Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bottle gourd cultivation

Lagenaria siceraria or Lagenaria vulgaris, the calabash, bottle gourd, opo squash, long melon,dudhi, lau or
lauki is a vine grown for its fruit, which can either be harvested young and used as a vegetable, or harvested mature, dried, and used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe. For this reason, the lau or calabash is widely known as
the bottle gourd. The fresh fruit has a light green smooth skin and a white flesh. Rounder varieties are called calabash gourds. They come in a variety of shapes, they can be huge and rounded, or small and bottle  shaped, or slim and more than a meter long.

The calabash was one of the first cultivated plants in the world, grown not primarily for food, but for use as a water container. The bottle gourd may have been carried from Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas in the course of human migration. It shares its common name with that of the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete).
tender bottle gourd for vegetable


The word comes from the Spanish calabaza, possibly from Arabic qar'a yabisa "dry gourd," from Persian kharabuz, used of various large melons; or from a pre-Roman Iberian calapaccia.

Add capti
Calabash or bottle gourd had been cultivated in Asia, Europe and the Americas for thousands of years before Columbus's discovery of America.

Recent research indicates some can have an African origin and at least two unrelated domestications: one 8–9 thousand years ago, based on the analysis of archeological samples found in Asia, a second, four thousand years ago, traced from archeological discoveries in Egypt.

The mystery of the calabash – namely that this African or Eurasian species was being grown in America over 8000 years ago – came about from the difficulty in understanding how it came to be on the American continent. Now it is cultivated in all parts of the world .

How to grow Bottle Gourds

Bottle gourds are large gourds suitable for making water dippers, bird houses and craft projects. These gourds are relatively easy and fun to raise. Gourds are produced on fast growing large climbing vines.

Preparations for planting:

 Seeds should be soaked for twenty four hours in water to assist in germination. Planting can be started indoors and seedlings transplanted or the seeds can be directly sown in the soil. Well after any danger of frost, an area at least a foot wide and three to six feet long should be prepared by roto-tilling or spading, raked smooth and made free of stones and weeds. Gourds should be along a fence, trellis or wire climbing structure. Bottle gourds should be planted well away from squash, pumpkins and other gourds to prevent cross pollination.


After soaking, seeds should be planted 1/2" to 1 1/2" deep, about six inches apart in a single row.

Water well. After germination, thin as necessary. Once established, gourd seeds produce large fast growing climbing vines. Gourds mature in 100 to 180 days. Gourds will develop at the flower bud bases. Water daily as necessary.


- For use as vegetable tender bottle guards can be harvested .

- For the purpose of use as container or music instrument it should be left to mature fully and dry .

Bottle gourds will stop growing when they change from green to white then brown. Gourds can be left on the vine until the vine dies. Gourds should be harvested and then hung, or placed in a net bag, in a cool dry place for several months. The gourds are ready for use once they have turned brown, developed ugly mold spots, and you can hear the seeds rattle inside them when you shake them.

Uses of Bottle Gourds:

Your gourds must dry for several months. That done, they should be covered with mold, and you should hear the seeds inside when you shake the gourd.

 Before you can use them, you must clean a thin layer of mold off the outside. Using warm soapy water, a plastic scrub pad and a lot of elbow grease, the mold and a film layer will come off your gourds. Once removed, the gourds should look like new wood. One can dip the gourds in a weak solution of bleach, then rinse, to ensure the mold doesn't come back.

Once dried, you can cut the gourd like wood. Dremel tools, jig saws, wood burning tools, knives, paint, stains, shoe polish and your imagination can all be used to decorate your gourd. Also the addition of sea shells, feathers, stones, leather, string, etc... can be used.


The interior dust of gourds can cause lasting lung problems. When emptying out the interiors of your gourds, cutting or drilling, please use a dust mask and work in a well ventilated location. It should be done outside houde .

Any outside use of gourds for bird houses, bird feeders, or decorations, require that the gourds be sealed against the weather.

Tips & Warnings

- Water daily, the heat of the day may cause your gourds to wilt in mid summer.

- Don't plant under trees if you don't want your vines (and your gourds) twenty feet up in the air.

-  Keep seeds from your largest gourds to plant for the following year if you want to grow Purple Martin  

- Fences make a great place to plant your gourds along.

- Use a dust mask when cleaning out your gourds.

- Don't clean out your gourds inside your house.

Spinach Cultivation

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant in the family of Amaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2–30 cm long and 1–15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3–4 mm diameter, maturing into a small, hard, dry, lumpy fruit cluster 5–10 mm across containing several seeds.

