A. A. CROZIER.
THE RURAL PUBLISHING COMPANY, TIMES BUILDING, NEW YORK.
Copyright, 1891, BY A. A. CROZIER. Ann Arbor, Mich.
"There has undoubtedly been more money made by the cultivation of the cauliflower per acre than by any other vegetable yet discovered."
ISAAC F. TILLINGHAST, Pennsylvania.
"There is no vegetable, the cultivation of which is more generally neglected than that of the cauliflower. This is not because it is not considered a valuable addition to any garden, but from a mistaken notion that it is a very difficult vegetable to raise."
H. M. STRINGFELLOW, Texas.
"I incline to think that there is a fortune in store for the energetic young man who finds a favorable locality for growing this vegetable near any one of our large cities and who makes a specialty of the work."
PROF. E. S. GOFF, Wisconsin.
PAGE. INTRODUCTION. 5 ORIGIN AND HISTORY. 9 THE CAULIFLOWER INDUSTRY.—In Europe. In the United States. Importation of Cauliflowers. 19 MANAGEMENT OF THE CROP.—Soil. Fertilizers. Planting. Cultivating. Harvesting. Keeping. Marketing. 25 THE EARLY CROP.—Caution against Planting it largely. Special Directions. Buttoning. 53 CAULIFLOWER REGIONS OF THE UNITED STATES.—Upper Atlantic Coast. Lake Region. Prairie Region. Cauliflowers in the South. The Pacific Coast. 61 INSECT AND FUNGUS ENEMIES.—Flea Beetle. Cut Worms. Cabbage Maggot. Cabbage Worm. Stem Rot. Damping Off. Black Leg. 93 CAULIFLOWER SEED.—Importance of Careful Selection. Where the Seed is Grown. Influence of Climate. American Grown Seed. 107 VARIETIES.—Descriptive Catalogue. Order of Earliness. Variety Tests. Best Varieties. 125 BROCCOLI.—Differences between Broccoli and Cauliflower. Cultivation, Use, and Varieties of Broccoli. 189 COOKING CAULIFLOWER.—Digestibility. Nutritive Value. Chemical Composition. Receipts. 195 RECAPITULATION. 221 GLOSSARY. 223 REFERENCES. 226
The cauliflower is one of the minor vegetables which is now attracting more than ordinary attention in this country, and being grown with remarkable success and profit in a few localities which have been found to be particularly adapted to it. With most of our gardeners, however, it is still considered a very uncertain and unprofitable crop. This is due not only to the peculiar requirements of the cauliflower as to soil and climate, but also to the want of familiarity on the part of most American gardeners with modern varieties and with methods of cultivation adapted to our climate.
For a number of years, while engaged in market gardening and fruit growing in Western Michigan, the writer made a specialty of raising cauliflowers for the Grand Rapids and Chicago markets, planting from three to five acres a year. During this time most of the varieties offered by American seedsmen were tested, and the best methods of cultivation sought. On the whole, the cauliflower crop was found more profitable than any other, with the possible exception of peaches. There were partial failures, but these were due to causes which might have been foreseen and prevented. The experience gained at that time, and subsequent observation, have convinced the author that there are many parts of the country in which the climate and soil are adapted to this vegetable, but where its cultivation is yet practically unknown. The requirements for success with cauliflower will be found to be simple but imperative. A few direct experiments may be needed after one has gained the general information herein set forth, to enable one to determine whether it is best to continue or abandon its cultivation in his own locality.
I have endeavored to treat the subject in a manner adapted to the diversity of conditions found within the limits of the United States. With no vegetable is it more important to have fixed rules for one's guidance than with the cauliflower; but these rules must of necessity be of the most restricted application; in fact, they require to be adjusted to almost each individual case. So, while I have not omitted to give minute, practical directions where they seemed necessary, I have endeavored to call attention to the circumstances under which they are to be employed, and must here caution the grower against following them too implicitly under different circumstances. This remark applies particularly to the selection of varieties and the dates of planting.
Under the head of "Management of the Crop" will be found the most important information of general application, while in the chapter on "Cauliflower Regions" are given numerous records of experience from growers in all parts of the country, which will be found of special value for each locality.
Those who desire direct information on particular points will consult the index and turn at once to the paragraphs which treat of soil, culture, enemies, marketing, best varieties, etc. It is unfortunate that confusion exists in regard to some of the varieties, but it seemed best to make the list as complete as possible, even at the risk of introducing a few errors. The confusion (which is more apparent than real), arises, in part, from seeds of certain varieties having been sold at times for those of others, and in part from the extreme liability of the varieties of the cauliflower to deteriorate or change. Errors from both these sources, when reduced to a minimum by the accumulation of evidence, reveal the fact that there are varieties and groups of varieties which have acquired well defined characters, and that the differences between the varieties are increasing rather than otherwise as time goes on. The selection of varieties for planting is a matter to be determined largely by the locality where they are to be grown. The differences between them lie mainly in their adaptation to particular purposes. There are almost none but what are good somewhere.
I cannot omit to emphasize here the fact that the fall crop should be mainly relied upon in this country. It is a waste of time to attempt to have cauliflowers head in our hot summer months, and until our markets are better supplied than they now are with this vegetable, it will not often pay to do much with the spring crop. The time may come when, as in England, we may expect to have cauliflower and broccoli the year round, but it has not come yet.
The chapter on cooking cauliflower should not be overlooked. One reason why there is such a limited demand for this vegetable in this country is that so few here know how to cook it. The methods of cooking it are simple enough, but there are many persons who always hesitate to try anything new, and as cauliflowers do not appear regularly in the market these people never learn how to use them.
Those interested in extending the market for this vegetable will do well to devise special means for introducing it into families not familiar with it. The writer found that foreigners who had been accustomed to the use of cauliflower in the "Old Country" were his best customers.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY.
On the sea-coasts of Great Britain and other countries of western Europe, from Norway around to the northern shores of the Mediterranean (where it is chiefly at home) grows a small biennial plant, looking somewhat like a mustard or half-grown cabbage. This is the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea, from which our cultivated cabbages originated. It is entirely destitute of a head, but has rather succulent stems and leaves, and has been used more or less for food from the earliest historic times. The cultivated plants which most resemble this wild species, are our different sorts of kale. In fact this wild plant is the original, not only of our headed cabbage in its different varieties, but also of all forms of kale, the kohl-rabi, brussels-sprouts, broccolis and cauliflowers. No more wonderful example than this exists of the changes produced in a wild plant by cultivation. Just when the improvement of the wild cabbage began is unknown, probably at least 4000 years ago. Of the cultivated forms of this species Theophrastus distinguished three, Pliny, six; Tournefort, twenty; and De Candolle, in 1821, more than thirty. For a long time this plant was used for food in a slightly improved state before heads of any kind were developed. Sturtevant, quotes Oliver de Serres, as saying that, "White cabbages came from the north, and the art of making them head was unknown in the time of Charlemagne." He adds that the first unmistakable reference to our headed cabbage that he finds is by Rullius, who in 1536 mentions globular heads, a foot and a half in diameter. It was probably about this time that the cauliflower, and several other forms of the species made their appearance. There is difference of opinion as to whether our cauliflowers or the broccolis were first to originate. London believed that the broccolis, which Miller says first came to England from Italy in 1719, were derived from the cauliflower. Phillips, in his "History of Cultivated Vegetables," said, in 1822, that the broccoli appears to be an accidental mixture of the common cabbage and the cauliflower, but of this he gives no proof.
Sturtevant says: "It is certainly very curious that the early botanists did not describe or figure the broccoli. The omission is only explainable on the supposition that it was confounded with the cauliflower, just as Linnaeus brought the cauliflower and the broccoli into one botanical variety." When broccolis came to England from Italy, they were at first known under the names "sprout-cauliflower," or "Italian asparagus." This, however, is not sufficient reason for believing that the broccolis are derived from the cauliflowers, as the word broccoli was, and still is, applied in Italy to the tender shoots of various kinds of cabbages and turnips.
