The 'Gennarese Giant of Naples' cauliflower is a popular open-pollinated heirloom, a typical variety from the South of Italy. The plants produce nice attractive, good tasting white heads that are medium sized. If left to mature they can weigh 1.6 to 1.8 kg.
It is one of the finest open-pollinated snowball-type varieties available and although they are fairly slow to mature, plants also tolerate cooler temperatures more than other varieties. The plants grow to a height of around 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) tall and as wide, but can be expected to grow large and leafy during a sufficiently long growing season,
The inflorescence are ivory white but will yellow if it not harvested at the right time if it ripens too much in the sun. When the small white developing head becomes visible through the leaves, gather the outer leaves over the head and tie, or clip together. This will protecting it from sun, blanch it and preserve its white colour. This results in a better quality head if maturing during hot weather. 'Giant of Naples' is hardy and can tolerate light frost, it can also be used for successional production all year but will need shade in the summer.
Varieties of cauliflowers can be distinguished based on the ripening period, colour and size of the inflorescence. As with a number of other Italian crops, cauliflower varieties can often be found called Early (precoce), Medium (medio) or Late (tardivo) maturing sub-types.
The main kind of 'Cauliflower Giant of Naples' is ready in autumn, but there are others that are harvested later and take their name from the harvesting month: Gennarese (January), Febbrarese (February), Marzatico (March) or Aprilatico (April) etc.
This variety Cauliflower 'Giant of Naples Gennarese' or 'Cavolfiore Napoletano Gennarese' indicates that it could be expected to be harvested in, or around January, but growth rates do vary according to the variety, size and weather conditions.
In Italy, this medium-sized variety is usually harvested from mid-November to mid-January. It is one of the principal ingredients of a rinforzo salad, one of the most ancient traditional Christmas recipes of Naples’ gastronomic tradition.
Prepare the site:
All brassica crops grow best in partial-shade, in firm, fertile, free-draining soil. Start digging over your soil in autumn, remove any stones you find and work in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Tread on the soil to remove any air pockets and make the surface very firm. Brassicas will fail if the soil is too acidic so add lime to the soil if necessary, aiming for a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
Cauliflower prefers deep, humus-rich soil with a good supply of water and high humidity. Prepare your soil by working into it organic matter such as compost, bark, wood ashes, and manure. Barnyard manures should be aged before adding to the garden. Rabbit and chicken manures are good ones to use. Cow manure is good but just don't overdo it, as the manure may cause a build up of salt in the soil. If your soil is acidic, it should be sweetened up by adding lime.
Generally, cauliflower seeds can be sown in January to February under glass, March to May directly outdoors, or September to October in coldframes to over winter. Seeds can be sown successionally at four weekly intervals so that you always have a fresh harvest.
Specifically, sowing times should vary depending on harvesting time (See ripening periods below): Sow summer cauliflowers in late winter to early spring. Sow autumn cauliflowers in mid- to late spring and sow winter cauliflowers in late spring to early summer.
Cauliflower Ripening Periods
- Extremely early varieties are harvested in the month of October.
- Early varieties are usually harvested between November and December.
- Winter varieties are picked in January-February.
- and the Late varieties are collected between March and May.
Nearly all brassicas should be planted in a seedbed or in modules under glass and then transferred. Seeds should be sown thinly, as this reduces the amount of future thinning necessary and potential risk from pests.
Sow seeds 1.25cm (½in) deep and rows should be spaced 15cm (6in) apart. Once the seeds have germinated, thin the seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) between each plant.
The seedlings are ready for transplanting when they are between 6 and 8cm high (2½ to 3in). Water the day before moving, and keep well-watered until established. Space individual cauliflower plants and rows as follows: 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) apart for summer and autumn varieties. 70cm (28in) apart for larger winter varieties and 15cm (6in) apart for mini-caulis
Plant only as deeply as the transplants are as they are removed from their containers. If you overcrowd cauliflower, they may not be able to reach their full potential. Provide two or three plants for each family member. As you plant, put about a cup of root stimulator mixture into each hole along with a teaspoon of bonemeal to get the plants off to a robust start with strong roots and stems. Mulch each plant to prevent soil erosion and to add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
The meat of the cauliflower heads are called curds. The curds may "yellow" if they receive too much sun, rain, or frost. Secure the plants' long leaves over the cauliflower heads to insure beautiful white heads.
