Watching cauliflower heads form is as entertaining as cooking with them in the kitchen.
Cauliflowers are best planted in autumn and early winter to enable the flowering heads or curds to ripen in cold weather. Plant them in a full sun position with good drainage and deep, rich soil to accommodate their extensive roots. Growing them in a raised bed is ideal. They should be protected from frost, so avoid planting them in low-lying areas.
Cauliflowers dislike acid soil, so if yours is sourer than 6.5, dig in lime at least two weeks before planting. They require liberal quantities of fertiliser to produce the large, edible head so dig in some 5IN1® Organic Fertiliser. Seedlings should be thinned or transplanted to allow for plenty of space between each plant.
Cauliflowers need a steady supply of food and water to develop good heads. Keep weeds at bay and fertilise fortnightly throughout their growing period with Searles Flourish and/or SeaMax Fish & Kelp. As the head grows, wrap the large outer leaves around it to protect it from sun and prevent it from becoming discoloured. Cauliflower heads also dislike being wet, so irrigation with a dripper rather than a mister system is recommended. A good soak once a week is preferable to daily sprinklings. If heavy frosts have been forecast, protect the head with hessian at night, but remove this during the day to allow air to circulate.
Pests & Diseases of Cauliflower
Cabbage white caterpillars are the main problem with cauliflowers, and should be removed by hand or dusted with derris if necessary. Aphid infestations can build up in warmer weather and should be sprayed on contact with Searles Bug Beater.
Cauliflower heads are ready to be picked when it is firm and tight and large enough to fill one’s hand. Dig up the whole plant and discard the stem, roots and outer leaves.RECIPE: Creamy Cauliflower Mash