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paul wheaton
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This video came out today. It shows organic monocrop production of cauliflower. I thought it would be good to have a thread about permaculture cauliflower product by talking about what we would embrace from this video and what we would do different.

 
Scott Strough
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Right from the start you see some good things here. The alyssum is great companion crop for cauliflower. But I like to plant it interspersed in the rows. Also the predators being released is good, but permies would grow their own instead of needing to import them in. Next is the bare soil. Big problem there. Between the rows should be a living mulch of perennial grasses and forbs. Then instead of the plow and the cultivator you would use a mower. In the rows themselves, a thick mat of mulch for weed control of plants that because of their position can't be easily mowed. Then instead of using guano to restore and maintain fertility in the whole field, you would use it only in the holes the transplants are being planted in. MUCH lower inputs of outside ferts. Finally I would break up the whole thing into sections so that a section of cauliflower would stand next to a section of tomatoes, and beside that maybe peppers, and so on...... In some cases even a single row might have many crop species. You could still mechanise the system, but instead of that style planter making a trench to set the seedlings, you would need an auger style planter to make holes for each seedling similar to the bulb planting machines in commercial tulip production. Do all that and the cost of production would actually end up lower than conventional, require a tenth or less water, yet still produce as much or more and still command the premium prices that organic food gets. That would mean big profits to the farmer.
 
Leslie Zingarelli
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Warning, I live in the bay area, and lived not far from Watsonville, in the 80's and 90's. Strike one: vast fields of annuals as a mono crop. This farm may be non-chemical, but the interpretation of organic seems quite loose. Please grow things that want to grow in this environment, that have low water demands. Many brassicas do well in the Mediterranean climate, but need heavy support, and are very prone to pests. (Vast mono-brussel sprouts grow all along our coast) Strike two: GUANO FROM PERU?? Are you shi**ng me? There must be a closer source from shore birds or animals in California? North America at least? I think Peru can make good use of it; I find that obscene, frankly. A small border of alyssum is lovely around the edges, but serves no purpose for the rest of the acreage. Strike Three get out from under the fossil fuel: those fields are dirt, not soil. I counted 1 disc harrow pass, one fertilizer pass, one pass with the mechanized plug-setter thingy (cool thingy tho!), absurd mid-day water drenchings, in a drought prone area that has zero water of its own, going high up into the hot sun of broad day. More mechanical fossil fuels burned, to harvest, package, cool store and ship to kingdom come. Tree collards are perennial, drought tough, and tall enough to provide shade that would create a cooler environment underneath for other support species such as cauliflower, spinach and chard, even beets. Inter-plant or "overwinter" (I bet those fields are always in production) with nitrogen fixing legumes. High growing date palms interspersed for additional yield are also drought tolerant once established, and produce for many years. Olives, even to get some trees in the picture. Then I would add allium root crops, borage, clover, chamomile ground covers. Spray it with worm tea, NOT soap. Mulch with compost. Where are the swales? What water management is in place? The Santa Cruz mountain range is right there, to the east, so slow, soak and recharge the water coming down from the mountains and develope good water management tools. Repeat throughout all of California.
 
Leslie Zingarelli
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And please find a food bank to donate all that excess thereby becoming part of the solution, while transition is made.
 
Burra Maluca
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One thing a permaculturist might consider, especially for growing on a domestic rather than industrial scale, is growing a different kind of cauliflower.

This one is nine-star perennial, which lives for around three years and produces several small, yellowy heads every year instead of one big one.


photo from Suttons seeds, who are sold out unfortunately...

For some reason it tends to be called 'nine star perennial broccoli' even though the curds are white, not green.
 
matt hogan
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Some things they're doing right:
1. Manure. If you're going to truck in fertilizer from a gazillion miles away, at least it's not petroleum based.
2. Polyculture. Yes, it's very little and not mixed enough, but it's a hundred times better than what most farmers are doing.
3. Pest control. Predatory insects and soap are waaaaay better than pesticides. Granted, I would rather see them attract the predatory insects naturally and I could do without the soap, but still.
4. They do grow some very pretty cauliflower.

