Growing Purple Cauliflower

My friend Jim, may he rest in peace, wouldn’t eat homegrown broccoli. He’d once been served some that had little green caterpillars on it. He decided that store-bought broccoli was just fine, even though I explained that the reason for the lack of little caterpillars was not better growing technique, but pesticides.

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Me? I’d take the fuzzy guys instead of chemicals any day. And besides, if you soak your fresh-picked broccoli in salt water, the caterpillars will float to the top.

I’m still harvesting broccoli side shoots in my garden. After picking the big heads I left the plants and they produced smaller side shoots for a long time. Some varieties produce a lot of side shoots, others not so many.

This side shoot is bigger than I get most times.

But the most wonderful vegetables in the garden right now are my purple cauliflowers. I bought a 6-pack of them from Edgewater Farm in Plainfield, NH last spring on a whim.

I don’t usually grow cauliflowers because they don’t produce side shoots, they take the same amount of space as broccoli, and they can be fussy. If they get too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, they can “button”. That means instead of growing a nice head, they just produce a tiny thing, a button that is not worth eating.

My purple cauliflowers did well this year. I have this one still to pick.

This year my purple cauliflower did well, and 5 of 6 plants produced nice heads. Not huge, mind you, but I measured one last week: 6 inches across and 8 ounces on the scale. Veggies for two at dinner. But best of all, the plants produced their heads over a month or more – one much earlier than the others, 2 really taking their time. I still have one more pick.

So next spring if you want to try something new-to-you, get some purple cauliflower starts. They are gorgeous, and yummy!

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