Some recent authorities have believed, since the broccoli is coarser than the cauliflower, more variable in character, more robust in habit, and requires a longer season, that it is the original form, of which the cauliflower is only an improvement. Thus, Vilmorin says: "The sprouting or asparagus broccoli represents the first form exhibited by the new vegetable when it ceased to be the earliest cabbage, and was grown with an especial view to its shoots; after this, by continued selection and successive improvements, varieties were obtained which produced a compact white head, and some of these varieties were still further improved into kinds which are sufficiently early to commence and complete their entire growth in the course of the same year; these last named kinds are now known by the name of cauliflowers."
At the Cirencester Agricultural College, England, about 1860, broccolis were produced, with other variables, directly from seeds of the wild cabbage. These, and other considerations, make it seem doubtful that our broccolis have originated from our cauliflowers. Whatever the original form of the cauliflower may have been, it seems more probable that the broccolis now grown had a separate origin, either from the wild state or from some form of kale. Nearly all our present varieties of broccoli originated in England from a few sorts introduced from Italy.
Cauliflowers, in name at least, are older than the broccolis, and were brought to a high state of development and widely distributed before the latter are mentioned in history. They were grown in the Mediterranean region long before they became known in other parts of Europe.
Sturtevant finds no mention of the cauliflower or broccoli in ancient authors, the only indication of the kind being the use of the word cyma by Pliny for a form of the cabbage tribe, which he thinks may have been the broccoli. Heuze states that three varieties of cauliflower were known in Spain in the twelfth century. In 1565 the cauliflower is reported as being extensively grown in Hayti in the New World.
In 1573-5, Rauwolf, while traveling in the East, found the cauliflower cultivated at Aleppo, in Turkey. It seems to have been introduced into England from the Island of Cyprus, and it is mentioned by Lyte, in 1586, under the name of "Cyprus coleworts."
Alpinus, in his work on the "Plants of Egypt," published in 1591, states that the only plants of the cabbage tribe which he saw in that country were the cauliflower and kohl-rabi. Cauliflower was also well known in Greece at an early day.
Gerard published a figure of it in England in 1597. In 1612 it is reported as being cultivated in France, and in 1619 as being sold in the London market. In 1694 Pompes, a French author, is quoted as saying that, "It comes to us in Paris by way of Marseilles from the Isle of Cyprus, which is the only place I know of where it seeds."
From this time on, its cultivation gradually extended throughout Europe. In England, especially, the cauliflower, as well as the broccoli, became a popular garden vegetable. Philip Miller, in his "Gardener's Dictionary," published in 1741, gives a long description of the method of growing this vegetable, though mentioning but one variety, while several varieties of broccoli are described. He says, however, that "cauliflowers have of late years been so far improved in England as to far exceed in goodness and magnitude what are produced in most parts of Europe." Prior to the French Revolution, (which began in 1778) cauliflower had, in fact, come to be largely exported from England into Holland, Germany and France; but soon after this it came to be more generally grown in those countries and was no longer imported, though English seed was still used.
The numerous varieties of cauliflower now cultivated are of comparatively recent origin. Although some of the earliest writers on this vegetable mention two or more varieties, these were in some cases merely different crops produced by sowing the seed at different periods. In 1796, Marshall, in his English work on gardening, says that "cauliflower is sometimes distinguished into an early and late sort; though in fact there is no difference, only as the seed of that called 'early' is saved from the foremost plants." Phillips, in 1822, said: "Our gardeners furnish us with an early and a late variety, both of which are much esteemed."
In 1831, Don, of England, in his work on botany and gardening ("History of Dichlamydeous Plants") describes fifteen varieties of broccoli and three of cauliflower. The latter were known as Early, Later or Large, and Red, the last being the most hardy. These three kinds differed but little in general character, and were all inclined to sport into inferior varieties.
In 1832 there was still a discussion in England as to whether the early and late cauliflowers were really distinct, or differed only in time of sowing.
John Rogers, in his "Vegetable Cultivator" (London, 1843), said: "There are two varieties of the cauliflower, the early and the late, which are alike in their growth and size, only that the early kind, as the name implies, comes in about a week before the other, provided the true sort has been obtained. There is, however, no certainty of knowing this, unless by sowing the seed from the earliest sorts, as is the practice of the London kitchen gardeners. The early variety was grown for a number of years in the grounds called the Meat-house Gardens, at Millbank, near Chelsea, and was of a superior quality, and generally the first at market. The late variety is supposed to have originated from a stock for many years cultivated on a piece of ground called the Jamaica level, near Deptford, and which produced uncommonly fine heads, but later than those at Millbank. Both soils are nearly similar, being a deep rich loam, on a moist subsoil, and continually enriched with dung. Both the varieties are of a delicate nature, being generally too tender to resist the cold of the winter season without the occasional aid of glasses or other means; and the sight of many acres overspread with such glasses in the vicinity of London gives a stranger a forcible idea of the riches and luxury of the capital."
In France, in 1824, three varieties, differing mainly in earliness, were recognized, le dur, le demi-dur and le tendre. These names are still applied to well known French sorts.
Victor Paquet, in his Plantes Potagers, published at Paris in 1846, says: "The greater number of varieties of cauliflower are white, but some are green or reddish. They are cooked in water, and dressed with oil or white sauce. We cultivate two distinct varieties, tendre and demi-dur. The sub-varieties gros and petit Solomon are sorts of the tendre."
Thus we see that early in the present century there were sorts differing at least in time of maturity which had originated by selection; and, although history does not show it, we must infer that even then there were distinct differences in the cauliflowers cultivated in different parts of Europe. From this time on cauliflowers from various localities were brought more into public notice and greater efforts were made toward their improvement.
In 1845, C. M. Hovey, of Boston, said, that "the varieties of cauliflower have been greatly improved within a few years, and now not less than a dozen kinds are found in the catalogues." The most noted of those mentioned by him are Walcheren and Large Asiatic—varieties still in cultivation. Burr described ten sorts in 1863, and Vilmorin sixteen sorts in 1883. There are recorded in the present work the names of one hundred and forty varieties besides synonyms. Some of these varieties are no longer cultivated, and a few are too near other sorts to be considered worthy of a separate name; so that of the cauliflowers proper there may be said to be now in cultivation about one hundred distinct varieties.
THE CAULIFLOWER INDUSTRY.
In the United States, as already stated, the cauliflower industry is but little developed. This vegetable receives, for example, far less attention than is given to celery, though it is more easily grown. One may look over the recent files of some of our agricultural and horticultural papers for several years together and not find the cauliflower mentioned. In fact, more general attention was given the cauliflower in this country forty years ago than to-day. The disappointments of those who attempted to grow cauliflower at an early day, expecting to grow it, as in Europe, with as little trouble as cabbage, have led to an almost universal belief that the cauliflower is peculiarly unreliable in the United States. This, for a large portion of the country, is true; but it is beginning to be known that there are localities where, with proper management, it is almost as safe as any crop.
It is by no means true that in Europe the cauliflower is everywhere grown with success. There are comparatively small areas, even in the most favorable portions of that continent, where it can be profitably grown. Although the climate of Europe, as a whole, is better for this vegetable than that of the United States, the greater success with the cauliflower there is due largely to the greater care exercised in choosing proper soil, in fertilization, and in irrigation. The area of cauliflower growing has largely increased in Europe within the past few years. In the vicinity of Angiers, France, the growing of cauliflower for market began about 1880. In a short time it reached an extent of several thousand hectares (a hectare is two and one-half acres). There is found in this region a loamy soil, such as is especially suitable for this vegetable. The land is thrown up into beds twenty-five or thirty feet wide, with ditches between for irrigation. The rows are placed two and one-half feet apart, and the plants one and one-half feet apart in the rows. On the approach of winter the plants which are still unheaded are ridged up with earth for protection in the same manner as celery. The crop fails from too cold or too wet weather, about one year in five. The heads are mostly sent to Paris, and sell there at from forty cents to $1 per dozen. Even at these rates the crop is a profitable one, often bringing $300 per acre after paying the cost of marketing. Land is worth from $24 to $40 per acre. For three or four weeks in spring there are sent from Angiers to Paris, on an average, forty car-loads per day. In the immediate vicinity of Paris large quantities of cauliflower are grown for market.
