What a difference a month makes...

09 June, 2013

For the first time I've been having some success with growing cauliflower.

Hopefully I won't jinx myself by saying that.

In previous years I really struggled to get any crops at all. This led to a rethink of how I grew caulis (come on, don't you just bung a few seeds in the ground come autumn and then feast on tender cauliflower all winter??? Isn't that how it works?...) and did a bit of reading on their growing requirements.

Armed with the knowledge that they will take months to grow (4-6 seemed to be the consensus in various garden books I consulted) and knowing that they really, really need lots of feeding, I planted out seeds of varying types of cauliflower in Janurary this year with my other early sown brassicas. I dutifully planted them in soil to which copious amounts of manure had been added, and I additionally periodically fed them with duck pond water.

Now when my first cauliflower was ready in only May I thought it was a fluke. (But actually in hindsight that is right on 4 months for a crop.)

But it was not a fluke. Witness exhibit A: the second cauliflower!

This one is a Mini White which I've never grown before. True to their name, they form a small, slightly bigger than fist size cauli, which is perfect for those times when a massive economy size cauli is just too much.

Now having thought it over, I think it has mostly come down to early sowing.

I think this because in late February I sowed another lot of seed, also in manured ground and regularly fed with duck pond water. This is them now (please ignore the weeds in the pic.)

They are nowhere near cropping size. While they have been a little munched by the brassica nemesis, the white cabbage moth larvae, I don't think that totally explains why they are so far behind the other caulis.

With caulis, for me, it seems timing is everything.

When do you plant your caulis? Any other cauli growing tips?


  1. Mine are really small this year. Last year I grew great cauliflowers but this year not so much. Now I'm racking my brain to work out what I did differently. The only thing I can think of is that I sowed in mid Jan this year compared with Feb last year so perhaps they need a longer cool period to do really well. I will be interested in what advice you get.

    1. Hmmm, a longer cool period you say. I hadn't considered that... Thanks.

  2. I am of no help - it is my first year of gardening through winter and you should have seen my excitement when I saw little heads of broccoli forming. Good looking cauliflower though - what did you do to stop the cabbage moth grubs eating them all up. Even the leaves look healthy. QUESTION - did you plant the same seeds in January as February?

    1. I know, it's so exciting! They do crop up so quickly; it seems the plants are all leaves then boom: cauliflower. I have found netting them at the early stage essential, so they can build up enough strength to be able to withstand the attack later. Or the leaves are too old and tough by that stage and the grubs don't find them appealing.
      On the question; good point. They were grown from the same seeds, from the same packets! So I don't think I could have been more consistent than that. And yet they are so different...

  3. Yay! A nice cauli. I grow it each year but this year I have only got tiny heads so far at least - in the past I have had reasonable success with decent heads. I normally put caulis out in February, January here would have been too hot for mew little babies.

    1. Its funny how some years are just great, or bad, years for different veg. I'm just happy to have a cauli though.