Common spinach, Spinacia oleracea, was long considered to be in the Chinopodiaceae family, but in 2003 the Chinopodiaceae family was combined with the Amaranthaceae family under the family name
spinach plants

'Amaranthaceae' in the order Caryophyllales. Within the Amaranthaceae family there are now a subfamily Amaranthoideae and a subfamily Chenopodioideae, for the amaranths and the chenopods, respectively.Contents


 The English word "spinach" dates to 1530, and is from espinache (Fr. épinard), of uncertain origin. The traditional view derives it from O.Prov. espinarc, which perhaps is via Catalan espinac, from Andalusian

spinach seeds
spinach seeds
Arabic asbinakh , from Arabic es-sabaanikh , from Persian  aspanakh, meaning roughly "green hand", but the multiplicity of forms makes the theory doubtful.


Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (modern Iran and neighboring countries). Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then the plant was introduced into ancient China, where it was known as "Persian vegetable" (bōsī cài; present:. The earliest available record of the spinach plant was recorded in Chinese, stating it was introduced into China via Nepal (probably in 647 AD).

In AD 827, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. The first written evidence of spinach in the Mediterranean are in three 10th-century works, the medical work by al-Razi (known as Rhazes in the West) and in two agricultural treatises, one by Ibn Wahshiya and the other by Qustus al-Rumi. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean, and arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century, where the great Arab agronomist Ibn al-'Awwam called it the "captain of leafy greens". Spinach was also the subject of a special treatise in the 11th century by Ibn Hajjaj.

The prickly-seeded form of spinach was known in Germany by no later than the 13th century, though the smooth-seeded form was not described till 1552. (The smooth-seeded form is used in modern commercial production.Spinach first appeared in England and France in the 14th century, probably via Spain, and it gained quick popularity because it appeared in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce and when Lenten dietary restrictions discouraged consumption of other foods. Spinach is mentioned in the first known English cookbook, The Forme of Cury (1390), where it is referred to as spinnedge and/or spynoches. Smooth-seeded spinach was described in 1552.

In 1533, Catherine de'Medici became queen of France; she so fancied spinach that she insisted it be served at every meal. To this day, dishes made with spinach are known as "Florentine", reflecting Catherine's birth in Florence.

During World War I, wine fortified with spinach juice was given to French soldiers weakened by hemorrhage.


Spinach, rawNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 97 kJ (23 kcal)
Carbohydrates 3.6 g
- Sugars 0.4 g
- Dietary fiber 2.2 g
Fat 0.4 g
Protein 2.2 g
Vitamin A equiv. 469 μg (59%)
Vitamin A 9400 IU
- beta-carotene 5626 μg (52%)
- lutein and zeaxanthin 12198 μg
Folate (Vit. B9) 194 μg (49%)
Vitamin C 28 mg (34%)
Vitamin E 2 mg (13%)
Vitamin K 483 μg (460%)
Calcium 99 mg (10%)
Iron 2.7 mg (21%)

Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A (and especially high in lutein), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach.

Polyglutamyl folate (vitamin B9 or folic acid) is a vital constituent of cells, and spinach is a good source of folic acid. Boiling spinach can more than halve the level of folate left in the spinach, but microwaving does not affect folate content. Vitamin B9 was first isolated from spinach in 1941.


Spinach, along with other green leafy vegetables, is considered to be a rich source of iron. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture states that a 180 g serving of boiled spinach contains 6.43 mg of iron, whereas one 170 g ground hamburger patty contains at most 4.42 mg.

The bioavailability of iron is dependent on its absorption, which is influenced by a number of factors. Iron enters the body in two forms: heme iron and nonheme iron. All of the iron in grains and vegetables, and about three-fifths of the iron in animal food sources (meats), is nonheme iron. The remaining portion from meats is heme iron.

The larger portion of dietary iron (nonheme) is absorbed slowly in its many food sources, including spinach. This absorption may vary widely depending on the presence of binders, such as fiber, or enhancers, such as vitamin C. Therefore, the body's absorption of nonheme iron can be improved by consuming foods that are rich in vitamin C[citation needed]. However, spinach contains iron absorption-inhibiting substances, including high levels of oxalate, which can bind to the iron to form ferrous oxalate and render much of the iron in spinach unusable by the body. In addition to preventing absorption and use, high levels of oxalates remove iron from the body. But some studies have found that the addition of oxalic acid to the diet may improve iron absorption in rats over a diet with spinach without additional oxalic acid.


Spinach also has a high calcium content. However, the oxalate content in spinach also binds with calcium, decreasing its absorption. Calcium and zinc also limit iron absorption. The calcium in spinach is the least bioavailable of calcium sources. By way of comparison, the body can absorb about half of the calcium present in broccoli, yet only around 5% of the calcium in spinach.

Pureed spinach and homemade cheese with spiced flatbread(makki di roti) from India

Types of spinach

A distinction can be made between older varieties of spinach and more modern ones. Older varieties tend to bolt too early in warm conditions. Newer varieties tend to grow more rapidly, but have less of an inclination to run up to seed. The older varieties have narrower leaves and tend to have a stronger and more bitter taste. Most newer varieties have broader leaves and round seeds.