In some parts of Germany the cauliflower is a very popular crop. Around Erfurt, which is nearly in the center of the empire, greater care is taken with its cultivation than probably anywhere else in the world, and large quantities are grown for seed. The late James Vick has told (Report Mich. Pom. Soc., 1874, p. 206,) how the low swampy land around Erfurt is thrown up into wide beds with ditches between, from which, every dry day, the water is dipped upon the plants. In Austria, also, cauliflower is a well-known vegetable, and several valuable varieties have originated in that country. Few seedsmen offer a more complete list of varieties than those of Vienna. In Italy the cauliflower has long been known, and in some places is a staple food of the poorer classes. Most of our standard late varieties are of Italian origin.
In Holland, cauliflowers are grown not only for home use and for seed, but also for the early London market. Around London the cauliflower has been extensively grown for a longer time than anywhere else, and it is there regarded as one of the most important garden crops. A recent English writer says: "With the exception of the potato, I question whether there is another vegetable to be compared with the cauliflower for general usefulness." Hundreds of acres are devoted to it near London, a large portion being under glass for the early crop. Formerly the cauliflower crop was all cut and sent to market, with the exception of a small portion saved for seed; but of late, extensive fields are purchased entire by Crosse and Blackwell for pickling purposes.
In the United States there are a few points where the growing of cauliflower for market is assuming considerable importance. On Long Island, in 1879, the crop was estimated by Oemler at 100,000 pounds, besides what was used for pickling. In 1885 Brill estimated the total crop of Suffolk County at about 125,000 barrels. In 1889, the value of the crop sold from Suffolk County was estimated at $200,000, nine-tenths of all the cauliflowers sent to the New York market being grown in that county. At Farmingdale and Central Park, in 1888, two pickle factories used five hundred barrels of cauliflowers, besides the usual proportion of other vegetables. Much of the crop from Long Island is now sent to markets beyond New York. Philadelphia receives but little good cauliflower except that which comes from Long Island. The same is true of the city of Washington. The receipts in the latter city from Long Island for the three fall months of 1890 were about 20,000 barrels.
The Chicago market is seldom fully supplied with cauliflowers and the price there averages fully as good as anywhere in the country. Considerable amounts are grown near the city, and small quantities are shipped in from Michigan, Wisconsin, Central Illinois, and even from California. One pickle factory at Crystal Lake, near Chicago, contracted, in 1874, for 16 acres of cauliflowers, besides other produce. The pickle factories always furnish a market for any surplus when the price is low, or the heads have become disfigured in any way. In fact, the supply of home grown cauliflowers is always insufficient for pickling purposes, and large amounts have to be annually imported, notwithstanding the tariff, which, formerly ten per cent., ad valorum, is now forty-five per cent. Imported cauliflowers are brought mainly from Germany and Holland, and come packed in brine in 60 gallon casks. Large quantities of mixed pickles containing cauliflower are also imported.
MANAGEMENT OF THE CROP.
Almost any soil will do for the cauliflower, providing it is moist and fertile. The requirements of this vegetable as to soil are practically the same as those for the cabbage, except, that as the cauliflower will stand less drouth, it should generally have a heavier and richer soil, and rather more room. A soil which produces cabbages with large and rather soft heads is likely to be good for cauliflowers; that is, it contains more vegetable matter than the right amount for producing hard heads of cabbage. Muck will answer for cauliflowers if it is not too wet or too dry; it should like any other soil be treated to a good coat of barn-yard manure—horse manure being preferable on such land, as it promotes fermentation. Small quantities of lime may also be applied for the same reason.
The best soil is generally a strong sandy loam. Light sand or gravel is the poorest; and unless made very rich and artificially watered, it is useless to attempt to grow cauliflowers on such a soil in ordinary seasons. Heavy clay is less suitable for cauliflower than for cabbage, chiefly because on such a soil the plants are apt to be small and late. In a warm climate a heavier soil is required than in a cool one. The ground should, if possible, be fresh sod-land (preferably pasture) or at most one year removed from the sod. It is unsafe to plant cauliflowers after cauliflowers, or any other plant of the cabbage tribe, though it is sometimes successfully done. Newly cleared land, or land fresh from the sod, is even more desirable for cauliflowers than for cabbages. On new land the crop is not only less subject to disease and the attacks of insects, but its growth is likely to be more satisfactory, even without manure, or with only a moderate amount, than it is on old land, however well manured.
The cauliflower is a gross feeder, and land intended for this crop can hardly be made too rich. Barn-yard manure is usually employed, and there is nothing better for general use. Commercial fertilizers—potash, soda and phosphates—are also good, especially to promote heading. The wild plant from which the cauliflower is derived being a native of the sea-shore, common salt seems particularly adapted to it. Kelp, or sea-weed, is used with advantage where it can be obtained.
If barn-yard manure is not too coarse, plowing it under in moderate amount will, in addition to its fertilizing effect, help to keep the land moist. Where the cabbage maggot is troublesome the use of fresh stable manure is thought to promote the attack of that insect, and therefore only well rotted manure is recommended. Of course a larger amount of manure may be safely applied if it is well rotted than if it is coarse and strawy. Liquid manure is used by many growers, being applied a few weeks before planting, and from time to time during the season. Water-closet contents, diluted or composted, and applied either in the liquid or powdered form, is one of the best of fertilizers for the cauliflower, but it should not be used too freely, or too late in the season. All coarse or concentrated fertilizers should be applied at least two weeks before the time for transplanting, and such as are applied on the surface should be well mixed with the soil.
SOWING THE SEED.
The preparation of the seed-bed will vary according to circumstances. I formerly grew the plants for the fall crop in beds elevated two or three feet above the ground, in order to escape the flea beetle, but in later years I have grown a portion of the plants in the open ground. This method requires less care, and is now usually practiced by large growers, though it sometimes fails, for the reason stated. Remedies for the flea beetle will be found in another chapter. The soil in which the plants are to be grown should be rich and fine, rather light, and improved, if necessary, with a little of the finest old rotted manure. A small amount of lime or ashes raked into the soil is a benefit, and is thought to prevent the attack of the cabbage maggot, though its value, if any, for this purpose, is slight. An old brush-heap burnt off makes a favorite place for sowing cauliflower and cabbage seed, but it is seldom that market gardeners care to go out of their way to get such a place. The large cauliflower growers of Long Island usually sow the seed in drills across one end of the field in which the crop is to be grown, raking into the soil before sowing, a moderate dressing of some commercial fertilizer.
It is often recommended to sow the seed on the north side of a fence, or in some other partially shaded place. I have never seen any necessity for this, and once spoiled a quantity of plants by growing them in the partial shade of some large trees. At the South, as elsewhere stated, it is sometimes necessary to give the young plants shade during the middle of the day if they are started in the summer months.
The seed should always be sown thinly, not only because it is expensive and none should be wasted, but in order that all may have room to develop into healthy and stocky plants. If the weather is at all dry it is well to lay boards, or some other covering, over the seed-bed until the plants begin to come up. This will insure speedy and uniform germination. If this is done the seed may be sown very shallow; otherwise it should be sown at least half an inch deep (or even deeper if the soil is light) and the soil pressed firm after sowing.
Transplanting the young plants in the seed-bed will render them stocky and vigorous, and should always be practiced with the early crop, but if the seed is sown sufficiently thin it is unnecessary with out-door plants intended for the late crop. Some growers, including Mr. Gregory of Massachusetts, practice sowing the seed in hills in the open ground where the plants are to remain. Several seeds are placed in a hill to insure against loss. This method, however, will seldom be found desirable.
