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Growing Cauliflower (continued page 3)

Care of Cauliflower
The secret of success with summer cauliflowers is rapid and continuous growth. From transplanting time onwards they need copious watering, if checked at any time, they are liable to form very small heads. Even though the soil may have been very rich as a result of its preparation, it can do with even more feeding.  

Mulch the soil around the plants with rotted manure or garden compost three weeks after planting, drenching it with water afterwards.  When the curds have started to form, give the plants a top dressing of nitrate of soda.  Winter cauliflowers have the hazard of too much water to contend with in the winter, as well as too little in the summer. Earth up the soil in early to mid-autumn to form a continuous low ridge.  This ensure that the excess water drains away from the stem.  It also helps to strengthen the plants against the winter winds.  It is not necessary to feed winter cauliflower during the early part of their life, in summer or autumn.

Harvesting and Aftercare of Cauliflower
A cauliflower is ready for cutting when the upper surface of the curd is fully exposed and the inner leaves no longer cover it.  Unfortunately, cauliflowers tend to mature all at once.  If the weather is warm and you leave the cauliflowers in the ground once they have matured, the heads expand and they become discoloured and less appealing. To avoid this lift some early, they will be quite edible. Alternatively, gather up the leaves and tie them together over the curd so that they cover it, using garden twine, an elastic band or raffia.  It will also protect the winter ones from the frost.  

To keep them for two or three weeks once hey are mature, lift the whole plant, including roots and hang them upside down in a cool shed and syringe them daily. Cauliflowers freeze well and you can deal with an over abundant crop by freezing the surplus for later use. When harvesting, cut in the early morning when the plant is freshest, ideally with dew on it. During frosty weather however, it is better to wait till the warmest part of the day.  Cut through the stalk with a sharp knife, leaving enough leaves around the curd to protect it.  

Unlike some brassicas, the cauliflower will not produce worthwhile shoots after its head has been cut, so clear the remains of the crop as quickly as possible.

Pests and Diseases 

Disease / Pest


Club Root The first signs of infection are wilting. blueish leaves and a dying plant.

Cabbage Root fly Stunted growth especially if infected as seedlings. Discoloured leaves which wilt. Roots are black and rotten.

Cabbage Gall Weevil Stunted growth, and mis-shapen roots

Wirestem Rotting stems on seedlings

Downy Mildew Light grey powdery patches on the leaves and shoots, normally appearing in spring. The mildew will get right into the plant, eventually killing it.




Name: naila
E-mail: HAPPY1997@LIVE.CO.UK
Date posted: July 23, 2011 - 11:27 am

Name: Diane
Date posted: May 30, 2011 - 07:42 am
Message: Growing cauliflowers for the first time.Planted overwinter,protected with cloche. Now I have lots of tall deep green healthy leaves but no sign of the curds forming. Should I pull them up and use as cabbage or give them a bit longer to grow?

Name: Alan
E-mail: Private
Date posted: October 07, 2010 - 04:00 am
Message: For the second year, my cauliflowers (all year round variety) have not formed proper curds and the ones that have are very small. They appear to bolt. This is the second year - I gave the ground a good lime dressing before planting this year (I had the same prolem last year.)
So, I ask, what am I doing wrong and what should I do to ensure a "proper" crop?
All suggestions gratefully received.
Thank you.

Name: michelle
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 27, 2010 - 10:40 pm
Message: I have one Violet Queen cauliflower plant and I thought it was growing a cauliflower head, but then it started to flower. What do I do?

Name: Linda Hazlie
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 20, 2010 - 10:05 am
Message: I'ts the first time I've grown cauliflower and the curds have spaces in them and are turning pinkish-are they safe to eat?