Cauliflower – the comeback

Cauliflower - the comeback

Is the cauliflower, the most under-appreciated member of the brassica family, making a comeback?

After a number of sightings in the national press recently, we thought we’d cast a spotlight on this often overlooked – and overcooked – traditional British vegetable.

In The Times yesterday, the chef, Yottam Ottolenghi, described the cauliflower as ‘one of the most exciting vegetables in the world’! This might be going slightly over the top, but the article also mentions that Marks & Spencer has reported that sales of cauliflowers are up 68% on last year. So there are clearly some people that are finding uses for this much-maligned brassica.

Cauliflower - the comeback

Cauliflower White Step – perfect for smaller gardens

So what can you do with cauliflower other than smother it with cheese sauce?  A quick search on the internet gives a number of tasty-sounding recipes. Yottam Ottolenghi backs up his cauliflower campaign with a number of surprisingly ‘exciting’ recipes. Fried cauliflower with pine nuts, capers and chili sounds delicious, as does a recipe of his featured recently in The Telegraph for a smoky cauliflower frittata. A friend of mine often roasts roasted cauliflower florets with curry spices as an out-of-the-ordinary accompaniment to her Sunday roast. All very mouth-watering. However, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about the random recipe ideas of cottage pie with leek and cauliflower mash or cauliflower crust pizza!

Cauliflower - the comeback

Cauliflower Aalsmeer

To enjoy a really tasty cauliflower, you need to grow your own. The great thing about growing cauliflowers is that they can be grown year round. The main sowing period is March to May, although you can sow them in January or February under glass for earlier crops. Cauliflowers do best in very fertile soil so digging in well-rotted manure before planting will help the plants’ growth. Vital to healthy and productive cauliflower plants is firm soil around the roots, so be sure to tread the earth down before and after planting/transplanting. Of course, it’s important to water plants well in dry weather – and don’t forget to give them some high nitrogen fertiliser to boost the formation of those nice bright white cauliflower curds.

Cauliflower - the comeback

Thompson & Morgan offers a wide range of cauliflower seeds. They come in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. It’s also important to mention that they have the reputation of being high in fibre and a good source of vitamin C. They are also thought to contain cancer-fighting bioflavonoids.

Try Aalsmeer, a winter-hardy cauliflower that will be ready to eat in April and White Step, a compact cauli for smaller gardens – each head is just the right size to serve 2 people.

Sonia Mermagen
Sonia has worked for Thompson & Morgan for 7 years as a marketing assistant and copy writer. She is a self-proclaimed ‘reluctant’ gardener and is generally amazed if anything flourishes in her garden. A big fan of plants marked ‘easy to grow’, ‘drought tolerant’ and ‘no pruning necessary’, Sonia has had some success this year with T&M’s giant fuchsias, buddleja ‘Buzz’ and lily ‘China Girl’.

Blueberry surprise

Hey, look what I grew! Ok, so it doesn’t look like much, but these are the first few blueberries from my blueberry plant. I had them on my cereal and although they weren’t huge, they were really sweet and all the more delicious because I grew them myself! And frankly, if I can grow blueberries, then anyone can.

Blueberry surprise

Breakfast blueberries!

Let me be clear; I’m not really a gardener. I don’t have the time to nurture my plants; I tend to just stick them in a pot or in a spare place in one of my rather weedy beds, and hope for the best.

However, on the advice of my mum (she’s a proper gardener), I wrapped my blueberry plant in some voile netting that I had left over from making a fancy dress outfit for my daughter in an attempt to keep the birds off any blueberries that might appear. They were probably put off as much by the ghoulish appearance of the bush as the inaccessiblity of the growing berries!

Blueberry surprise

That’s a fine mesh you’ve got us into…

I simply draped the material around the bush and secured it with some clothes pegs – nothing fancy or remotely expensive or scientific. But it seemed to do the trick!

Blueberry surprise

Voile netting and clothes pegs – the perfect bird deterrent

I started to notice that there were some blueberries on the plant towards the end of the summer and because of the hot weather, I did actually make sure that I watered the plant fairly regularly. I’d read on the Thompson & Morgan website that it was important to water blueberry plants near cropping time as it helps to ‘plump the berries’.

I’ve only got one plant so I haven’t had an enormous crop, but I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’s been to wander up the garden in the morning to pick a handful of delicious blueberries to have on my morning cereal. And the fact that they’re home-grown really does make them taste sweeter!

Blueberry surprise

Plump, juicy blueberries

Sonia Mermagen
Sonia has worked for Thompson & Morgan for 7 years as a marketing assistant and copy writer. She is a self-proclaimed ‘reluctant’ gardener and is generally amazed if anything flourishes in her garden. A big fan of plants marked ‘easy to grow’, ‘drought tolerant’ and ‘no pruning necessary’, Sonia has had some success this year with T&M’s giant fuchsias, buddleja ‘Buzz’ and lily ‘China Girl’.

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