To the above may be added the following excellent directions given by Mr. Francis Brill, of Riverhead, Long Island, in his pamphlet on the cauliflower: "Occasionally, by reason of drouth, and frequently by reason of the ravages of insects, great difficulty has been experienced in growing plants in spring and early summer, which seldom occurs in the fall—at which time, however, the same precautions may be used. Time was when we could circumvent the flea and louse on young plants by the use of lime, tobacco, ashes, soot, etc., but of late years they seem to have been so very abundant, and so materially aided in their work of destruction by the black grub below and the green grub above ground, that many complete failures have occurred in endeavors to grow plants. To avoid this I recommend that the ground intended for plants be plowed or spaded in the fall, and if stable manure is to be used, let it be well rotted and turned under at this time, and again work the soil early in the spring, at this time turning under a good dressing of potash salts; keep the ground free from weeds by occasional stirring until the time for sowing the seed, then lay out a bed six feet wide, and as long as you please; make the surface smooth, and enclose it with common boards ten or twelve inches in width set edgewise perpendicularly, one-half their width under ground and held in place by stakes driven at the joints and centres. Within this frame, beginning at either end, dig and thoroughly pulverize the soil by means of a spading fork, potato fork, or similar implement, watching closely for any grub worms which may not have been eradicated by the previous workings and which we now propose to keep out by means of the partially sunken boards.
"Fertilizers may, at this time, be applied and forked under or raked in, using judgment as to method and quantity, which must be determined by the previous condition of the soil and the strength of the material used, remembering that it is not well to have any chemicals in too close proximity to the tender rootlets of the young plants; and while poor soil is no place in which to grow healthy plants, yet they should not be over stimulated, but the ground must be in proper condition to keep up a vigorous and healthy growth. Let this digging be done in the latter part of the afternoon when the sun has spent its force and the soil will not dry out too quickly; rake the bed as you go, and sow the seed while the surface soil is fresh and moist, using a ten-inch board as long as your bed is wide, which place five or six inches from the end or head of the frame, crosswise, and with a blunt stick, say three-fourths of an inch in diameter, draw a mark not more than one-half an inch deep along each edge of the board; sow the seed thinly in these marks, using the thumb and finger to guide it; then turning the board twice, sow two more rows, and so proceed until you have sown several rows, say 12 to 20, when they must be covered, using the back of a spade, drawing it with some pressure half way from each side of the bed. A very important part of this operation which must not be overlooked is to get the seed in and covered while the ground is fresh and damp; therefore complete the work in sections. At the distance given the hoe can be used and the soil stirred between the rows, which is quite essential to a proper growth of the plants, as well as necessary to keep down the weeds.
"The sowing completed, the bed may be covered with old bags or cloth to retain the moisture, which, however, must be removed upon the first signs of the seed germinating; but what is better still, a shade of muslin can be used, supported by the upper edges of the frame and narrow strips laid across, which can remain until the plants are well above ground, when it should be removed, the plants sprinkled with tobacco dust, air slacked lime, ashes or common plaster, and a covering of mosquito netting be substituted for the muslin, which will admit light, air and sunshine, yet be a partial shade, and will help to protect the plants from insects. This cover may be removed during rainy weather, and, if you please, every night to give the plants the benefit of the dew.
"I have decided objections to artificial watering of seed-beds, especially when the seed is first sown or in the early stages of growth of the plants, and this may generally be avoided by following the directions just given; but when circumstances may seem to demand otherwise, let the bed be prepared and in the afternoon thoroughly saturated, and toward evening the seed may be sown and covered as above described, but never water the bed after the seed has been sown until the plants are well up, for this has a tendency to pack the surface and cause it to bake and prevent proper germinating of the seed. After the plants are fairly above ground, light waterings at evening may be given, but must be avoided if possible.
"I have not given these precautions for sowing seed in September for wintering over, for the reason that at that season of the year we are comparatively free from insects and drouths."
WHEN TO SOW.
The time for sowing will depend of course on the locality and variety. At the North, half early varieties, intended for the fall crop, are usually sown and set out about the same time as late cabbage. In Western Michigan, in latitude 43 deg., I have found that Early Paris sown about May 12, and set out about the 20th of June, begins to head in September, and forms its main crop in October, about the time desired. In the latitude of New York City the time for setting out the main crop is from June 20 to the 1st of August. Plants set as late as the 1st of August are intended to head just before winter, and must be of the earliest varieties. The large late varieties, like Autumn Giant, if used at all, must be started early and set out not later than the first of June, as they require the entire season.
Several kinds are often sown to form a succession, but where one has tested a variety and found it adapted to his needs, it is often quite as well to rely upon it almost entirely, and make two or three sowings for a succession if desired. Even a single sowing, well timed, will generally furnish cuttings through the most favorable part of the season. If the seed is of the best quality, and the plants are of uniform size, and all set at the same time, neither too early nor too late, on soil of uniform character, they will in a good season form most of their heads within a short space of time, sometimes within a week; but generally in a given sowing, a few heads will form very early, then the bulk of the crop will come on during three or four weeks, while the remainder will hang on until late, perhaps until winter. No other crop is so much affected in time of maturity by the character of the season as the cauliflower, and even the most experienced growers sometimes fail in getting them to head at the time desired.
The time for starting the plants for the early crop in the North is in February, and the method is described in full in another chapter. They should be set out, as stated, as soon as heavy freezing is past, say about the middle of April. The most unfavorable time of any, and yet the time when the inexperienced are most likely to set them, is about the middle of May, for early varieties set then usually head in August when it is seldom that heads can be obtained of good quality.
PREPARING THE GROUND.
Land intended for cauliflowers should be plowed deeply, as the cauliflower is a deep feeder and delights in a rich, cool subsoil; in fact, with no other plant of the cabbage family is a deep soil so important. The manure, of whatever kind, should be mainly spread upon the ground and plowed under, a smaller amount, in a finely divided state, being harrowed in upon the surface. The plowing should be done at least a month before the plants are to be set, and the land kept well harrowed or cultivated until that time in order to retain the moisture in the soil, and put it in the best condition for the growth of the plants.
SETTING THE PLANTS.
When the time comes for setting the plants it is a good plan to go over the surface with a planker in order to smooth it off, so the marking can be nicely done. This also packs the ground somewhat, so that the plants can be set more firmly. The land may be then marked out, crosswise first, three feet apart, then lengthwise three feet apart for Dwarf Erfurt and all small growing kinds, and four feet apart for Algiers and other large varieties. These are suitable distances for the late crop in ordinary cases, but where land is cheap, and little manure used, except sod turned under, four by four feet is none too much room for the large varieties. The early crop, on the other hand, which is always heavily manured, is sometimes set with the rows as close as two feet apart, and the plants twenty inches apart in the rows. The small size of the heads resulting from close planting is no actual loss, for small heads, if of good quality, are more popular than large ones, and bring a higher price in proportion to their size. The greatest danger from too close setting of the main crop is that the plants may fail to head at all. It is for this reason that cauliflowers are usually set farther apart than cabbages.
The best time to set the plants is just before or after a rain, but they may be set at any time if the soil has been kept damp by frequent cultivation. In dry, clear weather the planting should be done only toward the close of the day. If it should be necessary to apply water at the time of setting, it should be thoroughly done, not less than a quart being placed in each hole which is to receive a plant. Water should never be applied after the plant is set unless loose earth is afterwards thrown over the place, for the compact surface left after the water has been absorbed dries out more rapidly than before.
The plants to be set should not be too large or they will be liable to button, especially if the conditions are in any way unfavorable for growth. If large plants must be used extra pains should be taken in setting, in order that there may be as little check in their growth as possible. With cauliflowers, as with cabbages, large plants are the easiest to make live, but, for the reason stated, it is less desirable to use them.
Setting the plants in shallow trenches, after the manner of celery, is sometimes practised in garden culture. This places the roots where the soil is cool and moist and enables the plants to be watered to good advantage. This method is mainly used in early spring planting, when, besides its convenience in irrigation, it also serves to protect the plants from cold winds. Planting between ridges, as elsewhere described, serves the same purpose of protection. In either case the surface is gradually brought to a level as the plants are cultivated.