What they could do better:
A. Get that poor girl a hat or sunglasses.
B. I like to think that the way to do it is to be a farmer. Not a cauliflower farmer or a cattle farmer or a bee farmer. Just a plain old farmer with a lot of different plants and animals. If you think of yourself that way, polycultures and stacking functions is going to come more naturally.
C. Everything everyone else already said.

Burra, that cauliflower looks awesome! It reminds me of the wild broccoli that grows around here (and i grew up eating), which makes me think it will likely be more vigorous and easier to grow.

 
Leila Rich
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Burra Maluca wrote:One thing a permaculturist might consider, especially for growing on a domestic rather than industrial scale, is growing a different kind of cauliflower(...)
it tends to be called 'nine star perennial broccoli' even though the curds are white, not green.

Romanesco broccoli is another 'broccoli' that's actually a cauliflower- it's psychedelic lime green.
And I can actually grow it, as opposed to 'proper' cauliflower
 
Scott Strough
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Here is the next step closer to Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming, but with a few compromises due to difficult growing conditions.





As you can see Helen took the best from permaculture principles and managed to incorporate them into a more standard organic production system. I do a similar thing, but took a little bit closer by using mulch instead of plastic and perennial instead of planted living mulches.
 
Mountain Krauss
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My favorite way to eat cauliflower is the way the video showed, baked with olive oil (or bacon fat). But it's actually good if you boil it & it turns to mush. Just treat it like mashed potatoes (which, to me, means lots of butter & garlic), and it's surprisingly good.
 
Landor LeBaron
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Yeah. Anything goes.
If you say, "cauliflower," I will chew.

"What we throw away in California for cosmetic reasons could end world hunger."
Yuuh a long time ago I worked in a grocery store produce department and we threw away tons more there.

I'm watching them cutting off all those great leaves, freaking out. I WANT 'EM!
 
Frank Brentwood
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Landor LeBaron wrote:"What we throw away in California for cosmetic reasons could end world hunger."


That was the thing that ticked me off the most. The obsession with "pretty food" that tastes like dishwater (and has about the same nutritional value) is killing the planet and everything that lives on it.

And, sure, let's import a gazillion beneficial insects to act as predators and then hose them down with the same insecticidal soap that we use to get rid of the "pests". BRILLIANT!!! (Not :/ )


Favorite way to eat cauliflower:

1) Steam a whole head until almost tender.
2) Cover with sliced or shredded cheese (I prefer a nutty Swiss like Jarlsberg).
3) Place under broiler just long enough to melt/slightly brown the cheese.
4) Cut into quarters & serve with a tasty beverage!
 
raven ranson
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I'm bumping this thread up.

The last time I went to the store, Cauliflower was $9.50 a head. That's crazy! It's normally only a dollar or two, but what's more crazy is that locally, it is the perfect time to harvest cauliflower. The stores should be overflowing with the stuff. Instead, we import it from the Southern Hemisphere because California has a shorter supply than normal. Why we don't grow it ourselves, I have no idea.

That's the complaining over with.

Here's my solution: I'm going to grow my own. I shall become the Cauliflower Baron(ess). My garden shall overflow with the white florets (and purple and green). Next winter, when the price of a bashed up slimy head of cauliflower costs ten bucks in the store, the peasants shall flock to my farm for fresh cauliflower which I shall lovingly pick and sell at a far more reasonable price. And all shall rejoice for they now have nice cauliflower to eat.

Of course, I have to learn to grow the stuff first. But a gal can dream.

