I think all gardeners have masochistic tendencies. These tendencies may not be recognized by the gardeners in question: in point of fact, they may assume they have more of a will to dominate than a will to be subjected by said gardens. Illusions, I tell you. If you’re a gardener, you’re wearing a hairshirt. It just might not be terribly obvious to you.
Case in point: Cauliflower. Have you ever grown this one rather ubiquitous member of the brassica family? Have you ever grown it successfully, I mean? You know: having a more than a 75% harvest of your lovingly planted seedlings? I didn’t think so.
Cauliflower, you see, is the vegetable garden’s diva. Like all brassica seedlings, they are quite willing (eager, even) to pop out of their seed. But if something happens along the way (the 70-180 days of its growing season) then, pfft, you surely won’t be harvesting your whole crop, or any of your crop at all, come to think of it. Too hot? Sayonara. Too dry? Likewise. Is there a cabbage butterfly within a mile radius of your garden? That’s a guarantee she’ll find and lay eggs on your plants which will soon enough hatch into little green caterpillars doing their happy poopy dance, even if you’ve grown them under cover. And considering what space hogs these particular plants are, you might just want to give them a pass.
Crybabies they are. I think I harvested 5 out of something like 30 plants this year: these are not great odds. I tend to plant reliable (to me) open-pollinated varieties (Snowball above, Purple of Sicily, and romanesco). And I do pay attention to their particular needs (lots of water if it’s dry, lots of space, lots of compost) and I am still only rewarded with a few plants. Timing is pretty crucial too, did I mention that? Plant them too early and they come to flower in summer? THAT is one stink flower you shouldn’t even attempt to eat. They need the cool weather of fall to tame their wild tendencies (broccoli too) and in point of fact are a great fall crop…should you feel you wish to attempt it. Just realize fully and well that you’re in for a little…pain.