Cauliflowers are a popular vegetable, but they are perhaps one of the more difficult ones to grow. However, most problems encountered in their growing result from incorrect preparation prior to planting.
The first requirement is that the plants are grown in rich, deep soil. The second requirement is that they are grown without interruption to their growth. Regular watering is also a necessity.
The addition of well-rotted compost or manure prior to planting, so that the soil becomes firm, will create good growing conditions.
The addition of lime if the soil is too acidic is necessary. A general fertiliser can be applied over the soil. It should be raked gently into the surface rather than being dug in, thus helping to maintain firmness in the soil.
Cauliflower seedlings should be placed about 75cm apart. Quick-growing crops such as lettuce or leaf-salad vegetables can be planted in between the cauliflowers.
Applications of leaf fertilisers will ensure the plants maintain good and strong growth.
Leaves can be bent across the developing head to ensure they remain white.
Caterpillars and aphids are two of the more common problems experienced when growing cauliflowers. Regular observation of the plants will enable better control and young caterpillars can be removed by hand.
The placing of marigold plants in the garden will attract helpful insects that will help to control aphids. However, should a severe infestation occur, then spraying using a pyrethrum-based spray might be necessary. Harvesting should commence with smaller heads so that a glut of produce is avoided.
Euphorbias are a quite diverse group of plants that are sometimes overlooked when plants are selected for inclusion in garden beds and, yet, they are plants that are often very hardy and tolerant of a wide range of conditions.
The best known member of this family is probably the Poinsettia, well known because of its red "flowers" that have come to be associated with the season of Christmas.
Poinsettias are typical examples of this group of plants in that what appear to be flowers are actually colourful bracts and the true flowers are quite insignificant yellow balls in the centre.
Many euphorbias produce a flower with a 3-pronged stigma, producing a seed in each capsule following fertilization of the flower. These seeds can lead to the presence of multiple seedlings in the garden, although it is easy to remove any that are undesirable.
Some euphorbias also spread by means of rhizomes, growing under the surface of the soil, so it is advisable to place the plant in an areas where it will not become a nuisance or invasive.
Poinsettias are also typical of the euphorbia group of plants in that they exude a sticky white sap when a leaf or other plant part has broken off. Some individual people are allergic to this sap, so care should be taken when pruning or cutting any branches or stems of euphorbias. Production of the white sap becomes a defence mechanism for plants growing in their natural habitat, as it deters damage from insects and animals.
In excess of 4000 species of Euphorbias are in existence, ranging in size from mini grass-like plants through to large trees. Poinsettias themselves can grow from smaller pot specimens through to small tree structures.
Apart from poinsettias, there are many that are highly useful and ornamental in the garden.
Euphorbias, in general, form very hardy specimens in the garden setting.
Euphorbia millii, the "Crown of Thorns", is another more commonly grown variety. It varies in size from a small shrub through to 1 metre in height. Plants are very hardy and produce large thorns, making it suitable for use as a barrier.
Two other varieties that have been, and are popular in the home garden are Euphorbia wulfenii and Euphorbia marginata. Euphorbia wulfenii produces grey/green foliage with lime green flowers on a rather sprawling shrub.
Euphorbia marginata has green leaves that are edges in white, giving the plant it common name of "snow on the mountain".
Although many euphorbias have a rather delicate appearance, they are often drought hardy and frost tolerant. This makes them suitable to grow in a wide range of climatic conditions from coastal through to tablelands areas, from warm temperate through to cool temperate climates.
Euphorbias have a sticky white sap that may cause an allergic reaction.
Parsley plants can be one of the more useful plants to have in a garden. They look attractive in a vegetable or herb garden but can also have a visual impact when planted into a flower bed or between lower growing shrubs.
Young plants are available in pots or seedling trays, but plants can also be grown from seed. However, parsley seeds can be difficult to raise as seedlings.
Parsley seeds are slow to germinate and usually require soaking prior to germination taking place. This can be achieved by soaking the seeds in warm water overnight.
Alternatively, the seeds can be sown thickly, directly into a seed raising mixture on top of the garden bed. Then water that had just boiled can be poured over the soil and seeds. Using either method, the young seedlings should emerge in about three weeks.
- Geraldton Wax plants are coming in to flower, making it easier to choose a preferred variety and colour.
- Winter colour can be obtained through the inclusion of plants that have berries on them at this time.
- Put potted, flowering plants outdoors at night time if they have been in a heated room.