In cultivation everything depends on keeping up a steady, vigorous growth, for if the plants are checked in their growth, they are liable either to form small heads prematurely, or to continue their growth so late as to fail to head at all. Level cultivation is usually practiced, the same as in ordinary field crops. Drawing the earth to the stems, as sometimes recommended and practiced abroad, is unnecessary, though with tall growing varieties it serves a useful purpose in preventing the plants being blown over by the wind. Cultivation should continue until the leaves are so large that they are liable to be broken off, or until the plants are nearly ready to head. The application of a mulch of manure or litter at the time cultivation ceases, is an excellent practice, though seldom resorted to. It is important that deep cultivation should cease at the right time, even if the hoe has to be used afterward. The crop may be seriously injured, or at least delayed, by cultivation after the plants begin to head. At this time the ground should be undisturbed so that the roots may occupy the entire soil. Dry weather, and the compact nature of the soil after cultivation ceases, check the growth of the plants, and promote the formation of heads, providing the plants have attained a proper age and size. The influence of a firm soil in promoting heading is also seen in the success with which cauliflowers can frequently be grown after peas or other early crops. In autumn the first sharp frosts appear to be particularly efficacious in starting the plants to heading.
After heading has commenced is the time when irrigation is most needed. An abundance of water at this time will add greatly, both to the quantity and quality of the product, particularly if some fertilizer is added at the same time. Irrigation is not often practiced in this country, except in the arid districts of the West, and occasionally, with the early crop, near a few of our large cities. In Europe, where labor is cheap, it is often resorted to, even where the water has to be carried by hand. Early in the season, if irrigation is needed, once a week is frequent enough to apply the water, but while the plants are heading it may be applied with advantage every day if the weather is dry.
BLANCHING THE HEADS.
The value of cauliflowers for use or market depends almost entirely on their being white and tender. To have them remain in this condition until fully matured, they must be protected from the sun. Heads which are left exposed become yellow in color, or even brownish purple if the sun is very hot. Such heads also acquire a strong, disagreeable flavor.
There are various ways of covering the heads, but it is nearly always done with the leaves of the plant. Early in the season, when the weather is dry and warm, the work may be done during the heat of the day by lapping the leaves, one after another, over the head until it is sufficiently covered, tucking the last leaf under to hold all in place. Or the leaves may be fastened with a butcher's skewer, or any sharp stick. In Florida, orange thorns are employed for this purpose. Care must be taken not to confine the heads too closely, or they will grow out of shape, besides being liable to heat and become spotted. Later in the season, when the weather is cool and damp, the leaves will be too stiff to be bent down, and the head must then be protected either by placing over it leaves broken from the outer part of the plant, or from stumps from which the heads have already been cut, or by tying the leaves together above the head. The latter is the usual method, rye straw or bast matting being generally used for the purpose. Merely breaking down the inner leaves upon the head is unsatisfactory, as the growth, both of the leaves and the head, soon causes the head to become exposed.
The artificial blanching of the head is most important early in the season, while the sun is hot, and the field should then be gone over as often as every other day for this purpose, taking two rows at a time. Later in the season, during damp, cloudy weather, heads will sometimes reach full size and still be of good color though entirely exposed. It is unsafe to leave them in this way, however, as a little change in color seriously affects their market value. Covering the heads appears also to cause them to grow larger and remain solid longer than they otherwise would, particularly early in the season.
PROTECTING FROM FROST.
Another object, late in the season, in covering the heads, is to protect them from frost. A frosted cauliflower is practically worthless for market, as it is nearly certain to turn black on the surface after one or two days' exposure. Freezing, in fact, is one of the most frequent sources of loss on cauliflowers late in the season, and as this is the most favorable time of the year for them to head, it is necessary to take particular care to guard against loss from this cause. We frequently have a few hard frosts early in October, which spoil such heads as are nearly mature, unless they have been protected. After this there may be a month or more of good weather, during which the bulk of the crop may come to maturity. The heads are protected from frost in the same manner as from the sun, but it is best not to have the leaves lie directly on the head. Protection is particularly needed as the heads approach maturity, as they are then more easily injured than while small. Heads which are well covered will usually stand eight or ten degrees of frost without injury, depending on the amount of cloudiness and moisture present. In cool, moist, cloudy weather, frosted heads will sometimes recover and show no injury. It is even possible for heads to become frozen solid and come out in good condition, but this rarely occurs, and requires that the thawing take place in the most favorable manner possible. Cutting the frozen heads with their leaves, throwing them in shallow heaps upon the ground, and covering with straw, will sometimes bring them out in good condition; also throwing them into water but little above the freezing point. The safest way, however, if possible, is to cook the heads at once, putting the frozen heads directly into boiling water. Treated in this manner they exhibit little or no effect of the freezing.
The safest way, in case heavy freezing is apprehended, is to cut and remove to a place of safety all heads which have attained half their size or more.
CUTTING THE HEADS.
The frequency of cutting will depend on the season of the year. In summer, the heads will remain at the proper stage for cutting no more than a day or two, while late in autumn they may often be left a week before becoming overgrown.
Frequent cutting is at all times desirable, however, as it is best to let the heads get as large as they will before becoming loose and warty. The gain in size not only increases their selling price, but the flavor also appears to improve as the heads approach maturity. Immature heads, though mild and tender, have less flavor than those which are full grown. It is better, however, to cut a head too soon than to leave it too long, for a small solid head will sell for more than a large loose one. To judge when a head has reached full size requires some experience. The size of course, will depend on that of the plant, but its size in proportion to that of the plant is perhaps the most common point by which one judges when it is ready to cut. The head, when it approaches maturity, rises within the leaves and bulges the latter outward, so that one can often tell at some distance which heads are about ready. The surface of the head, as it approaches maturity loses its polished appearance and becomes more distinctly grained. This change, if it does not go too far, does not detract from its appearance and value. To examine a head, do not untie the top, but part the leaves at the side. If there are signs of cracking or breaking it is ready to cut. The heads should be cut with about an inch of stalk and two or three full circles of leaves. A long thin-bladed knife is best to cut with.
The best time of the day in which to cut the heads, if for home use, or a near market, is in the morning while the dew is on, as they will then remain longer in a fresh state than if cut latter in the day. If to pack for a distant market, the heads will carry and keep better if cut when dry, but on a cool day or toward evening.
The heads must be handled with care to prevent the "flower" becoming bruised or soiled in any way. A bruise will turn black in a short time, the same as a frosted surface, and thus injure the sale of the head. The heads can be handled most safely if the leaves are left on, and these had best be left entire until the plants are taken to the packing shed; and for a near market they may even be left on to advantage until the plants are ready to be exposed for sale. The main object of their removal is in order that the heads may be readily inspected.
This is often done in the field, but, as just stated, it had better be delayed until the heads are carried to the place for packing. To trim them, take hold of a head near the butt with one hand, holding it upright against you, then with a turning motion, cut clear around the head, leaving the cut ends of the leaves projecting about an inch above the edge of the head. This exposes as much of the head as can be seen at one view, and the leaves as left protect the margin from bruises. The butt should be cut off smooth, and there should be left about two layers of leaves.
The heads at the time of packing should be free from moisture, and if the leaves are a trifle wilted they will pack all the better. Flour barrels, or barrels of that size, are best to pack in, as cauliflowers are now usually sold at wholesale by the barrel. Barrel-crates of the same size are also coming into use, especially for the early crop, as the heads are liable to heat in hot weather if packed in close barrels. Each cauliflower at the time of packing is now usually wrapped in strong soft white paper, the edges of the paper being tucked between the leaves and head. The heads are then placed in the barrels, commencing at the outside, laying them upon their sides facing in, and filling the center with smaller heads. Continue each layer in this way until the barrel is a little more than full. Pack as solid as possible. Cover with canvass or bagging, putting it under the top hoop and pressing it down by driving down and nailing the hoop. Tea-chest matting, which usually costs nothing, may be used for covers if desired.
It may be added that cauliflowers are sometimes packed in their own leaves, just as they come from the field, or all the leaves may be removed but one or two which are to be folded over the head. It usually pays, however, to use paper, but this must be white, or else when bruised it will stain the heads.
Sometimes, when the cauliflowers are to be sold at retail, sugar-barrels are used to pack in, as they cost less than other barrels and are larger. They are always clean and sweet, and do not make too large a package, as cauliflowers are not heavy.
Small slatted crates are also a favorite package in which to ship cauliflowers, particularly early in the season. Large crates, such as are sometimes used for cabbages, are entirely unsuitable.
