Helen chesnut seed in the summer for cauliflower to overwinter nutrition facts granny smith apple

Cauliflower for overwintering is seeded in summer for plants sized up enough to go through the winter and yield heads to harvest in late winter or spring. A mid- to late-june indoor seeding and late-july or early-august transplanting work well in most garden conditions.

A mid-june indoor seeding worked perfectly in my garden this year. Just before the freezing weather in february, I covered the plants with several layers of old floating row cover. When I uncovered them, one of the plants had a half-formed head, which I harvested at the beginning of march. The variety is purple cape (salt spring seeds), the one I have found to be earliest to produce. The heads are a beautiful purple-violet, and tasty raw or cooked.

Dear helen: we have an apple tree that produces fruit with small brown marks on the skin. Limited areas of flesh beneath the spots are spoiled.

Small, brown, dry spots with spongy areas underneath indicate a condition called bitter pit, caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit.Dear helen

This does not necessarily mean there is a deficiency of calcium in the soil. In a hot, dry summer, the soil may become lacking in the moisture necessary for transporting calcium into the tree.

Lime the ground underneath and around the tree, and water regularly during dry summer weather. Because large apples tend to be more affected by bitter pit, take care not to thin the fruit excessively and avoid over-fertilizing with nitrogen.

Dear helen: why would a bartlett pear, trained espalier fashion with two parallel, horizontal branches on either side of an upright trunk, flower and bear fruit mainly at the branch tips rather than on spurs along the branches?

Some varieties of both pear and apple tend to produce “blind” (unproductive) wood along the branch length nearest the trunk, especially when trained on the horizontal.

Some trials have shown that bartlett pears in particular are most productive when the branches are trained as close as possible to a 45-degree angle rather than the horizontal 90 degrees from the trunk.Either side

That angle preference would indicate that some trained trees will bloom and fruit at the most optimum levels when trained fan fashion, with the branches arranged at several levels off the trunk on either side at 45-degree angles.

Dear helen: we have six large pails of wood ashes from our fireplace. Can they be used in the garden? Would they have an acid or alkaline reaction in the soil?

Wood ashes can be used selectively on garden soils and in compost heaps, but very sparingly. They are highly alkaline and fast-acting, and a source mainly of potassium with some phosphorus. Do not use wood ashes where acid-loving plants are growing. Ashes spread under blue-flowering hydrangeas will turn the flowers a muddy pink.

I always keep several pails of wood ashes in reserve to spread over icy driveways and path areas in winter. They were a great help on my sloping driveway (turned skating rink) at christmas time.Dear helen garden events

Heather sale. The vancouver island heather society is holding its annual sale on saturday, from 10 a.M. To noon or until all the plants are sold. Featured will be many unusual varieties, starter kits, mountain heather (cassiope) and "gardengirls" — bud bloomers and those with colourful foliage among the callunas. Cash or cheque only. The sale is in the stu armour building at cobble hill fairground on fisher road. Information at 250-746-1994 or bcheathersociety.Org.

Seedy in campbell river. Campbell river’s seedy saturday will take place on march 24, from 9 a.M. To 12 p.M. In the campbell river community centre, 401 – 11th ave. Featured will be a seed swap, plant sale, a children’s corner, vendors and demonstrations. Admission is free.