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Growing Cauliflower (continued page 2)

Soil and Site for Cauliflower
All cauliflowers need a neutral or slightly alkaline soil to do well. If the soil is too acidic, the plants will be unable to obtain all the trace elements they need, and may develop whiptail.  On the other hand, soils which are too limey or chalky can lead to stunted and discoloured cauliflower. Leave at least six weeks between liming and manuring.  As with all brassicas, avoid using a plot on which a brassica crop was grown within the past two years.  Cauliflowers will definitely suffer if they are grown on the same plot for two or more years in a row. 

Summer Cauliflower
Summer cauliflower is grown quickly and requires an enormous supply of nutrients to make this rapid growth. The soil should be as rich as possible. Work on the permanent bed should be done in the autumn, so the soil has time to settle before spring planting. Dig the soil to a sufficient depth to take a good layer of manure or garden compost. About a week before planting summer cauliflower, apply a compound  of fertilizer at the rate of 120 g per sq m (4 oz per sq yd).  

The best site for planting summer cauliflowers varies according o the time of year. Early crops should have a site in full sun and one which is sheltered from winds.  It must not be in a frost pocket or low lying ground. It must also be well away from any overhanging tree or tall hedges, or the plants will be poor.

If you want cauliflower crops three or four weeks earlier, use a small poly-tunnel or cloche. Simply place the poly-tunnel in position two weeks before sowing (to warm up the soil), then sow the seed three or four weeks earlier than normal. Click here to buy a poly-tunnel or cloche from GardenAction's preferred online supplier.

Winter Cauliflower
Winter cauliflowers are much more tolerant of soil conditions, and will grow on most types of soil, as long as there is no water-logging.  Because they grow slowly over a longer period of time, and have to face winter conditions, the one thing you want to avoid is lush, rapid and therefore vulnerable growth. If plenty of manure has been dug in, there is no need for additional fertilizers, prior to planting out winter cauliflowers. They need a sheltered, rather than exposed site, and one with some protection from north and east winds.  They do better in sun rather than in the shade.

Sowing Cauliflower
Cauliflower varieties are divided into four groups, according to the time of harvesting, and the time of sowing is related to this. Seed packets have a date on them, do not sow earlier than this date or the plants may bolt. 

Group one contains the earliest summer cauliflowers, which are intended to be harvested in late spring and early summer.  They should be sown under glass in boxes from early autumn to mid-winter and will require a constant temperature of 10-16 degrees C(50-60 degrees F) while germinating, but while growing through the winter a lower temperature of 7-10 degrees C (45-45 degrees F) is sufficient.  They produce a minimum of small, light green leaves which give little protection to the curd.

Group two is made up of the second earlies, consisting of rather hardier varieties for harvesting in mid-summer. These should be sown in boxes, trays or pots under glass at the same time as group one  cauliflowers.  A second sowing may be made outdoors in early spring, although this should be protected by cloches against night frosts and chilly daytime weather.  The plants come to maturity a month or two later than those sown and brought on under glass.

Group three contains the maincrops, these are larger and hardier varieties of cauliflower, for harvesting from late summer to mid-autumn. Sow in an outdoor seed-bed in mid-spring, giving some protection against night frosts. Sow in drills 1.2 cm (half an inch) deep in rows22-30cm (9-12") apart, depending on the variety.

Group four Sown at the same time and in the same manner as those in group three, they come to maturity rather later and will tolerate a moderate amount of autumn frost. They have a compact high quality, uniform curds, protected by tightly in-curling leaves.




Name: Isiak Taiwo
Date posted: May 16, 2011 - 09:03 am
Message: How do I get the seeds of the following vegeatables and how much do they cost , you may also includ freight to Lagos, Nigeria;
6.Sweet corn
Thanks for treating this as very urgent:
Send reply to my box.

Isiaka Taiwo

Name: Bruno Chipondo
Date posted: November 17, 2010 - 04:24 am
Message: I am preparing to sow the seeds of cauliflower and broccoli. I will be able to share my experience as the plants grow. Thanks

Name: robert brotherton
Date posted: August 09, 2010 - 07:15 am
Message: can you send me photo of whip tail as not sure what it is

Name: mr robert brotherton
Date posted: August 09, 2010 - 07:10 am
Message: hy my cauliflower have long tails on them where the leaves normally are with not a lot heart in middle is this or not common thanks robert