A method of packing cauliflowers for shipment employed in Denmark, is described as follows: "The heads are to be cut off in a dry state, but not wilted, and with only an inch of stalk. The leaves are to be removed, with the exception of a couple of the inner courses, which should be cut down to such a length as to meet when they are bent gently together over the head. Pack in clean, open neat-looking crates or boxes, in the bottom of which put a few leaves, and on these the cauliflower heads, which should be of a uniform size for each crate. Pack closely and firmly in layers, taking care, however, not to bruise the tender heads. All the heads in a layer should turn in the same direction, being laid sidewise, and the next layer in the opposite direction, respectively, with top and stem. On the top of the heads fill in with leaves until the cover will press the whole contents so tight as to prevent the heads from moving during transportation."
The price of cauliflowers is less subject to fluctuation than that of most other vegetables. There is comparatively little competition between different localities, and about the only causes of low prices are temporary and local over-production, and forced sales caused by damaged stock. One year with another, a dollar and a half a dozen may be realized on good heads, which is more than double the average price of cabbages. Contracts are taken, however, at as low as fifty cents a dozen to supply pickle-factories. Under favorable conditions fully as large a percentage of cauliflowers will head as of cabbages, so that in a good location, with proper care, the cauliflower crop is a profitable one. It may be well to remind growers, however, that one should not attempt to sell a large quantity of cauliflowers in a small market, for even at a low price people will not buy largely of what they are not accustomed to using. But it is surprising to what an extent a market may be developed for this vegetable. No one who has once used the cauliflower will thereafter do without it, if it can be obtained at a reasonable price. There is absolutely no necessary limit to the market for this vegetable, providing reasonable care is exercised in creating and supplying the demand. The price in this country ought always to be maintained if possible at at least double that of cabbages, not only on account of the greater delicacy of the cauliflower, but because of the greater care needed in its production, and the uncertainty of the crop, owing to unfavorable seasons and other causes. I could easily quote examples of extraordinary profits made in growing the cauliflower, as well as instances of repeated failure. Cases of both kinds of experience are given elsewhere in the present volume. I have here only attempted to show what may be reasonably expected.
More attention is being paid of late years to the keeping of cauliflowers in winter, and it is now customary with some to plant a small late crop for the purpose of winter heading. Most growers, however, will have more or less unheaded plants at the end of nearly every season which can be used for this purpose.
William Falconer, of Long Island, sows Extra Early Erfurt about July 1, pots the young plants, and sets them in the open field after early potatoes have come off. In November the plants that show signs of heading are stripped of the larger outer leaves, then taken up and set close together in beds and covered with hot-bed sash. In cold weather straw or thatch is added. In this way the plants continue to give heads until February. Plants which have begun to head may be taken up in the same way and set in a cellar. Just enough moisture should be given to keep them from wilting, as, if too much is given, they are liable to rot. Fully headed cauliflowers are difficult to keep. If hung up in a cellar in the way cabbages are frequently kept, they wilt and become strong in flavor and dark in color. This may be remedied with a few heads by cutting off the stem a few inches below the head before they are hung up, hollowing out the stem and filling the hollow with water. It is said that the heads will keep in good condition for a long time if packed in slightly damp muck. A simple way of preserving partly headed plants out of doors is to take them up with as much earth as possible and set them close together in trenches, after the manner of celery, placing boards at the sides, and in cold weather a covering of straw overhead. In this way the heads are easily accessible and keep in good condition.
A method employed in Scotland for preserving cauliflower is to bury them in a dry place, heads downward and roots exposed, in the ordinary manner of burying cabbages. They are said to keep well by this method from November to January. The leaves are folded over the heads to keep them from coming in contact with the soil.
Another method, employed in Denmark, is to make a bed of moist sand about four inches deep in a cool room protected against frost; the floor had better be of asphalt, cement or the like. Toward the end of autumn the heads are cut with a piece of the stem three or four inches in length, which is stuck into the sand. All the leaves are removed except the inner course, which must be cut down pretty closely, and the heads then covered with flower pots.
Still another method, employed where hard freezing is not anticipated, is to take up the plants and set them out in a slanting position close together out of doors with the heads to the north, as is done with cabbages.
Pulling up the plants and throwing them on their sides will protect the heads from a moderate degree of cold, and can be resorted to upon the sudden approach of cold weather. Cutting the heads with plenty of leaves and throwing them in long low heaps, faces downward, will preserve them in the cool, damp weather of early winter for a considerable time, and the heads, even in this condition, will increase somewhat in size.
It will sometimes happen, early in the season, that one desires to retard the development of the head until a convenient time for marketing. For this purpose the plants may be lifted, when the heads are nearly mature, and set under a shed or elsewhere in the shade.
It may be well here to remind those who grow only a few plants in a garden, and who wish to prolong the season, that several cuttings may be taken from a single head if desired. A portion of the head should be left each time. Occasionally, but not often, a stump will sprout and form a second crop. A method of accelerating the formation of heads, which is practiced in Ireland, may also be worth recording. It consists in slitting the stalk from near the ground upward toward the heart, and placing a stick in the slit to prevent the parts reuniting. The soil is then drawn up around the cut, and the plant staked to prevent its breaking off. It is said that plants so treated will form their heads from six to eight days earlier than they otherwise would.
THE EARLY CROP.
I cannot do better in treating of this crop than to first quote the following, by the late Peter Henderson, of New York City, from his work on "Gardening for Pleasure":
"There is quite an ambition among amateur gardeners to raise early cauliflower, but as the conditions necessary to success with this are not quite so easy to command as with most other vegetables, probably not one in three who try it succeed. In England, and most places on the Continent of Europe, it is the most valued of all vegetables, and is grown there nearly as easily as early cabbages. But it must be remembered that the temperature there is on the average ten degrees lower at the time it matures (June) than with us; besides, their atmosphere is much more humid, two conditions essential to its proper development. I will briefly state how early cauliflowers can be most successfully grown here. First, the soil must be well broken, and pulverized by spading to at least a foot in depth, mixing through it a layer of three or four inches of strong well-rotted stable manure. The plants may be either those from seed sown last fall and wintered over in cold frames, or else started from seeds sown in January or February in a hot-bed or green-house, and planted in small pots or boxes, so as to make plants strong enough to be set out as soon as the soil is fit to work, which, in this latitude, is usually the first week in April. We are often applied to for cauliflower plants as late as May, but the chances of their forming heads when planted in May are slim indeed. The surest way to secure the heading of cauliflowers is to use what are called hand-glasses. These are usually made about two feet square, which gives room enough for three or four plants of cauliflower until they are so far forwarded that the glass can be taken off. When the hand-glass is used the cauliflowers may be planted out in any warm border early in March and covered by them. This covering protects them from frost at night, and gives the necessary increase of temperature for growth during the cold weeks of March and April; so that by the first week in May, if the cauliflower has been properly hardened off by ventilating (by tilting up the hand-glasses on one side) they may be taken off altogether and then used to forward tomatoes, melons or cucumbers. If the weather is dry the cauliflowers will be much benefitted by being thoroughly soaked with water twice or thrice a week. * * * The two best varieties of cauliflower we have found as yet  are the Dwarf Erfurt and Early Paris."
Notwithstanding the care required for the early crop, the same writer states in his earlier work on "Gardening for Profit," (published in 1867, during a period of high prices,) that "for the past four or five years cauliflowers [early] have been one of my most profitable crops. I have, during that time, grown about one acre each year, which has certainly averaged $1,500. On one occasion the crop proved almost an entire failure, owing to unusual drought in May; while, on another occasion, with an unusually favorable season, it sold at nearly $3,000 per acre. The average price for all planted is about $15 per 100, and as from 10,000 to 12,000 are grown to the acre, it will result in nearly the average before named—$1,500 per acre. Unlike cabbages, however, only a limited number is yet sold, and I have found that an acre of them has been quite as much as could be profitably grown in one garden."
The above, by the late well-known New York seedsman and market-gardener, though written nearly forty years ago, is true to-day, so far as the general profitableness of the cauliflower is concerned, and the extra care required with the early crop.