Flat/smooth leaf spinach has broad, smooth leaves that are easier to clean than 'Savoy'. This type is often grown for canned and frozen spinach, as well as soups, baby foods, and processed foods.
The following are some of the varieties usually cultivated :-

1. Savoy : Savoy has dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. It is the type sold in fresh bunches in
                  most  supermarkets.

2. Bloomsdale : Bloomsdale   is somewhat resistant to bolting.

3. Merlo Nero : This is a mild variety from Italy . This is the common heirloom variety.

4. Viroflay : This is a very large spinach with great yields .

5. Semi-savoy :  Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same
    texture as 'Savoy', but it is not as difficult to clean. It is grown for both fresh  market  and
    processing. 'Five Star', a widely grown variety, has good resistance to running up to seed.

Production, marketing and storage

 Spinach is sold loose, bunched, in prepackaged bags, canned, or frozen. Fresh spinach loses much of its nutritional value with storage of more than a few days. While refrigeration slows this effect to about eight days, spinach will lose most of its folate and carotenoid content, so for longer storage it is frozen, cooked and frozen, or canned. Storage in the freezer can be for up to eight months.

Spinach is packaged in air, or in nitrogen gas to extend shelf life. Some packaged spinach is exposed to radiation to kill any harmful bacteria that may be on the leaves. The Food and Drug Administration approves of irradiation of spinach leaves up to 4.0 kilograys (kGy); however, there is concern that using radiation to sanitize spinach depletes the leaves of their nutritional value. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service experimentally tested the concentrations of vitamins C, E, K, B9, and four other carotenoids in packaged spinach following irradiation. They found that with increasing level of irradiation, four nutrients showed little or no change. Those nutrients include vitamins B9, E, K, and the carotenoid neoxanthin. This study showed the irradiation of packaged spinach to have little or no change to the nutritional value of the crop, and the health benefits of irradiating packed spinach seem to outweigh the health risks of transmitting harmful bacteria.

spinach seeds germinationUnited States

Driven by fresh-market use, the consumption of Spinacia oleracea has been on the rise in the United States. Per capita use of fresh-market spinach averaged 1 kg during 2004–06, the highest since the mid-1940s. The fresh market now accounts for about three-fourths of all U.S. spinach consumed. Much of the growth over the past decade has been due to sales of triple-washed cello-packed spinach and, more recently, baby spinach. These packaged products have been one of the fastest-growing segments of the packaged salad industry.

The United States is the world’s second-largest producer of spinach, with 3% of world output, following China (PRC), which accounts for 85% of output.

Uses and medicinal properties of bitroot

Uses of Beetroot and Remedy of Diseases

A Tonic for Health -

Beetroot is a good tonic food for health.
      It contains:
      -carbohydrates, mainly in the form of sugar 
      -it has a little protein and fat.

The leaves- Like all green vegetables, the leaves should be cooked with a small amount of water and for only a short time. The fresher the beets, the better the flavour and the quicker they cook.
bitroot juice with pine apple and cucumber 

Juice -The beet juice is considered as one of the best vegetable juice. It is a rich source of natural sugar.
 It contains - 1. sodium
                    2. potassium
                    3. phosphorus
                    4. calcium
                    5. sulphur
                    6. chlorine
                    7. iodine
                    8. iron
                    9. copper
                  10. silica 
                  11. vitamin B1
                  12. vitamin B2
                  13. vitamin C
          and  14. vitamin P

This juice is rich in easily digestible carbohydrates, but the calorie content is low. The protein factors and amino acids are good in both quality and quantity.

Beneficial for Kidneys and Gall Bladder Ailments - The bitroot juice has properties to clean the kidneys and gall bladder. Being rich in alkaline elements, pottasium, calcium, magnesium and iron, they are useful in combating acidosis and acid the natural processes of elimination.  The beet juice, in combination with the juice of carrot and cucumber, is one of the finest cleansing material for kidneys and gall bladder. It is highly beneficial in all disorders relating to these two organs.

Blood forming qualities - Beetroot juice is associated with human blood. It has blood-forming qualities. Due to its higher content of iron, it regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells, supplies fresh oxygen to the body and helps the normal function of vesicular breathing i.e. normal breath sound. It is thus extremely useful in the treatment of anaemia. The juice of the beetroot strengthens the body's powers of resistance and has proved to be an excellent remedy for anaemia .

Beneficial for jaundice,hepatitis,nausea & vomiting due to biliousness,diarrhoea and dysentary -
Beetroot juice is beneficial in the treatment of jaundice, hepatitis, nausea and vomitting due to biliousness, diarrhoea and dysentary. Adding a teaspoonful of lime juice to this juice increases its medicinal value and
can be given as a liquid food in these conditions.

