How To Grow Cauliflowers

cauliflower florets

Cauliflowers are grown much like broccoli and other brassicas, but are the trickiest to grow successfully. Here’s how.

Preparing For Planting

Cauliflowers grow best in well-drained, fertile soil that has had plenty of well rotted manure dug into it well in advance – ideally in the previous year. They won’t do well in shallow or sandy soil, so ensure you either improve yours radically or build raised beds. Ensure they’re in a sheltered spot, too.
To avoid disease, it’s best not to grow brassicas in the same soil more often than once every three years – so plan ahead to put something else in your cauliflower plot for the next two years to come.

cauliflower

Sowing And Planting Cauliflower

There are three different varieties of cauliflower: summer; autumn/winter and mini. Ideally, start them off in a seedbed or deep tray first, sowing them about 15cm apart and about 2.5cm deep. Summer cauliflower needs to be sown in October to February (under glass); autumn/winter varieties in March to June (under glass), and mini cauliflower in their permanent bed in March to May.
When they are around 10cm tall and with three or four leaves, transplant them to their main bed – between Feb and May for summer cauliflower, and between May and July for autumn/winter cauliflower.

For more on sowing and planting out vegetables, check out our guide.

Caring For Cauliflower

In the growing season, it’s a good idea to give them a liquid feed to promote growth. You’ll need to keep the plants well watered then, too, and look out for weeds and pests, such as aphids, slugs and snails. Take care not to over-expose the cauliflower’s curd to sunlight – snap some of the outer leaves to shade it if necessary.

Harvesting Cauliflower

Cauliflowers can be harvested when the curds are developed, but before they begin to open out and divide. This is between June and August for summer caulis; from September onwards for autumn/winter varieities, and from July onwards for minis.

For more on harvesting vegetables, check out our guide.

Varieties Of Cauliflower

Cauliflowers come in summer, autumn/winter and mini varieties, and in white green and purple. Here’s our pick of the best.

Summer
These grow very quickly and have smaller heads than later ones.

Dominant
Fairly tolerant of drier conditions, it can also be used for minis. Harvest late June and July.

Plana F1
Quick growing, this cauli has deep, heavy heads that can be harvested in August.

Violet Queen
This variety has deep purple heads which turn green when cooked.

Autumn/Winter
Winter varieties are not-frost hardy and should be protected when the weather gets colder.

Barrier Reef
This vigorous grower has large white heads that can be harvested in October.

Walcheren Winter Selections
These hardy varieties have firm white heads and can be harvested from spring onwards.

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