Last orders: Cauliflower!

young cauliflowers under netsFinally grew some cauliflower seedlings and got them out under nets. Phew.

I had massive difficulties with cauliflowers this year. Lost two sowings – both damped off inexplicably. I did the same things at the same time and in the same way I do them every year. But no joy.

These have just enough time to head before the weather closes down. But it will be a close call.

Posted on 9th July 2013
Under: Brassicas | 2 Comments »

Duck à la cauliflower

cauliflowersTime for some nauseating smugness and self-congratulation.

As ever (gotta LOVE that hubris), my cauliflowers have been a triumph. The weather’s helped; wet ‘n’ windy suits brassicas very well.

The fridge is stuffed with cauliflowers and I’m trying to dream up ever madder recipes for them. ‘Duck à la choux-fleur’ wasn’t too successful, but cauliflower cheese soup was. Recipe:

  • Boil softened onion and cauliflower florets (lots of ’em) in chicken stock for 30 mins
  • Liquidise
  • Add grated cheese (strong cheddar) and melt it

Simple, but dead nice.

Posted on 27th July 2012
Under: Brassicas | 7 Comments »

Wanted: Dead or Alive (but dead is, like, better)

cauliflower seedlingsEvil bastard molluscs. As always happens at least once in Spring (because it’s 12 months since the last time, and I forget to take precautions), a slug/snail got into my mini greenhouse and made merry with my cauliflower seedlings. I’m left with 8 out of the original 24 plants.

Shit, shit, shit, shit.

I’ve done my tooth gnashing and cursing. Now I’m frosty, making cold plans for mollusc genocide. This is going to be the Big One, the Final Solution (if that’s not too distasteful a reference).

Molluscs, wherever you are: I’m coming after you. You can run, but you can’t hide.


Posted on 19th May 2012
Under: Brassicas, Pests | 12 Comments »

Damned if it didn’t stop raining… briefly

cauliflower seedlingsO frabjous day! Callooh Callay! It stopped raining!

We have an extraordinary 48-hr sunshine window. Can’t pretend it’s warm – 14C max – but at least it’s not pissing. I’ve enjoyed the first productive gardening day in a month.

asparagus shootsThe cauliflowers are in, and even the asparagus has appeared. At last. Not in time to save the UK asparagus festival, but better late than never.

Jeez, but things look and feel so different in the sunshine. One sees proper colours again, the way God intended… not the washed out, bleached, deathly pallor of life under leaden skies.

We’re back to rain on Monday, but the break has felt like a holiday.

Posted on 12th May 2012
Under: Asparagus, Brassicas | 9 Comments »

This is getting silly

cauliflowersThis really is getting silly.

I’m up to my neck in cauliflowers. Drowning in ’em.

Anyone fancy a cauliflower? Eh?


Posted on 11th July 2011
Under: Brassicas | 5 Comments »

Of cauliflowers and media abuses

cauliflowersAnd so the glut begins. Thought I was going to get no cauliflowers at all during the dry patch. Now that it’s been pissing with rain for three weeks, they’re going nuts. I cut all of these this evening, and there are more on the way.

I’d normally be triumphant – boringly, nauseatingly triumphant. But I can’t bring myself to gloat tonight. The News of the World scandal is profoundly depressing me.

It’s not the evil, amoral wankers who hacked that poor, dead girl’s phone – although they sicken me. It’s not even the risible, farcical denials from NOTW upper management that they knew nothing about what was going on.

No, what really bugs me is that several hundred decent journalists (most entirely unconnected with the scandal, and hired long afterwards) are now going to lose their jobs so that everyone in upper management can keep theirs.

There truly is something wickedly immoral at the heart of this whole revolting story. The stench that hovers around the Murdoch name and the Murdoch empire is suffocating – and I speak as a journalist and a NOTW admirer (easy to forget, but they used to do – and have done – some great journalism as well as the end-of-pier kiss ‘n’ tells).

It matters for Americans, too

To my American readers, to whom this may all seem arcane and irrelevant: It matters to you guys, too. The Murdoch family, through News Corp, owns vast media interests in the USA, and is bidding for more.

Americans who care about and have any say in good corporate governance need to have a long, hard look at how News International has been behaving on this side of the pond. Do you really think these behaviours have been confined to Britain? What on earth has been going on elsewhere?

Are these people you want running anything important, significant or influential in your country?

Thought not.

Posted on 7th July 2011
Under: Brassicas, Rants | 11 Comments »

When small is REALLY beautiful

small cauliflowerSmall is hardly beautiful in the vegetable world, but this year it’s the best I’m going to get… so I’m bloody thrilled.

In the midst of the July heatwave, I was convinced my cauliflowers were going to die or produce mini-heads. To my own utter astonishment, they’re now starting to head. Er, not lavishly. But still.

So my habitual pessimism has served me poorly this year. Despite everything the weather has thrown at my vegetables, and despite a distinct want of effort on my part, I’ve had no outright crop failures (unless you count a row of carrots so small they looked like those mini toothbrushes you get on long-haul flights).

Here’s to cauliflower cheese tonight!

Posted on 22nd August 2010
Under: Brassicas | 8 Comments »

2010 cauliflowers: the obituary

young cauliflowersGardening’s a bit like corporate advertising: You know that 50% of it will be ineffective. You just don’t know which 50%.

Every year I try to grow and plant out the broadest range of vegetables I can, in the full and certain knowledge that some (many?) won’t ultimately produce much, if any, food. Some will be an utter write-off.

Why waste so much time and effort?

Because in the UK, the weather is so fucking unpredictable. It can be freezing cold and wet, freezing cold and dry, hot and wet, hot and dry, hot/cold/wet/windy/dry and Christ alone knows what else.

Result: there is no such thing as a season that suits every vegetable. So some thrive, and some die – you just don’t know, in April, which will be which.

Come June, though, the clues are mounting up. And I reckon these cauliflowers are doomed. I got them in late, they struggled to get going, and now we’re getting some seriously hot and dry weather – the conditions they loathe most.

RIP Soilman cauliflower crop 2010.

Posted on 26th June 2010
Under: Brassicas | 10 Comments »

Will the cauliflowers actually happen in 2010?

cauliflower seedlingsIncredible: June 9th and I’ve STILL not got my first tranche of cauliflowers out on the plot.

Honestly, this year’s been crap. I’ve had a difficult time lately for other reasons, but the running regime is one of the main culprits. Finding the time to cultivate a full allotment AND run 15 miles a week is proving challenging.

Anyone even further behind than me? Please, please say. You’ll make me feel so much better.

Posted on 9th June 2010
Under: Brassicas | 14 Comments »

Slowest growing brassicas EVER

Cauliflower seedlings gherkins

Now the mad time is starting. I’ve got seedlings stuffed into every nook and cranny of the house. There’s even more under plastic outside. I’m gagging to get them all planted out, but daren’t: it’s not frost safe for another month yet.

It’s already turning into a very peculiar growing year. My cauliflower seedlings have grown more slowly than I’ve ever known – the ones above were sown in early March, but still have only two true leaves. Quite extraordinary.

In other news, my potatoes are also coming through spectacularly slowly. Looks like patience is going to be the watchword for 2010… which is dispiriting news, because I have BUGGER ALL PATIENCE.

Posted on 1st May 2010
Under: Brassicas, Cucurbits | 8 Comments »