A Medicine for gastric ulcer - Fresh beetroot juice mixed with a teaspoonful of honey taken every morning before breakfast helps the healing of gastric ulcer. Leaves of beet root, eaten as green-leafy vegetable and its juice, mixed with lime juice, are also valuable in jaundice and gastric ulcer. The juice should be taken once daily. The cellulose content of the beetroots acts as a bulk residue, increases peristalsis.

A Medicine for Constipation and piles - Its regular use thus prevents habitual constipation. A decoction
of the beet root is highly valuable in chronic constipation and haemorrhoids, i.e.piles. It may be given in doses of half to one tumblerful at bed time.

A Medicine for Hypertension,Arteriosclerosis,heart trouble & varicose veins - The beet juice is an excellent solvent for inorganic calcium deposits. It is, therefore, valuable in the treatment of hypertension, arteriosclerosis, heart trouble and varicose veins.

Beneficial for Boils,Skin inflamation and outbreaks of pimples and pustules - The water in which
beet roots and tops have been boiled is an excellent application for boils, skin inflammation and out breaks
of pimples and pustules. The white beet is better for this purpose. For an irritable skin the body should be sponged down occassionally with a mixture of three parts of beet water to one part of white vinegar. This mixture is also useful as a skin wash in cases of measles and eruptive fevers.
bitroot - carrot juice

Useful for Dandruff - The decoction of beets mixed with little vinegar can be used externally to cleanse scurf or dandruff from the head. For dandruff, the beetroot water should also be massaged into the scalp with the ginger tip every night. The health benefits of beetroot include their stimulating effects on the liver's detoxification processes.

Beneficial for cancer treatment -The betacyanin content gives beetroot its rich purple-crimson colour and is a potent cancer - fighting agent. When making a beetroot salad, using both the beetroots and beet greens. Beet greens can be used to prevent various types of cancer. Beetroot juice can even cure cancer.

It maintains cholesteral levels -  Beetroot's fibre promotes both healthy cholesterol levels and bowel function.

It cleans blood - Beetroot contain vitamin C, sulfur, iron and are known for their ability to cleanse the blood.  It improves the quality of the blood. It also purifies the blood and brings redness to the body.

It controls blood pressure - Beetroot contains copious amounts of Vitamin-C, folic acid and potassium, and silica which makes it a useful antidote to eating too much salt and a contributor to lowering blood pressure. Silica aids the uptake of calcium. The benefits of beetroot on high blood pressure are staggering! They reached top of the list in the high blood pressure foods. If you drink 500ml of beetroot juice every day, it can significantly reduce your blood pressure, according to UK researchers. When healthy volunteers drank the juice their blood pressure dropped within the hour. What was causing this effect? Nitrates. These nitrates are also present in other green, leafy vegetables that you are encouraged to eat in your nutrient rich diets. Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of the William Harvey Research Institute at Barts and the London School of Medicine was leading the research, along with Professor Ben Benjamin of the Peninsula Medical School. When the beetroot is chewed, saliva mixes with it along with bacteria from off the tongue. It is then converted into nitrite. Then we have another chemical reaction when it reaches the stomach. Because the stomach has an acidic environment, another chemical reaction occurs, the nitrite in the saliva turns to nitric oxide or will re-enter the circulation again as nitrite. The peak drop in blood pressure happened 3 - 4 hours after chewing and swallowing but it went on dropping gradually for up to 24 hours. The leading researcher, Professor Amrita Ahluwalia said: "Our research suggests that drinking beetroot juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure.

Other  benefits - Beetroots should be used in a diet since they are considered a negative calorie food .
The beetroot is a bit hard to digest. It is oily, cool, nutritious and bile controller.It reddens and vitalises the body. The betaine content of the beet helps in cleansing the stomach and the intestine.In France, there
have been many experiments on the use of very large quantities of beetroot juice to aid recovery in cases
of malignancy. In Germany, the juice is available in bottles. It is widely used as a powerful restorative during convalescence. Beetroot juice is harmless and beneficial. As it is rejuvenating, it is effective in every type of weakness.

A recent small scale study at Exeter University in England, U.K. found that drinking beetroot juice improved the endurance of athletes.

Caution: Beet greens and to a lesser extent beet roots are high in oxalate, and are generally considered unsuitable for people following a low-oxalate diet. Anyone with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over-consuming beetroot and beet greens.
Finally,Health Benefits of Beetroot Juice - It is claimed they have the ability to:
                                     -clean and build the blood
                                     -lower blood pressure
                                     -improve circulation
                                     -calm the nerves
                                     -improve the health of the liver, kidneys, and bladder
                                     -clean the intestines
                                     -fight cancer
                                     -improve menstrual problems
                                     -cure anemia 


How to make bitroot juice

1. Beet Juice Recipe with Carrot and Celery

Ingredients  :
1.    1 small beetroot (the small ones are sweeter!)
                     2.    2 large carrots
                     3.    1 stalk of celery

Directions  :
                 -Wash the vegetables using water and a stiff vegetable brush.
                 - Remove the carrot and beetroot tops, and peel the beetroot if its skin is tough. If it has a nice thin                    skin then just cut off the top.
                 - Slice up the vegetables to fit your juicer.
                 - Juice and serve.

