OOOOh they are coming! It is so nice to have cauliflower to look forward to. So nice that upon seeing mine developing I immediately went out and bought one at the Preston market and used it to make a risotto for tonights dinner.
I enjoy cooking with cauliflower – which for some reason many people seem to find strange. I have to say I don’t really know why as it is pretty versatile, many of the major cuisines have done interesting (and quite different) things with it and it tastes good. What’s not to like?
I also find cauliflower quite an exciting vegetable to grow. I like how they can appear to have nothing happening but if you inspect a little closer there is a flower head appearing under a swathe of leaves.
And then the flower head gets bigger……………..so I peg the leaves together to keep the head white….then finally it will be ready for harvest and then the best part – eating it!
How I grow Cauliflower
I have to admit I cheated this year – these plants I bought as seedlings – I had run out of the seed I grew last year (Pale Leaf – which was great incidentally) and didn’t manage to replace it in time to sow over the summer. I did eventually replace the seed but I’m yet to sow any – I got a variety called: All Year Round which apparently you can sow anytime from February to September. Most other varieties suggest that you sow them between November and February in Melbourne. In retrospect I’m not entirely sure why I bought the All Year Round variety as it suits me best to grow cauliflower by starting it in seed trays over summer and then potting up the seedlings in Autumn ready to be planted out when the summer crops have finished. This means winter or perhaps early spring harvesting which frees up the space for other Spring planting. Cauliflower does take up a fair bit of room in the beds so I do need to plant it during periods when the space is at slightly less of a premium.
Other than giving it a nice growing medium with compost and manure dug through it I give my cauliflowers a liquid fertilise about every three weeks – it should probably be fortnightly but somehow I don’t always get round to it. Other than the occasional pest (see below) it is reasonably trouble free to grow at least until you get to the flowering stage.
Most problems with cauliflower seem to occur with the flowering heads themselves. One issue I have had is the florets splitting into tree like shapes rather than multiplying. I think this may be due to lack of space as I have had most problems with this with pot grown plants (where I have shoved 3 plants in one large pot). I have read though that it can also be due to the weather being too warm.
The other common problem I have had is the flower heads discolouring which can be solved by protecting them with the other leaves – see the peg picture above. Finally I have had patchy brown discoloration on the flower head itself which I am fairly sure is small insects eating the flower head. After harvest I tend to just cut out these patches.
I found a cabbage white butterfly caterpillar on my plants last week – this in the middle of winter. I expect them in Autumn and Spring but usually there is a respite during winter but no! I have posted on dealing with cabbage white butterflies in a couple of posts, one on pests and one on broccoli, so wont repeat myself here but I will say I was a little upset to find them already appearing. To look on the bright side perhaps that means it will be an early Spring.