Cauliflower Snowball is a superb heritage variety, first bred in America in the 1890's there probably still isn't a better cauliflower to grow in the garden. The pure white, snowball-sized heads can be harvested when small, 5cm (2in) or left to mature to 15cm (6in), they can also be forced.
This easy maintenance variety is very suitable for the home gardener, the dwarf and compact plants can be set closer than others. Vigorous, early and reliable, the plants mature uniformly and have good leaf coverage. Though strictly speaking described as an early cauliflower, Snowball is in fact far more versatile than that, similar to 'All Year Round', it can be used for successional production all year. Early to mid-season and 65 to 70 days to harvest. The flower spirals form a Fibonacci sequence.
With a mild flavour, Snowball is an excellent keeper and suitable for eating either fresh in salads and snacks, or for use cooked: soups, steaming or stir-frying. It is also good for canning and freezing.
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.
Specifically, sowing times should vary depending on harvesting time: 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.
Seeds can be sown successionally at four weekly intervals so that you always have a fresh harvest.
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 fertilizer 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.
Dean’s early snowball is said to be the oldest of the white snowball type varieties, Introduced by Mr A. Dean to England in 1876 from Denmark where it was largely cultivated. Snowball was originally a strain of Early Erfurt. According to Mr Dean: “The snowball may be told by one unfailing test, when the heads begin to burst into flower, they become suffused with a pretty purple tint”. Today it is still a favourite, and parent to many strains of the original Snowball variety grown for the market.
Stout and productive, Snowball has been a reliable favourite for well over a century. As it rarely grows much higher than 30cm (12in) it is ideal for growing on smaller plots, and its compact snow-white heads can be harvested earlier than almost any other variety. It is good for freezing too.
Snowball was originally known as 'Dwarf Erfurt', and was probably a selected form of a much older German variety. Erfurt cauliflowers were said to have originated in the Thuringian town of Erfurt, famous from medieval times for the quality of its woad and the extent of its market gardens. They were particularly hardy, with shorter leaves and smaller heads than other kinds, which made them particularly valuable in the development of dwarf varieties.
Snowballs reputation proceeded it across the Atlantic, and it was introduced to the American market in 1888 by the famous New York firm of Peter Henderson.
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’
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2.5 grams Average Seed Count 550 Seeds Common Name Early Cauliflower.
Family Brassicaceae Genus oleraceae Species var. botrytis Cultivar Snowball Synonym Baby Cauliflower, Mini Cauliflower Season Snowball can be used for successional production all year Time to Sow Jan-Feb under glass. March-May outdoors and Sept-Oct in coldframes to over winter. Harvest Snowball can be harvested when small, 5cm (2in) or left to mature to 15cm (6in) Time to Harvest 65 to 75 days to mature.