Cauliflower needs rich soil and adequate moisture for peak production. Feed them with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser every two or three weeks until the point of production. Then feed them with a good water-soluble fertilizer. Keep the soil moist. Replace mulch as it deteriorates and pull weeds away from the plants.
Cauliflower varieties usually take three to six months from sowing to maturity, but growth rates vary according to the variety, size and weather conditions. Harvest cauliflowers as soon as the head is large enough, when still firm and compact. Don’t wait too long though – once it starts to separate, it’s past its best and will taste bitter. White varieties should be harvested before they turn yellow. Mini varieties can be harvested at tennis-ball size.
A row of cauliflowers may mature all at the same time, leading to a glut. So it’s best to start harvesting before they reach full size, to spread the crop over a longer period. Harvesting cauliflower is straightforward, cut the stem at the base with a clean sharp knife, taking the head and a few of the leaves beneath it, to protect the curd.
Varieties with orange, purple or green heads generally keep their colour when cooked, although boiling can fade purple heads.
Cauliflower can be stored by freezing. Separate the florets, wash them well, and put them into boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water, then put them into ice water for a few minutes. Drain them well and put them into freezer containers and into the freezer.
Cauliflower is a variety of the common cabbage in which flowers have begun to form, but have stopped growing at the bud stage. The same applies to broccoli. The thick stems under the buds act as storage organs for nutrients, which would have gone into the flowers and eventual fruits had their development not been aborted. All these types are therefore richer in vitamins and minerals than other brassicas.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, cauliflower is rich in precious nutrients, including minerals, folic acid and vitamin C. In addition to keeping the heart rate and blood pressure at bay, cauliflower stimulates the thyroid, treats ulcerative colitis and is a perfect health ally to fight the ailments of the cold season. Their consumption also allows to regulate blood sugar levels, which makes cauliflower suitable for people with diabetes
Good companions: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Onions, Garlic, Beetroot, Chards.
Bad companions: Don't plant cauliflower near strawberries or tomatoes - it doesn't like either.
Plant celery near to cauliflower to repel the white cabbage butterfly.
Rotate your crops, planting brassicas, of any kinds, in the same ground more often than once every four years runs the risk of club root infestation and once you have it, the ground is useless for up to a decade. Don't take needless chances, even with 'catch crops' of radishes.
Cauliflower originated in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, the earliest record indicates that it was known since 600 B.C.
The cauliflower is a vegetable that comes from the Middle East that was brought a long time ago to Italy. There is many evidence that confirms that the Romans ate it regularly before banquets to better absorb alcohol and enjoyed it in a variety of recipes.
Some time in the past thousand years, the preference developed in southern Europe for eating the immature flower buds of the cabbage plants. Selection pressure favouring production of plants with large tender flowering heads was imposed by some growers. By the 15th century, the modern vegetable we know as cauliflower had developed and about a hundred years later, broccoli had been generated in Italy.
The cauliflower plant was named by botanists as Brassica oleracea variety botrytis, with the last part of the name referring to the fact that a cauliflower curd is was thought to resemble a bunch of grapes. The Latin genus name Brassica derives from the Celtic ‘bresic’.
The species oleracea refers to a vegetable garden herb that is used in cooking, while botrytis is a Greek word meaning ‘clusterlike’ or ‘grapelike’.
The English word cauliflower comes from the Latin words caulis , meaning ‘stem’ or ‘cabbage’, and flos meaning ‘flower’. In Italian, Cavolfiore simply means 'Cabbage flower'.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2.5 grams Average Seed Count 550 Seeds Seed Form Natural, Open Pollinated. Seeds per gram 550 seeds per gram Common Name Napoletano Gennarese
Heritage (Italy 1890's)
Other Language Names It: Cavolfiore Napoletano Gennarese Family Brassicaceae Genus oleraceae Species var. botrytis Cultivar Gennarese Giant of Naples Season Winter season. 210 relative days to maturity. Time to Sow Jan-Feb under glass. March-May outdoors and Sept-Oct in coldframes to over winter. Harvest If left to mature the large heads can weigh 1.6 to 1.8 kg.