little heads on this delightful cauliflower variety also supply a wealth of other vegetables. This crisp, warm vegetable usually takes 70 days to mature and is low in fats.
Oh! And best of all, those cauliflower-like broccoli seeds are organic! So what is cauliflower exactly? The name may be derived from Latin, but the meaning is not related to the vegetable.
The edible part of this vegetable is the stem or florets, which are white, small, soft, and green. You can cut them into coins and fry in butter over a full sun or indoor fire. They are best eaten raw or sauteed. Try roasting them with butter and bacon. Other vegetables to try are collard greens, kale, rutabaga, and cabbage. Cauliflower is not the only winter crop offering broccoli seeds indoors.
If you want your broccoli plants to have a fuller head of leafy greens, there are several ways to encourage this development. One is to make sure you're planting in the right place. Calabrese typically grows best in full sun with well drained soils. If you live in a cold climate, you'll want to dig a hole twice the root width of the root system and place it in the corner. Calabrese will come up through the hole and bloom as long as there is adequate light.
In a warm climate, such as the Pacific Northwest, planting your broccoli or cauliflower heads in pots or hanging baskets with sprigs of wood around them will keep them from freezing. You can also plant them directly into your garden using a trellis system. This is particularly good for dwarf varieties that won't grow tall. Keep the leaves on the plants for about 2 weeks after planting if you want to get full benefits from the cabbage.
Harvest time is a problem for Calabrese because they don't have hard rhizomes like other brassica family members. Still, you can prune them often to improve the quality of the leaves. Keep the stems on the plants and you'll get more flowering heads. Harvest time is not a problem if you pick off the tops of the stalks.
Calabrese should be seeded each fall with either a commercial variety of bulgur or with half hard boil eggs. If you're not a fan of the smell of the boiling eggs, there are other ways to get your desired result. Calabrese varieties can be sown by hand and then potted, while the white heads can be dug up and sprayed with a garden hose. If you're plagued by bugs, a commercial insecticide is available. Most bugs are killed instantly once sprayed with the insecticide. Don't use it on green growing plants unless you are absolutely sure the grass will not be bothered by the spray.
The best time to harvest your cabbage is during the cold months when the soil is frozen. If you are able to, you should do it during the winter months when the soil is still warm. The bright green colors of your broccoli and cauliflower heads are hard to miss even when the ground is frosted. So what are you waiting for? Get out the pitchfork and start harvesting!
There are different types of Calabrese that have different shapes and colors to choose from. If you want to add some color and depth to your garden and are afraid of some of the white heads being so common, pick up some small heads on sale at your local nursery or grocery store. White heads are very common and are often among the most valued varieties because they are usually only harvested twice a year. On average, a Calabrese variety will produce from three to six new leaves per year.
For those who don't care too much for the taste of cauliflower but would still like to grow them, there are several hybrid types that are available in the vegetable section of your local grocery store or nursery. These varieties are a great option for those who want to have a crop of green veggie head on their plate but don't care too much for the taste. However, some varieties of Calabrese can be very bitter and hard to harvest. Some brassicas, for example, can last for up to ten years if properly preserved. If you want to preserve your Calabrese and avoid buying bitter seed capsules every summer, seal the leaves with wax paper and freeze them until fall.
To make the Calabrese taste its best, pickle or stew the cauliflowers at the peak of their flavor. If you decide to pickle your own cauliflowers, try making them a bit milder by leaving out the onion and adding some white vinegar. Another excellent way to pickle your cauliflowers is to add them to a simple brine solution made with one tablespoon each salt and water. Place the solution in a large bowl and allow your cauliflowers to soak for about five minutes. After soaking, remove them from the solution and place them in your food dehydrator or dehydrating machine.