The chief condition of success with early cauliflowers is that they shall head before hot weather comes on. To this end the earliest varieties are chosen, and they are set as early as possible in the spring, and pushed rapidly forward, as stated, by using protection if necessary, and by high manuring. It is an advantage to set the early plants between ridges, as is done with early cabbage. The ridges hold the sun and keep off the cold winds, and the furrows between carry off the surface water. The plants are best set upon the south or east side of the ridges, near the base. A good furrow with an ordinary plow forms a sufficient ridge.
Formerly it was thought necessary to start the plants in the fall, but since the newer early sorts have been produced, this is being abandoned. Fall sowing has never been as successful in the Northern United States as in England, and the failures to grow cauliflowers successfully in this country have often resulted from adhering to the methods employed in the Old World. Plants started in hot-beds in February, and properly hardened off, receive but little check when set out, and make a better growth than those which have been wintered over.
In the latitude of Virginia and Maryland, wintering over the young plants may be resorted to, and for gardeners in that latitude the methods adopted in England will be well worth studying, even if they can not be literally followed. The time for sowing the seed should be so gauged that the plants shall be neither too large nor too small during the coldest months. If too small they will not be sufficiently hardy to winter over; if too large they will be likely to button instead of forming fully developed heads.
When the young plants are transplanted into their winter quarters they should be set deeply, as the stem is the part most easily injured by cold; the same rule of planting deeply should be followed in the first plantings in the open ground in spring.
Wintering in the open air in a warm sheltered situation is preferable, where it can be done, to wintering under frames, for plants so exposed will be most healthy and will continue their growth with least interruption in the spring.
Plants wintered under glass require considerable room, and as much air as can be safely given. If pots are used, care must be taken not to have them too small, or to allow them to become entirely filled with the roots, for this will have a tendency to cause the plants to button.
I cannot perhaps do better than to mention here such other causes as have this same tendency. Anything which checks the growth of the plants when they are a few inches high is liable to produce this result—such as leaving them too long in the seed-bed, withholding water, poor soil, too much crowding. After the plants are set out, a cold rainy time or badly drained land may have the same effect; also a very hot time, if the soil is dry and the plants are not growing well. The check occasioned by the transplanting may also cause the plants to button, if they have become large, and the soil or weather is unfavorable. On this account it is unsafe to let cauliflower plants get as large as cabbage plants sometimes are when transplanted.
I will close this topic by quoting two paragraphs from The Garden, an English journal from which I have already taken much valuable information. The first is by a person who signs himself "D. T. F.," who says:
"Cambrian [a previous writer] attributes this to over-manuring, and no doubt this frequently causes buttoning, but over-frosting is quite as injurious as over-manuring; and the hard frost which we had here on the 1st of April seems to be sending all the exposed plants into buttons, whilst those protected only with glass lights seem safe and sound and are spreading their leaves wide and looking extremely promising."
The next writer, Mr. Gilbert, adds:
"The whole of my Early London cauliflowers have buttoned, but not the Walcheren, at least at present. I hear, too, this is the case in many parts of the country. I have for years noted that after a cold severe winter and a warm spring both cauliflowers and cabbages 'bolt,' but this season having been quite the reverse I thought they might have escaped."
Another writer calls attention to the fact that plants which have been nursed or protected too much during winter are more apt to button when set out in the spring than those which have been more exposed.
CAULIFLOWER REGIONS OF THE UNITED STATES.
A comparatively small portion of the United States is well adapted to the growth of cauliflower. The climate for the most part is too dry. The districts suited to its cultivation are often of very limited area, and are determined by local causes affecting the distribution of moisture and the character of the soil. The manner of treating the crop, and the degree of care necessary for successful results, will therefore depend largely on the locality where it is grown. For the purpose of giving more definite information on these points, the country may be divided into the following cauliflower regions:
THE UPPER ATLANTIC COAST.
This includes the greatest number of localities where cauliflower culture has thus far been successfully conducted in the United States. The region is comparatively well watered, and contains a great diversity of soil and situation. More good markets are found here than elsewhere. The heart of this cauliflower region is now found upon the north shore of Long Island, where there is a strong soil, in a damp climate, within easy reach of the New York and other large markets. Two crops are grown here, the spring and fall. Wm. Falconer, of Queen's County, states that for the early crop he sows the seed in a hot-house in February, and gradually gives the plants more room and cooler quarters until they are ready for the open ground. The varieties he uses are Henderson's Snowball, Early Erfurt, Stadtholder and Lenormand. He has repeatedly attempted to grow the spring crop from fall-sown plants, but they have almost invariably buttoned, however late the seed was sown, or however slightly the plants were protected. Occasionally, also, the February-sown plants of Henderson's Snowball and Erfurt will button.
For the main fall crop the same four varieties above mentioned are sown out of doors about May 18th, at the time of sowing late cabbage. For a later crop he makes another sowing a month later. These last usually begin to head about the last of November and are taken up and protected to furnish a supply during the winter. Mr. C. E. Swezey, of Suffolk County, says that more money is undoubtedly made to the acre on cauliflower than any other crop. He finds the early crop the most profitable, although the most expensive. For this crop he uses seventy-five tons of the best horse manure per acre, and for the late crop about half that amount. The variety he prefers is Henderson's Snowball, this with the Early Erfurt being the only kinds he uses.
Francis Brill, in his book on "Farm Gardening and Seed Growing," said, in 1872, "For the past two years the farmers of the east end of Long Island, especially about the village of Mattituck, have planted largely of cauliflower, being incited by the successful experiments of some who have removed here from the west end, who were formerly engaged in growing vegetables for the New York markets. The past season the crop has succeeded admirably, and large profits have been realized by growers in this vicinity, and this by men, many of whom are inexperienced in the cultivation of this or any other vegetable for market; and, moreover, the most of it was grown at the worst possible season of the year. As a general rule, cauliflowers do not succeed well on old land, and much of the land hereabouts is new, and but little of it indeed has ever been used for cabbages or anything of this nature. But beyond a doubt it is the humid saline atmosphere of this section which makes the cultivation of this vegetable a success. Protracted drouths are here almost unknown, and even during the temporary absence of rain in the summer months the air does not seem so dry and withering, so to speak, as in sections more remote from the ocean, the Sound and the great salt water bays by which we are surrounded." The varieties he mentions are Early Erfurt and Early Paris for the first crop, the Nonpareil and [or] Half Early Paris for a succession, with Lenormand and Walcheren for late.
