Bright Days for Cauliflower Lovers

A new cauliflower hybrid named Citrus is not only orange but packs 25 times the vitamin A of its white-headed forefather.

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Reach for the sunglasses: Cauliflower has gone orange.

A new cauliflower hybrid named Citrus is not only orange but packs 25 times the vitamin A of its white-headed forefather.

Actually, it appears more yellowish-orange than orange, but it's a garden freak either way. Supposedly it also fares better with warm temperatures, normally the kiss of death for white cauliflower.

Since we weren't eating the recommended daily servings of vegetables anyway, hybridizers have been altering nature's color palette. Even dedicated cauliflower haters might find the orange version tastier.

Restaurant chefs love the injection of color, and home gardeners can't resist something new and bright for the vegetable plot. Plants that are both edible and ornamental are valuable additions to the space-crunched garden areas of today's new-home developments.

Bright Lights, a Swiss chard with yellow, red, white and magenta stalks, was a huge marketing success after it earned prestigious All-American Selection honors in 1998. The rainbow-colored vegetable became irresistible and is often grown strictly as an ornamental.

The recent rebirth of interest in colorful heirloom tomatoes and the ongoing love affair with multi-colored hybrid sweet pepper varieties has been fueled in part because they taste good.

Crucifers, such as cauliflower and broccoli, have been more avoided than ingested. Adding color to its low-carb reputation may yet elevate cauliflower's popularity.

Johnny's Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine, quickly sold out of a limited supply of Citrus cauliflower this spring. However, it also sells purple cauliflower (Graffiti) and a purple "broccoflower" named Violet Queen. Broccoflower is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.

Green, the color of broccoli, is also the color of cauliflower varieties Panther and Tower. Tower, a lime green, also has sold out at Johnny's Selected Seeds.

A purple variety of asparagus called Purple Passion is another on the color chart at Johnny's. The spears are purple in the garden. Once cooked, they turn traditional green. Johnny's also sells Kinbi, a yellow carrot.

Orange Sunshine, a watermelon with orange flesh, and Sweet Sunshine, a bright yellow carrot, are both being offered in this year's Burpee catalog. Park Seed Co. is selling an ornamental corn called Earth Tones. Ears are a rainbow of color, blue, pink, green, yellow, lavender and rose.

Today there's no excuse for a dull vegetable garden.

On the web:

  • Johnny's Selected Seeds: www.johnnyseeds.com
  • Burpee: www.burpee.com
  • Park Seeds: www.parkseed.com

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