For a sweeter drink one can  add an apple, or use 2 apples instead of the carrots.

The green beetroot tops are edible, rich in beta-carotene, and can also be juiced. They have a strong flavour and are rich in oxalic acid which if taken in excess may form kidney stones. I find a little goes a long way.

2.  Beetroot Juice with Cucumber and Pineapple

This makes a fabulous drink which is best consumed on an empty stomach as it's very cleansing!
         1.    1 small beetroot
         2.   ½ cucumber
         3.   1 cup of pineapple chunks

          - Remove the top from the beetroot and scrub using water and a stiff vegetable brush to
            remove any   dirt.
          -Peel or wash the cucumber. If the cucumber is waxed then remove the wax by peeling it.
          -Slice the pineapple and remove its tough skin.
          -Cut the fruit and vegetables to fit your juicer.
          -Juice and serve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bitroot cultivation

Beetroot grows best in cool weather, but it can be planted throughout the year. The best time to plant is from early spring to early summer  and again late in summer and into autumn . These are the cool periods of the year. Beetroot does not grow well in summer when it is very hot, neither does it grow well in the middle of winter when it is very cold.

Popular varieties
bitroot crimson globe plant

- Crimson Globe
- Detroit Dark Red

Beetroot will grow on any soil type except acid soil. It grows well on brackish and on alkaline soils, but the soil must be well drained. This means that when plants are watered, the water must soon drain into the ground and not be left as long-standing puddles. If this happens, compost must be worked into the soil. This will also prevent the soil from forming a crust through which the young plants can emerge only with difficulty. However, compost must not be worked into the soil just before the beetroot is sown, otherwise the beetroot can become hairy and form thick lateral roots. Already work the compost into the soil a season before the beetroot is
detoit dark red bitroot

grown. First plant a vegetable like cabbage and then follow it up with beetroot in the next season. This is a

form of rotational cropping, which means that you do not plant beetroot on the same patch of ground year after year. It also prevents the accumulation of diseases and insects in the soil.

Fertiliser for bitroot

The most important plant nutrient required by beetroot is nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and boron (B). Beetroot requires a great deal of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but only a small quantity of boron. The soil does not always have enough of this for beetroot, and then the beetroot farmer must supplement it. It is important not to give too few or too many plant nutrients, therefore the soil must first be analysed so that the plants will not be burned, nor show poor growth.
bitroot seeds

If you do not have the soil analysed, the following quantities may be given:

At planting, 80g of 2:3:2 (22) with zinc (Zn) per square metre (m2).

This fertiliser is a mixture of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and it contains a little bit of zinc. This means that four kinds of plant nutrients are given to the plants simultaneously. They must be worked into the soil thoroughly before the beetroot is planted.

Three to four weeks after the beetroot has been planted, or when the plants have reached a height of 15cm, or a height equal to the length of one’s hand, the following can be applied:

25g of sulphate of ammonia per m2 or

20g of limestone ammonium nitrate (LAN) per m2.

(One square metre (m2) is equal to a square made by putting four shovels on the ground, their ends touching.)

If there is too little boron in the soil, the beetroot will have black blotches on both the inside and the outside. It will also display black cracks and holes. If this occurs, 1g of Solubor per m2 can be worked into the soil before beetroot is planted there again. This is less than a quarter teaspoonful of Solubor per m2 of ground. Take care not to apply any more than this, because too much is toxic to the plants.

Preparation of land


Before beetroot seed is sown, the ground must be levelled and lumps, stones and weeds must be removed. The seed is sown in slit trenches or small furrows having a depth of 2cm. When the plants emerge, some of them must be pulled out to leave the remainder enough growing space. The space between the plants must be about 7cm. The space between the rows must be about 20cm.

It is very important to keep the soil moist until the plants emerge. In the case of very hot weather, a layer of grass cuttings, straw or long leaves of grass can be placed on the beds to protect them from drying out. Such

a layer is called a mulch. When the plants begin to emerge, the mulch must be removed so that the plants will not be lanky. When the plants have fully emerged, the mulch can be replaced again between the plants, but the plant leaves must not be entirely covered. The mulch between the plants keeps the soil moist longer and also, to an extent, prevents the emergence of weeds.

Watering bitroot plants

Beetroot has shallow roots and it is important to water the plants regularly. If they experience long dry periods, the beetroot will become hairy and fibrous. During cool weather, the plants can be watered once a week. During very hot weather, less water can be given two to three times a week instead of a lot of water once a week.

Pest and diseases

This vegetable is usually remarkably free from pests and diseases but there are a few that you should be on the look out for.

Protect from birds at the seedling stage or they will have the young tender leaves for breakfast .

