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Vegetables - Cauliflower

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

" I own 40 acres in the suburbs of Chicago and value this land at $5,000 an acre," writes Sivert Howelesen of Cook county, Illinois. " The least profit these 40 acres have ever returned me was $3,000 annually. My principal farming has consisted in vegetables to supply the Chicago markets, mainly cauliflowers, and also spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, and other crops in season. I have been particularly successful with cauliflowers, and the following is the way I have managed :

"The seeds are sown in drills in the hothouse early in March. This hothouse is made into a cold frame after the plants have been out of the ground several days. They are transplanted in May to the fields, where they are placed 2 1/2 feet apart, the plants themselves being 18 inches apart in the row. When there is any danger of worms of any kind, I place the plants close together; because the loss will then be less in proportion to the acreage planted. When the first crop has been taken out of the hot-house, I immediately sow other seed, generally getting three or four crops each season to keep the market continuously supplied between July and the first frost.

" My soil is a black loam. I use no compost or commercial fertilizer. Twenty-five loads of manure an acre is about the usual amount applied. I get this manure from the city stables and the cost, when I figure the cost of team and man and the great distance from the sources of supply, amounts to $2 a load.

"I practice clean cultivation, mainly to keep the weeds down and yet aim to conserve the moisture; sometimes cultivating as many as three or four times a season, using a one-horse cultivator. In order to utilize the land to the utmost, I plant celery between the cauliflower rows, planting Just at the time when the cauliflowers are being set out.

"As soon as the heads commence to form I draw the outside leaves together and tie them to keep the sunlight off the heads. This should be done as soon as the head can be seen and I usually leave the leaves tied until the head is cut out. When treated in this way the heads will nearly always be snowy white. Otherwise they become brown, and, if kept long in the field unprotected, will become yellow and the heads will spread, losing their crispness and delicate flavor. Late in the season I find immature heads do best if put in cold frame or cold cellar to mature."

"I have grown cauliflower for three years," writes L. P. Fisher of New Hampshire. " I have tried the Snowball variety. Cauliflower will do well on ground that has been worked for a year or two. The soil should be rich and well pulverized. It has been my experience that cauliflower will not do well when transplanted, and for that reason it is best to sow as many hills as you wish to cultivate. When the plants are up they may be thinned to one in the hill.

" In regard to blanching: I go over my crop twice a week on the average, and tie the tops over the heads where there is danger of sunburn. In a very few days after this is done the heads are ready for market. I have never had any trouble with the heads rotting, caused by tying the tops over them.

As to cauliflower cultivation in Missouri, Prof. J. C. Whitten of the state experiment station, writes: "With the first warm days of March or early April, the plants should be transplanted to the open ground. The richest soil obtainable should be selected for the cauliflower plantation. Two or three hundred loads of old, decomposed manure will not make the land too rich. It is important, also, to secure a moist soil and yet one in which good drainage may be secured. A moderately heavy clay loam, sufficiently well drained so that water will not stand on it, is best.

"In transplanting they should be removed with as much of their roots remaining as possible and some of the outer leaves should be broken off to lessen the amount of evaporation before the root system is established. The plants are usually set 18 inches apart, in rows 3 feet apart, so as to admit of cultivation one way with a horse. Frequent and thorough cultivation is of the utmost importance.

"As warm weather approaches, plant lice often attack the cauliflower. These are best kept down by the use of tobacco. If tobacco stems from the cigar factory, or fine tobacco dust is scattered along the rows, in early spring, the plant lice are not likely to appear. It is always better to prevent their appearance by an early application of tobacco, than to attempt to get rid of them once they have become abundant. If lice appear on the plant, the best remedy is to dust them with fine tobacco.

"As the plants begin to head the outer leaves should be drawn up and tied so as to cover the head. This bleaches the head and prevents injury by the bright sunlight. In preparing for the market the outer leaves are usually trimmed to the rim of the head and the cauliflower packed in small boxes.


"Cauliflowers are also frequently forced in winter in greenhouses or in hotbeds. For forcing, the seeds may be planted at any time in winter as previously described. The plants should first be transplanted 4 inches apart in a hotbed. Frequently water and ventilate as much as is possible without injury from cold weather. At first they may be kept warm enough so the growth will be moderately rapid, but the amount of ventilation and exposure should be gradually increased so as to promote a strong growth and short stems.

" When the plants have reached as much development as they can make without crowding planted 4 inches apart, they should be permanently transplanted to the larger hotbed. In this permanent planting they should be set 18 inches apart each way, with about 8 inches of very rich soil above the hotbed compost. Lettuce or radishes can be grown as a catch crop between them. If radishes are grown, the seeds should be sown in drills 4 inches apart and in four or five weeks they will be ready to be removed for market."

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