If you’ve ever been disappointed by growing cauliflower, or if it’s your first time growing it, then read this…we’ll explain how to give it the best chance to grow nice and big.
The most important thing to understand with cauliflower is that it doesn’t tolerate stress very well. So, if it experiences extremes of temperature, or moisture levels in the soil (i.e water logging or drought) or if it struggles to get enough nutrients, it will fail to form the big fluffy cauliflower head that we all dream of, instead producing a golf ball sized head, or lots of little florets.
With this in mind, the big trick with cauliflower is to help keep it stress free. Plant them 40-60cm apart in rich soil (adding lots of compost is great and no-dig works brilliantly.) Try to keep the soil consistently moist rather than allowing it to dry out in between periods of rain. This will help to keep it well nourished too, as the plants can draw up nutrients from the soil more easily, and will also help to keep the soil relatively cool in hotter spells. It’s worth giving your cauliflower plants a liquid feed in the summer, for a nutritious boost.
If you look after your cauliflowers as above, you should be rewarded with a good crop later in the year, providing it doesn’t get munched by its common pests: caterpillars, pigeons, cabbage root fly – pop brassica collars around the base of stems when you plant them, and protect the plants with insect mesh netting (which’ll also keep the pigeons away).
As the cauliflower heads start to form, wait until they get to about the size of a ping pong ball, and then gently pull a couple of leaves in around the head and tie them in. This will protect them from sun scorching, keeping them nice and white until they are big enough to harvest.