Mangold Leaf or Leaf Miner is a small white grub which burrows inside the leaves creating tunnels which turn into blisters. Most serious in young plants the leaves turn brown and growth is stunted - attack usually occurs from May onwards. Treat by removing affected leaves at first sign of attack and destroy them.

Bolting is were plants sometimes run to seed before roots have developed. There are a number of reasons why this may occur:

1. dry soil
2. lack of organic matter
3. sowing seed to early
4. waiting to long to thin seedlings out

There are resistant varieties you may want to try - Boltardy being the best known and can be planted as
early as weather permits, it also has excellent taste and storing qualities... right into the following spring.

Leaf Spot appears as brown spots on leaves after planting beet root. The paler central area of the spot can drop out. The effect on the crop yield is not serious even though the leaves look badly disfigured. Remove seriously diseased leaves and destroy.

Practising crop rotation will help prevent this disease, apply a balanced fertilizer a couple of weeks before sowing.

Aphids cause leaves to curl and the new shoots to become distorted possibly resulting in less root yield. Try containing aphid attacks by encouraging other insects such as hoverflies and ladybirds which feed on them.

Beetroot - Harvesting
bitroot seedlins

Expected germination time 10-14 days
Hasten germination by soaking seeds for several hours prior to sowing
Life expectancy of stored seed Three years
Approx. time between sowing and harvesting Globe varieties - 11 weeks
Long varieties - 16 weeks

Very straightforward. Just lift the plants as you require them - the globe varieties should be no bigger than a tennis ball... the smaller the more sweet and succulent they are.

If you have grown some roots for storage these should be lifted on a dry day at the end of September into October. Be extra careful at this stage to ensure successful storage - you`ve put in a lot of effort to get here.

Pull them by hand if possible, be very care full using a fork if you have grown the long varieties - place the fork into the soil away from the plant and loosen the soil without damaging the beet root.

Remove the foliage to about 50mm(2") above the crown of the beet root (beetroot) - twist the foliage off... do not cut with a knife as this will cause the stalks to bleed. Reject any damaged beet roots or any vegetables that have been attacked by pests. Damaged beet roots will rot in storage. Do not bruise by careless handling!

Store your beet roots in a stout box between layers of dry peat - don`t let any roots touch. Place the box in a dry, frost free place... they should keep until early spring.

Beetroot can be harvested when it attains a width of 7.5cm.

Monday, August 29, 2011

cauliflower cultivation

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, in the family Brassicaceae. It is an

annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head (the white curd) of aborted floral meristems is eaten, while the stalk and surrounding thick, green leaves are used in vegetable broth or discarded.
                                            cauliflower seeds
Its name is from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower, an acknowledgment of its unusual place among a family of food plants which normally produces only leafy greens for eating. Brassica oleracea also includes cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and collard greens, though they are of different cultivar groups.

For such a highly modified plant, cauliflower has a long history. François Pierre La Varenne employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier françois. They had been introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and

are featured in Olivier de Serres' Théâtre de l'agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori "as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy", but they did
               cauliflower seesling with drift irrigation system
not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV.Contents

How to grow cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cool-season vegetable and is more difficult to grow than other members of the cabbage family.
Recommended VarietiesOpen-Pollinated

Self-Blanche (71 days to harvest; 7 inch heads with excellent leaf protection; does not need tying, especially in fall crops)

Snowball Y Improved (68 days, 6 inch heads protected by heavy leaf cover)


Andes (68 days, most adaptable self-blanching type)

Candid Charm (65 days, large head, excellent protection)

Serrano (70 days; 6 to 7 inch heads; excellent leaf cover, head quality)

Snow Crown (60 days; resistant to yellows; tolerant of heat, cold)

Snow Grace (65 days, 8 inch head, tight curd, improved Snow Crown type)

Snow King
(50 days; 8 to 9 inch heads; very early; heat tolerant)

White Corona (30 days; 3 to 4 inch heads; exceptionally early; good for small gardens and short season)


Violet Queen Hybrid (70 days, purple head, needs no blanching, turns green when cooked).


Chartreuse Hybrid II  
(62 days; no tying; greenish yellow curd)

Green Goddess Hybrid (65 days, no tying; lime green, good taste, easy to grow).

When To Plant

Cauliflower is best started from transplants for both spring and fall crops. Do not transplant sooner than 2 to 3 weeks before the average frost-free date in the spring. Cauliflower is more sensitive to the cold than its cabbage-family relatives. It is important to start cauliflower early enough that it matures before the heat of the summer but not so early that it is injured by the cold. In some seasons, that compromise may be almost impossible to achieve. Transplant autumn cauliflower about the same time as fall cabbage. Use starter fertilizer when transplanting. Start the transplants so that they grow actively until transplanting and never cease growth. Always use young, active transplants. Never buy stunted plants started in flats and held too long before transplanting; results with inferior plants are almost always disappointing.

Spacing & Depth

Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart in the row. Use the wider spacing for fall plantings.


Cauliflower plants should be kept growing vigorously from the seedling stage through harvest. Any interruption (extreme cold, heat, drought or plant damage) can abort development of the edible portion. Large plants that never develop a head are extremely disappointing. Cauliflower must have a consistent and ample supply of soil moisture. Side-dress nitrogen fertilizer when the plants are half grown.

When the head begins to form (shows 2 to 3 inches of white curd at the growing point), it is ready to blanch. Tie the outer leaves together over the center of the plant to protect the had from sunburn and to keep it from turning green and developing an off-flavor. The variety Self-Blanche is named for its natural tendency to curl its leaves over its head. Several other varieties possess this trait, especially when maturing in the fall. Under cool conditions, these varieties blanch very well and tying is unnecessary.
Botanical varieties

Cauliflower and broccoli are the same species and have very similar structures, though cauliflower replaces the green flower buds with a white inflorescence meristem.

Major groups

There are four major groups of cauliflower.


Diverse in appearance, and biennial and annual in type, this group includes :
cauliflower white
 -white                   - Romanesco                        - various green
- purple                 - brown                                 -yellow

This type is the ancestral form from which the others were derived.

Northwest European biennial

Used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest, this was developed in France in the 19th century, and includes the old cultivars Roscoff and Angers .

Northern European annuals 

Used in Europe and North America for summer and fall harvest, it was developed in Germany in the 18th

century, and includes old cultivars Erfurt and Snowball.

A tropical cauliflower used in China and India, it was developed in India during the 19th century from the now-abandoned Cornish type, and includes old varieties Early Patna and Early Benaras.


A comprehensive list of varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University. Traditional varieties include:

 -'Hybrid White',
 -'Super Snowball',

-'Snow Crown',

 -Candid Charm',

 -'Snow White' and
 -'Snow Grace'.

Self-blanching varieties are 'Self Blanche', 'Early Tuscan' and 'Late Tuscan'.

Heirloom varieties include 'All the Year Round', 'Early Pearl', 'Early Snowball', 'Igloo', 'Violetta Italia' and 'Walcheren Winter'.

Commercial varieties include 'Fremont', 'Igloo' and 'Snow Crown'.

White -   White cauliflower is the most common colour of cauliflower.

Orange  - Orange cauliflower (B. oleracea L. var. botrytis) contains 25 times the level of vitamin A of white varieties. This trait came from a natural mutant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Cultivars include 'Cheddar' and 'Orange Bouquet'.

Green  - Green cauliflower of the B. oleracea botrytis group, is sometimes called broccoflower. It is available both with the normal curd shape and a variant spiky curd called Romanesco broccoli. Both types have been commercially available in the U.S. and Europe since the early 1990s. Green-curded varieties include

'Alverda', 'Green Goddess' and 'Vorda'. Romanesco varieties include 'Minaret' and 'Veronica'.

Purple  - Purple color in cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which

can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include 'Graffiti' and 'Purple Cape'. In Great Britain

and southern Italy, a broccoli with tiny flower buds is sold as a vegetable under the name "purple cauliflower".

It is not the same as standard cauliflower with a purple curd.

Orange cauliflower


Cauliflower, raw (edible parts)Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 103 kJ (25 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5 g
- Sugars 2.4 g
- Dietary fiber 2.5 g
Fat 0 g
Protein 2 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.057 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.063 mg (5%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.53 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.65 mg (13%)
Vitamin B6 0.22 mg (17%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 57 μg (14%)
Vitamin C 46 mg (55%)
Vitamin K 15.5 μg (15%)
Calcium 22 mg (2%)
Iron 0.44 mg (3%)
Magnesium 15 mg (4%)
Phosphorus 44 mg (6%)
Potassium 300 mg (6%)
Zinc 0.28 mg (3%)

Cauliflower is low in fat, but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density.

Cauliflower contains several phytochemicals, common in the cabbage family, that may be beneficial to human health.

Sulforaphane, a compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed, may protect against cancer.

Other glucosinolates

Indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that enhances DNA repair, and acts as an estrogen antagonist, slowing the growth of cancer cells.

Boiling reduces the levels of these compounds, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 75% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods, such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying, had no significant effect on the compounds.

A high intake of cauliflower has been associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.


Aloo gobi, an Indian dish prepared with cauliflower and potato

Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. Steaming or microwaving better preserves anticancer compounds than boiling. When cooking, the outer leaves and thick stalks are removed, leaving only the florets. The leaves are also edible, but are most often discarded.The florets should be broken into

similar-sized pieces so they are cooked evenly. After eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, the florets should be soft, but not mushy (depending on size). Stirring while cooking can break the florets into smaller, uneven pieces. Cauliflower is often served with a cheese sauce, as in the dish cauliflower cheese.