Still reading through this thread, but the first problem challenge I foresee with growing the stuff is dealing with the cabbage moth. What are the home grown, chemical free solutions to these pesky green 'worms'? What other pests might cause me concern and what are their solutions?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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R Ranson wrote:Still reading through this thread, but the first problem challenge I foresee with growing the stuff is dealing with the cabbage moth. What are the home grown, chemical free solutions to these pesky green 'worms'? What other pests might cause me concern and what are their solutions?
Quail.

Build a quail aviary and grow the crop in there [keeping the quail out during the first week or two of seedling growth (or do transplants instead.)] You'll be turning moths and larvae into quail eggs and quail meat.
 
Rebecca Norman
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R Ranson wrote:The last time I went to the store, Cauliflower was $9.50 a head.


If that happened in India, the government would be toppled! (Seriously, you should have seen the onion crisis a few years ago!)
 
Simone Gar
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R Ranson wrote:I'm bumping this thread up.

The last time I went to the store, Cauliflower was $9.50 a head. That's crazy! It's normally only a dollar or two, but what's more crazy is that locally, it is the perfect time to harvest cauliflower. The stores should be overflowing with the stuff. Instead, we import it from the Southern Hemisphere because California has a shorter supply than normal. Why we don't grow it ourselves, I have no idea.

That's the complaining over with.

Here's my solution: I'm going to grow my own. I shall become the Cauliflower Baron(ess). My garden shall overflow with the white florets (and purple and green). Next winter, when the price of a bashed up slimy head of cauliflower costs ten bucks in the store, the peasants shall flock to my farm for fresh cauliflower which I shall lovingly pick and sell at a far more reasonable price. And all shall rejoice for they now have nice cauliflower to eat.

Of course, I have to learn to grow the stuff first. But a gal can dream.

Still reading through this thread, but the first problem challenge I foresee with growing the stuff is dealing with the cabbage moth. What are the home grown, chemical free solutions to these pesky green 'worms'? What other pests might cause me concern and what are their solutions?


I am right with you on this! First of all Florida which get's their cauliflower from California too only pays $2 or so and second of all, it grows in Canada just fine!!! Wtf?

I came to the same solution and already have friends begging to grow more so they can buy from me. Totally going to do this. Not stealing your cauliflower baroness title but growing plus overproduction goes up for sale.

I am more worried about deer than cabbage moth but probably because the few times I tried brusselsprouts and other cabbages I didn't get to the moth stage before the deer stage hit. Not saying I am not interested to hear about defending c. from moths... anybody have deer tips apart from electric fence?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Venison usually works pretty well. Tastes great too.
 
Simone Gar
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Venison usually works pretty well. Tastes great too.


Yeah growing season is a little longer than hunting season though. Even in Canada
 
raven ranson
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I don't know if it will work for deer, but it works against llamas.

We made a pipe frame closh, very much like this one here:


picture borrowed from this site

Only we use all plastic piping to reduce the weight and because those were the materials we had on hand.

The important thing is that it is lightweight enough that we can lift up one side of the frame and roll it out of the way while working on the garden bed. It restricts the size of the garden bed, but is excellent for raised beds.

We cover the frame with wire, sometimes chicken wire, but more often hardware cloth because it's cheaper.

The llama can't get at the delicious kale and their other favourite foods. I'm guessing dear wouldn't either.


The 8 foot game fence around the property stops the deer from entering. Sure, they can easily jump over a fence 10 foot high, but they don't jump over our fence. They have to be able to see it to jump over it. We put NO ribbons or bells on it, rather relying on invisibility. The deer jumps what they think is over the fence, only to jump into the fence, which then acts like a catapult and flings them back away from the property. It's super-funny to watch. It has enough force to teach the deer not to try again, but not enough to hurt it.

Edit: If I missed any more of these dear/deer mistakes, just assume I wrote the right one. Dyslexia + spell check = interesting
 
Simone Gar
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R Ranson wrote:
The 8 foot game fence around the property stops the deer from entering. Sure, they can easily jump over a fence 10 foot high, but they don't jump over our fence. They have to be able to see it to jump over it. We put NO ribbons or bells on it, rather relying on invisibility. The deer jumps what they think is over the fence, only to jump into the fence, which then acts like a catapult and flings them back away from the property. It's super-funny to watch. It has enough force to teach the deer not to try again, but not enough to hurt it.

