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We're trying to grow cauliflower. Directions tell us heads must be blanched. In our dictionary ''to blanch'' means ''to make white or pale.'' In our cookbook ''blanching'' means cooking a minute or so when preparing vegetables for the freezer. How does one make a cauliflower head white while it is growing in the garden?

You have a good point. We were all beginners once and needed these things explained.

To blanch cauliflower, pull leaves up around the head and tie (a soft strip of rag will do) so that the sun cannot reach it, causing it to remain white.

There is a variety called Self Blanche, with leaves that curl naturally up around the head. There is also a Royal Purple, attractive and delicious, needing no blanching. Purple color changes to bright green when cooked.

I read somewhere that sprouted water hyacinths placed in jars of water help roots to form on cuttings of other plants. I've tried in vain to locate this plant in nursery catalogs. Can you suggest a source?

Water hyacinth (Eichornea crassipes) is an undesirable aquatic plant that made its way to southern waterways of the United States from South America. It is so aggressive in southern areas that it clogs navigable water routes; and it grows so rampant it endangers other plant species and aquatic animals.

Although it does aid cuttings, an escaped root can cause much damage.

We suggest you use willow twigs, which are easily rooted in water, as a substitute. Coleus also stimulates rooting. Apparently these produce a hormone conducive to root formation. Rooting powders are available in garden stores.

Friends served pokeweed at an informal gathering and it was so delicious everyone wanted to know where they could get seeds to start some in their own yards. They said it is usually referred to as ''poke sallat'' and might be listed as such. The spears they harvest are about 6 inches long and taste somewhat like asparagus. In fact, they used a similar sauce on them.

Although pokeweed grows in an area from the East Coast as far west as Iowa and Texas, we know of no company that offers seeds. We are fortunate to have pokeweed and have shared seeds from the berries and cut sections of roots. Birds love them and have sowed them profusely. Humans should not eat roots or berries. They grow about 6 to 8 feet tall, and quite sprawly. Interestingly, the Declaration of Independence was signed with ink made from pokeweed. Perhaps your friend would give you a few ripe berries in late fall so you can plant the seeds in spring. It will be two years before you can harvest any shoots, but thereafter you'll have an abundance.

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