Low carbohydrate dieters can use cauliflower as a reasonable substitute for potatoes; while they can produce a similar texture, or mouth feel, they lack the starch of potatoes.

Cauliflower - Pest Control

Mealy Aphids are a serious pest, weakening your cauliflower plants and introducing viruses which further weaken plants. Talk with your garden centre for what might be effective. Eggs of the Large White butterfly. Caterpillars can defoliate a plant quickly so watch out for them. Inspect the underside of the leaves for clusters and squish them. Practice your tennis strokes when the butterfly is about Caterpillar of the Small White butterfly. Defoliates plants quickly, watch out for them. Pick off and destroy, use a nematode spray. Eggs are laid under leaves in a random way, not in clusters, nor are they brightly coloured.
                  caterpillar in cauliflower leaves
Knowing how to grow cauliflower to minimise pest problems will mean following some sort of crop rotation plan.
caterpillar eggs in cauliflower leaves

This simply means not growing vegetables of the same family in the same piece of land year after encourages pest build up in the soil. For cauliflower this means - broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnip, brussels sprouts.

Whether you are a seasoned vegetable grower or are just starting to learn how to grow cauliflower or any vegetable - pests and diseases don`t care... so get to know your enemy.

Cabbage root fly can be a problem so use protective discs at the base of the cauliflower plants as they lay their eggs in the soil at this point.

These can be made from old bits of hessian backed carpet, underlay or roofing felt - use your imagination.
root fly larvae

Also cover with gardening fleece when the plants are young.
club root disease

Fleece is a great friend to the gardener, it allows rain and light through but insulates against frost and deters pests.
gardening fleece roll

Keep a watchfull eye for the appearance of caterpillars as left unattended they will devastate your cauliflower plants.
plants rapped in gardening fleece

They feed on the underside of the leaves and the best answer is to just pick them off and  squish them. They also lay their eggs there too so look for yellow clusters and  squish them. If you you have not the time to keep squishing , then use a nematode spray.
seedlings covered by gardening fleece

It uses nematodes to provide an environmentally safe and efficient treatment which can be watered straight onto edible plants. Use `Just Caterpillar` once they are seen on the plant, preferably whilst they are still small, and the nematodes will quickly seek out the caterpillar and kill it.

Club root is a fungus and all brassicas (thats the family umberalla for cauliflower along with broccoli,
club root disease

cabbage, kohlrabi, turnip, brussels sprouts) can be affected. The roots become stubby and swollen. Leaves
cauliflower plants affected by club root sisease

become yellow and wilt causing severe stunting of growth. This causes swelling of the roots and reduces the
club root affected cauliflower plant

flow of water and nutrients to the plant.

Spores are produced and can survive in the soil for up to five years.
mealy aphid in cauliflower leaves

Prevent club root by practicing crop rotation and take extreme care if you buy in seedlings from outside as this is often the way this fungus is introduced. Reducing the acidity of the soil by adding lime will help.

Aphids can be a serious pest by weakening your cauliflower plants and introducing viruses. Try planting Marigolds or Tagetes plants among the crop.

They attract beneficial insects like hover flies and lady birds which feed on the aphids and will help reduce the infestation - yet another aspect of learning how to grow cauliflower is to understand how nature can be used to benefit your environment.

Flea Beatles are tiny beetles that can make sieves out of your brassica leaves. When you touch the
flea beatles in cauliflower plants

brussel sprout leaves they ping off just like regular fleas, only these won't bite you! To deter them:
Use horticultural fleece placed over your brussels sprouts, as soon as you transplant them outside; a floating row cover.
cauliflower leaves eaten by flea beatle

Lightly hoe over the soil regularly to destroy eggs and larvae and expose them to predators.

Give your plants a midday shower with the hose (not in full sun though), as they're most active then and they don`t like wet conditions.

Try `Companion Planting`, to attract the beneficial insects.

Cauliflower - Harvesting

The cauliflower head's curd develops rapidly under proper growing conditions. It grows 6 to 8 inches in diameter and is ready to harvest within 7 to 12 days after blanching begins. The mature heads should be compact, firm and white. Harvest the heads by cutting the main stem. Leave a few green outer leaves attached to protect the heads. Cut the heads before they become overmature and develop a coarse, "ricey" appearance. Once individual florets can be seen, quality deteriorates rapidly. Because cauliflower does not ordinarily develop side shoots, plants may be disposed of or composted after heads are harvested.

It is best to begin cutting some of the heads whilst they are still fairly small. Waiting for them all to mature will mean you will have a glut of cauliflower curds.
growing cauliflower

If the individual florets which make up the head or curd of the plant begin to sperate then you have waited too long to harvest it.

It is possible to keep the heads up to two or three weeks after harvesting and before being used. Lift the cauliflower plant, shake the soil off the roots and hang upside down in a cool place. Spray them regularly with water.