Edit: If I missed any more of these dear/deer mistakes, just assume I wrote the right one. Dyslexia + spell check = interesting


haha 8 foot fence and a trail cam Sounds like a plan.

Actually reminds me that I recently read something about hi-vis orange. Somebody used stakes around trees where the tips are sprayed in that orange and they don't go there. I was planning on picking up some surveyor flags in orange (cheap and they move in the wind) and test that.

I like the frame too but I am not sure if I can cover that much (I grow a lot).
 
raven ranson
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I know things are different in other parts of the world... so take what I say next with a grain of salt.

It seems that flappy orange tape works as a deer attractor.

A bit like bear bells in the forest. The theory is that bears are scared of the new noise and will run away. They now STRONGLY suggest that hikers and campers avoid all bells. The bears learned that these bells mean that there is free food near by so let's scare off the silly humans and eat their toothpaste (black bears love toothpaste).

I think, around here anyway, that hanging bells and flappy tape on the fence doesn't scare the deer anymore. They seem to get the idea that if there is flappy tape, then there must be awesome yumminess on the other side of that fence. It sure was nice of those humans to show us how tall the fence is with their markers, now we have a visual judge of (at least) the exact location and (sometimes) height.

Sometimes I talk with other local farmers and of course, the deer problem comes up. What deer problem, we say. They assume we are joking. more talking. They describe their fence and other control methods - which involves a wire fence decorated with a lot of surveyors tape and cougar pee, and other creative stuff. We tell them about our quick (for a fence) to put up T post and game fence. They tell us it will never work without bells and ribbons. We reply that we haven't had a deer in farm in the 6 years since we put it up... They mumble something about stupid and snobbish and we don't usually get to talk to them again.

It's not really snobbish, at least I don't think so. We are simple people, so we imagine what it's like to be a deer. We came up with this idea. The stupid thing they mumbled is probably correct. My brain is defective. The doctor says so. They have normal brains, that's why the other farmers don't spend a day trying to think like a deer.

I think the deer have told the other deer about the invisible barrier. We haven't seen a deer try to jump our fence in the last two years. I have however seen lots of deer in these other farmer's fenced fields, despite the all the orange ribbon.


But that's my experience. Don't take it as gospel. The orange tape thing must work because there are so many people in books and online who say it does. I think our deer simply a bit different due to Island living. All that inbreeding might have made them colour blind to orange. It's a theory.


Oops, got off topic.

Bringing it back to cauliflower.

So far my list of probable pests includes:

llamas (solution = physical barrier)
cabbage moth (solution = don't know yet. Love the quail idea, but don't think it's going to happen)
aphids (solution = soil?)

For aphid control, I usually add lime to the soil at planting time. This gives the plant something to keep it strong and tasting bad to aphids. Do you think it would work for cauliflower? How about wood ash instead?
 
Su Ba
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Aphids - if you only have a few plants and you have a hose with good water pressure, you could use a sharp spray of water to physically wash the aphids off the plants. I haven't tried this because I don't have a hose with any decent water pressure in the gardens. So I don't know how frequently you would have to wash away aphids. What I do is spray aphids with safer soap or a soapy solution. It's is very effective against aphids.

Cabbage worms - if you only have a few plants, you could build a screen box to put over the plants, thus physically keeping the cabbage moth from laying its eggs on the plants. I have large beds of susceptible plants, so the screen box idea doesn't work for me. So I use dipel (bt) spray. It is very effective on killing the caterpillars. I use it against other caterpillar problems too. My only problem is during the rainy times when I get a light rain very evening. It means that I have to re-apply the dipel.
 
