Winter is a great time for a bountiful harvest of cauliflower, as it is for most of the brassicas. This delicious, vitamin packed veggie is one of the most versatile veggies around and is a healthy staple in many popular dishes over the colder months.
Cauliflower prefer a rich, deep soil with good levels of composted organic matter. They are frost tolerant and like a sunny spot in the garden, with at least 6 hours of direct sun each day. Choose a protected position, with shelter from strong winds to give them the best chance to reach maturity.
This all-round edible requires a nutrient rich soil as cauliflower are heavy feeders, and soil that is well drained will ensure the most reliable harvest of fully developed heads. Prepare the planting area with ActivGrow Soil Improver and have some Sugar Cane Mulch handy to cover and protect the soil, keeping in the Autumn warmth.
When sowing seedlings make sure to leave about 40cm between plants and get them in the ground mid-Autumn to early Winter depending on your location. If you plant any later, you run the risk of watching your cauliflower bolt to seed as the weather warms up in Spring.
Fertilise every 2 to 4 weeks with ActivGrow Fertiliser Pellets around the base of the plant, and again with an organic liquid fertiliser just as the heads are beginning to form.
Cauliflower is ready to harvest when the heads are 15-20cm in diameter, firm and compact. This can take between 2 and 3 months, depending on which variety you are growing. Cut the head from the stem and try and leave some of the outer leaves attached to protect it until it is ready to be eaten.
Look out for the Cabbage White Butterfly, which will lay its eggs on cauliflower unless plants are covered with some protective netting. If left unprotected, the larvae (small green or large yellow and black caterpillar) can destroy small plants and damage larger plants. Planting alongside a companion plant like nasturtium can help, but always be prepared to remove eggs and caterpillars if they start to become a problem.