Cauliflowers are not the easiest of the brassica family to grow but these delicious and versatile vegetables are well worth the effort. They can be grown practically year round, especially if you have a greenhouse or polytunnel to keep off the worst of the winter chill.

Growing cauliflower:

Cauliflowers are quite fussy plants. They need a really fertile and deep soil in which to grow and will not perform well if they are not given enough space. For full sized heads you will need to leave around 60-75cm between each plant. This means that they do take up a lot of garden space though many consider this to be worth it since they are relatively expensive to buy in the shops. If you wish you can also grow mini one-person cauliflowers by reducing spacing to around 45cm.

You can plant cauliflowers between February and May or between October and December but be sure to choose the correct variety for the different seasons. Start seeds indoors and transplant later to their final positions. Be sure to prepare the ground well for the transplants and try to ensure that the cauliflower does not get a check in its growth at any point or they produce small and often deformed heads. Add some high quality organic fertiliser, manure or compost to the soil before transplanting and once you have made the hole for the plant, fill that hole repeatedly with water to ensure the soil around the plant will be full of moisture.

As with many brassicas, the cauliflowers will like to have the soil very firm around them, so be sure to firm soil very well when you plant the seedlings. You may wish to net the cauliflowers against birds, insects etc.. Birds can often be a particular problem for cauliflowers.

Water the cauliflowers well every ten days or so in dry weather and add a nitrogen rich organic feed like nettle tea once plants are growing well in order to boost growth of the plants and the formation of the curds. A mulch of grass clippings may also be beneficial, especially during drier months.

No matter what size they are, start cutting heads when they are firm. Once the florets start to separate it is unfortunately then too late and the cauliflowers will not taste as they should.

Why grow cauliflower in the garden?

Cauliflowers may be slightly more difficult to grow that other brassicas but they are delicious in a variety of recipes and can be used in a number of imaginative ways in the kitchen. Cauliflowers can even be used to make a rice substitute or a pizza base, so you can think beyond the simple boiled veg and cauliflower cheese.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis