Tag Archives: organic gardening

My Cauliflower is Turning Pink

My cauliflower plants have grown from tiny seedlings to large plants with almost mature heads of delicious edible flowers. I’ve been watching and waiting for one to be ready to come into my kitchen. So imagine my surprise when I went to my tiny garden yesterday and found this:

Cauliflower Turning Pink - mlm c

The photo above was taken late in the afternoon using a flash, so the leaf colors may look a bit strange. The photo below, of a much younger plant, was taken in full sun, showing off the beautiful true green color. Notice thatI had to hold the leaves back in order to see the head. As the plants grow larger, the lowest leaves wither and fall away, while the uppermost ones open to expose the flower but, at this early stage, the leaves are tightly closed around the baby flower head.
Baby Caulliflower - mlm c

After finding that purplish-pink tint on my cauliflower, I did a bit of research, and learned that it is caused by the heads being exposed to the sun when the leaves begin to open. I learned that the upper leaves should be tied closed over the heads to shield them from the sun. It seemed to me that the leaves would slip out of any string or cord I could use, so I gathered the leaves around the heads, folded the largest ones over the tips of the others, and secured them with clothes pins. In the photo below, you can see a few of them with clothes pins clipped at the top. I think I may go ahead and clip off those lower leaves. They will make great compost. Here you can see a few brown leaves that I have clipped off and just dropped on the ground. That is really good for nourishing the garden soil, but it doesn’t make for pretty photos. Guess I’d better rake them away next time, huh?

Cauliflower with Clothes Pins - mlm c

I may go ahead and cut a couple of these guys, because I have snow pea seedlings that need to begin climbing the obelisk at the center of the garden.

Do you like cauliflower?  We have three favorite ways to eat it:

  1. Raw, dipped in light ranch dressing
  2. Steamed with just a bit of butter, salt, and pepper.
  3. Creamed, just as you would make creamed (mashed) potatoes. Some people call this South Beach potatoes.

I have learned that the pink tint may cause the cauliflower to have a bitter taste. I found nothing to indicate that it causes the vegetable to be harmful. Next time, I will know to keep the heads shielded from the sun.

UPDATE:  As it turned out, I injured my ankle, 2 days after publishing this blog post, so I did very little gardening for several months.  At the time, the cauliflower heads seemed small to me, so I was content to ignore them for a couple of weeks while nursing that ankle. When I was able to check on them, they had bolted; i.e., gone to seed. So I composted them. I guess I’ll have to try again later.

What’s Eating My Basil?

Gina's Basil copyrighted

My friend and neighbor, Gina, texted me some photos of her basil leaves this week. Unfortunately, the first one didn’t come in right away, so I saw only the 2nd and 3rd ones until just now. The above photo (the 2nd one to arrive) shows leaves with holes in them. The 3rd photo, below, shows a worm or caterpillar on a basil leaf. Here’s that little critter:

Gina's Basil Worm copyrighted

My Suggestion: insecticidal soap

Insecticidal Soap

GardenSafe is the brand I use, and is the same photo I texted back to Gina. Normally, I use Neem Oil because it doesn’t wash off  with rain, but this time of year it is so hot around here, the oil melts and slides right off the plants. Both of these products are safe to use on vegetable plans as well as flowers. I insist on organic gardening in my kitchen garden, and these products are perfect for that. The only down-side of the soap is that, after a rain, you will need to spray again. I got this insecticidal soap at Lowe’s, and my Neem Oil at Ace Hardware, but most any good garden center should have them.

Because I missed that first photo — it was late arriving in my in-box —  I didn’t see the whitish squiggly things that Gina mentioned, and told her it was probably mealy bugs. Now that I have seen it, I see I was wrong. The squiggles she mentioned appear to be trails left behind by slugs. For more information see my April 20, 2015, post entitled, Amy Asks What to Do About Snails.

Something weird is going on in cyberspace yet again:  I emailed all the photos to myself to get them on the computer, and again, the same one is the only one that hasn’t shown up yet. Those white squiggles Gina mentioned can be seen in the top photo above on part of a leaf showing out from the main one with holes in it. Looks like slug trails to me.