Sunday, March 24, 2013

1764 Cauliflower - Virginian John Randolph's 1727-1784 Treatise on Gardening 1764

A Treatise on Gardening Written by a native of this State (Virginia)
Author was John Randolph (1727-1784)
Written in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1765
Published by T. Nicolson, Richmond, Virginia. 1793
The only known copy of this booklet is found in the Special Collections of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.


Cauliflowers, must be sown critically to a day, or else there is no dependence on the success of them. I cannot, nor do I find any one else capable of assigning a good reason for this, but the experience of this country, as well as England, verifies the proposition. We must therefore receive this fact as we do many others, rest ourselves satisfied, that the thing certainly exists, though the mode of existence is an impenetrable secret to us. Miller says, that for spring Cauliflowers the seed should be sown on the 10th or 12th of August, but in Virginia, the 12th day of September is the proper time, which is much the same as in England, allowing for the difference of climate, the ratio of which ought to be a month sooner in the spring, and the same later in the fall; our summer months being so intensely hot in this place, they should continue until the 20th of October, where they are to remain all the winter protected from the inclemency of the weather, and towards the latter end of February, the plants should be drawn and planted in a good spot of ground for a erop, about three and a half feet asunder, Miller says; but I think six much better, on account of the earth it takes to hill them up when rampant. Gardeners are divided with regard to the manner of preserving them in winter, and after they are planted out in February. Glasses are generally mentioned in the books of gardening as most proper, but later experience seems to contradict this position, because they.make the plant spindle, which is to be feared and guarded against in Cauliflowers, as they have a natural tendency towards luxuriancy, and therefore it is said that boxes, pyramidically formed, answer the purpose much better, for they equally protect plants from frost, afford them full room to germinate, and at the same time do not draw them to such an inordinate length as glasses are too apt to do, even with the best management. In order to have.Cauliflowers in the fall, you should sow your seed on the 12th day of April, and transplant them into beds to restrain their growth, and in July fix them out to stand. As they grow they should be hilled up, otherwise when they head, the winds will be apt to injure them. A rich light soil is what they delight in most. Col. Turner, of King George, who was eminent for Cauliflowers, had a method peculiar to himself for some years of managing them, which succeeded beyond any other. He dug trenches about a foot and a half wide, quite down to the clay. With this he mixed with a spade some long dung, into which he put his plants about live feet asunder, when they were fit to be transplanted; and as they grew, hilled them up with the best mould. This method answered the purpose of transplantation, for the clay repressed the growth of the plant, and the warmth of the dung afforded them just heat enough to live, as they might without it perish for want of nourishment. I have myself found this method succeed best. Virgin mould is preferable to every other sort. The gardeners near London have wholly abandoned the practice of watering their Cauliflower plants in the summer, as a thing very injurious to them, and Mr. Miller coincides in opinion with them. Radishes or Spinach sown amongst the Cauliflowers, so as not to interfere with them, will preserve them from the fly, being a more agreeable food to that destructive animal., When your Cauliflowers begin to flower, the inner leaves should be broken over them, otherwise the sun will soil their snowy colour, and as they spread, the larger leaves,should be served in the same manner. Some pin the outer leaves with a stick, but this is a malpractice, because it often binds the flower, that it cannot grow to that size it otherwise might do. In November, when you have apprehensions as to the approach of intense frosts, take your Cauliflowers up by the roots in a morning, with as much mould as you can, and put them in the ground, in a hole dug about two feet below the surface, well sheltered by straw or thatching, as near one another as you please, and cut them as you have occasion. They may be preserved in this manner the greatest part of the winter, though they acquire an earthy taste from their confined situation. They are not so delicate in the winter or fall as they are in May, notwithstanding in May they are in the midst of other elegancies, and stand without any rival in the fall. That face must be fair indeed that shines amongst a multitude of beauties, which too often eclipse one another. When you meet with a Cauliflower whose curd is hard and white, and free from frothiness about the edges, let it stand for seed, and as the flower branches, remove the leaves fiom off it, and fix three pretty strong stalks at equal angles about it, surrounded with pack-thread, in order to support the branches, which might be otherwise broken by the wind. When the seed is ripe, cut the pods off and dry them, and rub them out as you do Cabbage seed. I have been told that seeds cannot be raised in this country, but I believe the contrary may be proved by a proper culture.