Simone Gar
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Good to know R Ranson. I figured it's cheap and I try but you are probably right. They get used to everything.

Su Ba, I don't think this works. I tried and aphids are just nasty. They stick more than you think and they come back in a flash. Last year I had good success with sacrificial plants and an army of lady bugs that decided to make our place their home. I had lost all my dill and some of my white yarrow but everything else was not covered in aphids. I call that a major win (I would still like some dill though...)
 
raven ranson
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Simone Gar wrote:Good to know R Ranson. I figured it's cheap and I try but you are probably right. They get used to everything.


It is the most affordable solution, so it wouldn't hurt to try it. Other people seem to find it works. I think our deer are just defective.


Simone Gar wrote:Su Ba, I don't think this works. I tried and aphids are just nasty. They stick more than you think and they come back in a flash. Last year I had good success with sacrificial plants and an army of lady bugs that decided to make our place their home. I had lost all my dill and some of my white yarrow but everything else was not covered in aphids. I call that a major win (I would still like some dill though...)


I don't have water pressure, or much water in the summer, so I'll need to look for an alternative to spraying the plants to dislodge the aphids.

Sacrificial plants are high on our list of wanting to try this year. So Dill's a good one. I love dill. Do you think fennel would work as well. I have some seed on hand.

What other sacrificial plants can you guys suggest?

I was thinking of a combination of several different plants. Some sacrificial, some bug attracting, and some to break up the bug/diseases, so that the cauliflower only happens every 4th row.



And then there is my next question - saving cauliflower seeds. Anyone try that yet? I'll be looking it up in seed to seed later on, but in the mean time, any tips or tricks?
 
Simone Gar
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R Ranson wrote:
Simone Gar wrote:
Sacrificial plants are high on our list of wanting to try this year. So Dill's a good one. I love dill. Do you think fennel would work as well. I have some seed on hand.

What other sacrificial plants can you guys suggest?

I was thinking of a combination of several different plants. Some sacrificial, some bug attracting, and some to break up the bug/diseases, so that the cauliflower only happens every 4th row.

And then there is my next question - saving cauliflower seeds. Anyone try that yet? I'll be looking it up in seed to seed later on, but in the mean time, any tips or tricks?


Fennel probably too. I don't really know what they like but in my observation it's anything fine leaved (dill) or small flower clusters (yarrow, sedum etc.) Might be worth investgating. They do like parsley and chives but I found with the dill close by they didn't go for it last summer. That's why I came up with the apparently preference in skinny leaves and small flowers. I have a massive mix of flowers now due to my flower business and the lady bugs were all over them. They didn't seem to be too interested in the herbs, they were there but the vast majority was on flowers. Cosmos for sure and also Nigella/Love-in-a-mist. Both have fern like leaves like dill so I am thinking the lady bugs were just eating a ton as they didn't seem to be affected by aphids.

I also added a bunch of wood chips and shavings as aphids and bacterial soils apparently go together. So I am trying to create a more fungal enviroment. I have only read/heard that so can't really confirm it.

Anyways, I will keep planting dill and probably not eating any. I also re-plant more or less all the annuals that I had and increase my perennial numbers. After another growing season I should know if there is a confirmed pattern.
 
raven ranson
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Great info, thanks Simone.

Fennel, dill, nigella. All seeds I can buy in the bulk bin of the grocery store. I wonder what other grocery store seeds would work.
 
Simone Gar
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R Ranson wrote:Great info, thanks Simone.

Fennel, dill, nigella. All seeds I can buy in the bulk bin of the grocery store. I wonder what other grocery store seeds would work.


We really have a similar approach to all kinds of things!
I use bulk barn/supermarket bulk section seeds a lot. They all work
That's where I get my buckwheat, millet, flax, sunflower seeds, etc too
 
raven ranson
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My cauliflower stats are ready to go in the ground. Already the area is swarming with. Cabbage moth

Time to plant some fennel and nigella.
 
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