There is quite an ambition among amateur gardeners to raise early cauliflower, but as the conditions necessary to success with this are not quite bo 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 greenhouse, 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, some of which are described in the chapter on Implements. 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 frosts 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, at which date these may be started, if under the protection of hand-glasses. If the weather is dry, the cauliflowers will be much benefitted by being thoroughly soaked with water twice or thrice a week; not a mere sprinkling, which is of no use, but a complete drenching, so that the water will reach to the lowest roots. Those planted later are set out and treated in the same manner as cabbages. The two best varieties of cauliflower we have found as yet, are the Dwarf Erfurt and Early Paris.
Fig. 73. - Cauliflower.