The same author, in his work entitled "Cauliflowers and How to Grow Them," published in 1886, says: "The cultivation of cauliflower in the eastern towns of Suffolk County, N. Y., familiarly known as the east end of Long Island, was begun at Mattituck about sixteen years ago, upon a small scale, as an experiment, by one or two gardeners from the west end who were formerly engaged in growing vegetables for New York markets. The success which attended these experiments, and the subsequent efforts of some of our farmers, who by reason of reported great profits, were induced to take up the cultivation of this crop, has been an incentive to others, until at the present time an East End farm without an acre or more of cauliflower is an exception, while in the towns of Riverhead and Southold many farmers grow from five to fifteen acres each, and in the other towns of Suffolk County the business is largely on the increase. As a rule the crop has done well, subject of course to the ravages of insects, drouths, etc., which have at times been serious drawbacks; especially was this the case in 1884, when the crop was almost a total failure, but never before had we experienced such a protracted drouth or such an abundance of insects of every known species, and only those who were in advance of the drouth, or who had sown seed very late, succeeded in getting heads for market, but the few who were thus situated received almost fabulous prices for their product." The following year he says the crop was remarkably successful, more than 100,000 barrels being shipped from Suffolk county to the New York markets during the mouths of October and November. "Prices this year have ranged from ten dollars early in the season down to one dollar and twenty-five cents a barrel during the glut, when large quantities were sold to picklers at one cent per pound for clean trimmed clear curd or flower. As a rule early and very late cauliflowers bring the best prices. * * * * * Experience has taught us that stable manure applied at the time of planting, except for the earliest spring crop, is often injurious, and I advise applying stable manure plentifully to the crop of the preceding year, or otherwise let it be turned under at the fall plowing, or if well rotted at the first spring plowing, and at the time of planting apply commercial fertilizers, or, as they are sometimes called, patent manures, using whatever brand you may have the most confidence in. The competition between manufacturers has become so great that all are compelled to be at least partially honest, and several prepare a special fertilizer for cauliflower and cabbage which works admirably. Our best growers all use German potash salts, or Kainit, about 13 per cent. actual potash, one ton to the acre; or sulphate of potash, equal to 27 per cent. actual potash; or muriate of potash, equal to 45 per cent. actual potash, about one half a ton to the acre. The relative cost per ton, of these is $16.00 for Kainit, $38.00 for sulphate and $45.00 for muriate—these are present prices, but the market is subject to fluctuations. These should be evenly applied broadcast and turned under at the spring plowing, and from one half a ton to one ton of fertilizer to the acre should be applied in the same manner on the surface, and harrowed in at the last preparation of the soil. Of late many have been using fish guano, which is the scrap or flesh and bone refuse from the Menhaden oil-rendering establishments, in connection with potash salts, with excellent results; in fact Captain Edward Hawkins, of Jamesport, one of our most successful growers, uses nothing else, applying one ton of each to the acre. Very good cauliflowers have been grown by opening furrows, placing the fertilizer therein, and covering so as to form ridges; but I advise broadcast manuring and flat cultivation for this crop, as I am fully convinced that one acre in proper shape and condition will pay much better than two acres only half fertilized. Pure, fine ground bone, one ton to the acre, plowed under will be found beneficial, especially so in carrying the plants out at the time of heading, but it is scarcely stimulating enough for the early requirements of the plants. Well rotted stable manure may be used to advantage, freshly applied and plowed under, for early spring planting of cold-frame or hot-bed plants which are expected to mature before extremely hot-dry weather, but it has no special advantage except to warm up the soil. * * * The great crop with us is during the months of October and November, for which seed is sown from May 15 to June 25, and the plants set from the middle of June to the last of August according to the kind." The varieties named for spring planting are, "Erfurt Extra Dwarf Earliest," and "Small Leaved Erfurt," both being also good for the fall crop, the latter for this crop being sown as late as July 1st. The Algiers, a standard sort for fall, is sown from May 15 to June 1. Mr. Brill adds: "Every known sort has been tested by our growers, and I have had in one field eighty-six samples, comprising every known variety and sub-variety often repeated, grown from seed procured from every possible source, and with the exception of one or two sorts, which have done well under peculiarly favorable conditions and circumstances, all have been positively condemned except those above named." The varieties referred to are the Dwarf Erfurt strains (including Henderson's), the Algiers, and the Early and Half Early Paris—the latter two being now superceded by the former.
C. H. Allen, in the American Agriculturist for 1889, page 297, says: "No section of the United States seems so well adapted to the growing of the cauliflower as the northeastern part of Long Island, N. Y. For the earliest crop a piece of heavy sod ground is plowed during the month of April. It is then spread with fish scrap at the rate of one ton to the acre, which is thoroughly harrowed in. A strip is then prepared for sowing seed, by raking the ground until it is in good condition; the first sowing of seed is made May 15. The seed for the main crop is sown ten to twenty days later. When the plants are ready to set the ground is again plowed in an opposite direction from the first plowing and then spread with muriate of potash at the rate of half a ton to the acre, or if fish scrap cannot be procured, some standard fertilizer is used after the second plowing without the addition of muriate of potash. The Early Dwarf Erfurt and Snowball are the most popular varieties. The Algiers has been largely used, but for the past two or three seasons has done very poorly, and will not be grown in the future. The plants are set three feet apart each way. This applies to Erfurt and Snowball; Algiers requires the rows four feet apart."
The American Garden for 1889, page 59, says: "Almost nine-tenths of all the cauliflowers that come to the New York market are grown in Suffolk County on Long Island, and this industry is said to bring about $200,000 a year to the county. Success with cauliflower culture has been very indifferent in other parts of Long Island and elsewhere where tried."
A New Jersey market-gardener described his experience as follows a few years ago in the New York Tribune: "Among the many uncertain crops, the cauliflower stands prominent, for very often under the best culture, it fails to produce a head on an acre, although the usual outlay for preparing and manuring the ground preparatory to planting will be at least twice as much as for a crop of late cabbage. But when a full crop of cauliflower is raised, the profits will average three times that of the cabbage in the same market. This being the case, it is not strange that every means known to the profession should be resorted to with the hope of getting year after year maximum crops of this vegetable. But, as yet, no plan has been discovered, under our burning July and August sun, that will make cauliflower head with certainty every season. Any practical man, with strong ground well manured, can every now and then raise a crop of cauliflower. But this partial success one year does very often prove a decided loss in the long run, for the reason that it often happens three times the amount realized from this crop will be spent in the attempt to raise another just like it, with the determination not to give up. This has been my experience, although the experiments are made now on a much smaller scale than formerly. Last year I set out 2,500 plants, and only marketed 500 from the patch; the failure was owing to late planting. To avoid any such mistake this year, the ground was made ready for planting early in July, and by the middle of the month some 1,800 plants set out. The ground in this case was richer and more mellow at the time of planting than last year, and the cultivation was about the same. At first these plants grew vigorously, but late in August they were checked from some unknown cause, and from this check they did not recover. Some of the lower leaves had turned yellow and dropped off, leaving the stalks almost bare, while others have made no new growth since. Judging from present appearances, there will not be twenty-five sizeable heads out of the 1,800 planted. This is rather discouraging, but one has to take the good with the bad in farming or gardening. Too late to remedy the error it was found that the variety planted was Walcheren instead of the Erfurt, a variety that has given me more profitable returns for the last six years than any other, unless it may be the Half Early Paris."
In New England the crop is more uncertain than on Long Island. W. H. Bull, of Hampden County, Massachusetts, finds the crop profitable about one year in three. Formerly, he says, when cauliflowers were a new thing, any kind of a head would sell, but now only the best will bring a paying price. The loose, leafy, purple, or otherwise discolored heads produced in hot, dry weather, are hardly worth hauling to market. He finds the Extra Early Erfurt about as good as Henderson's Snowball. He sows the seed in April for a fall crop. If sown after the first week in May the plants fail to head before frost.
Around Boston the cauliflower is grown quite successfully, and, as elsewhere stated, seed is occasionally produced there. The variety formerly grown for the main crop was an improved form of Early Paris, called Boston Market, but this is now displaced by the new Extra Early Erfurt strains. It may be mentioned here that around Montreal the fall crop is very successfully grown.
THE LAKE REGION.
In the region of the Great Lakes there are many localities having a suitable soil in which cauliflower may be grown to good advantage. The moist atmosphere, which renders much of this region so well adapted to the cultivation of fruit, favors the growth of the cauliflower. In this region the fall crop is the one mainly grown, and the half-early varieties, such as Early Paris and Early London have been chiefly used, though the earlier Erfurt varieties are now largely grown.
Detroit, Grand Rapids, and other Michigan cities are comparatively well supplied with home-grown cauliflower.
In Western Michigan there is considerable high, rolling land, of a deep loamy character, covered originally with a heavy growth of hard-wood timber. It was on such land as this, in Ottawa County, that the writer grew cauliflower very successfully between the years 1870 and 1884. The land had but recently been cleared of its timber, and it seldom received any other fertilizer than the heavy June-grass sod which was turned under. The method of preparing the ground was the same as for any other farm crop, and the plants, mainly of the Early Paris variety, were set out about the last of June, usually four feet apart each way. They were given good care, and generally began to head in September, at the time of the autumnal equinox, when there is usually a week or two of cool, rainy weather. Following this, early in October, there are generally a few hard frosts which injure some of the heads if they are not kept well covered and closely cut. The main cauliflower season then comes on, running through October and the first half of November. In a warm, late season nearly all the plants will have headed, and the heads have been sold before cold weather, but when winter comes on early, a portion of the plants will be still undeveloped; these are either gathered and stored, as elsewhere described, or used for feeding stock. My crop was marketed at Grand Rapids and Chicago, and was considered the finest sent to either of those cities. Its excellence was attributed mainly to the deep new fertile soil, which never suffered from drouth under proper cultivation, and to the moist climate, due to the surrounding forests and the proximity to Lake Michigan.