Planting Cauliflowers


I planted my Cauliflowers today. I sowed them with the tomatoes back in March and now they are about 10cm high. Because we have a walled garden the temperature is a little higher inside than outside so it’s totally safe to plant out Cauliflowers.

I watched a show once where they suggested mixing lime with potting compost. The idea was to dig a big hole for each Cauliflower and put the lime mixture in the hole before planting. Lime helps combat Club Root which, if you have it in your soil, can ruin your chances of growing Cauliflowers or other Brassicas for a good few years to come. So needless to say I’m taking every precaution to avoid that.

Despite taking these precautions, Cauliflowers are still difficult to grow well. If the club root doesn’t get at them then the Cabbage White butterflies will, and if their caterpillars don’t munch through the whole lot then Cabbage Root fly will make the leaves wilt and die. The reality is that Cauliflowers will probably take up a lot of your time and attention – probably more time and attention than is really worth it if we’re being honest.

12 Comments on “Planting Cauliflowers

  1. I am hoping the BT spray will handle the caterpillars this year. I did not know about club root, I will keep an eye out for that.

  2. hi there I am a vegatable gardner and was looking at the subject on vegatable gardening, now I thought of getting some good old manure from a farm where I come from, I live in a small village in the country near Durham city nice place, my question is; is the manure that we get from the farms these days good for organic gardeners or not as we know farmers nowdays use chemicals so the next thing that I was looking at was growing green manure is there any tips that you can advise me with, would appreciate some help, I made a bin of my own compost last year for this year and the manure that I produced is nice so I have dug that in and this has improved the soil no end, planted a few rows of potatoes in there to see how they grow, I have two rabits nd the hay and their droppings paper and any old grass mowings and all old veg matter has made this bin for me would the rabit droppings be to strong for the manure or is it ok, thanks Colin

  3. Ooh, I am so glad that cauliflowers are the only veg that I don’t like after reading that!

  4. Hi Colin,

    I guess it would make sense that if the farmer uses chemicals then it would somehow make its way into the manure. However, I’m no expert on this.

    There are some good alternatives to manure. Pelleted chicken manure is easier to use (although may have the same issues as horse and pig manure).

    As you mention you could try green manures. I usually sow some green manure at the end of the growing season when I have some empty beds. The winter weather helps to break down the greens once I dig them in. I use Mustard for my green manure as I find it easiest to dig in afterwards but there are others you can try like Clover, Alfalfa and Winter Tares. Although, I have heard some stories that some green manures are a bit difficult to get rid of once you’ve sown them – particularly Winter Tares.

    Regards the rabbit droppings: I have never used them myself but I think they are perfect for fertilizing a garden. This website seems to think that they are the only manure that you can put straight on your garden without composting or rotting first.

  5. I gave upon cauliflowers years ago. As you say they can be difficult to grow and I never did well. Which is a shame as I like cauliflower. I think a light soil and a club root problem were the final nails in the coffin.

  6. Cauliflowers… they’re just too difficult for me. In the past three years, they either
    1) died of club root (despite all the precautions)
    2) grew and grew and grew … without ever producing a head.
    3) produced a head that was subsequently eaten by caterpillars
    No more cauliflowers for me. You’re so brave to try them!

  7. me&my family are growing veg for the 1st time this yr,& dispite all the problems with growing cauliflower we are giving it a go so fingers crossed for us & we will let you know how it goes! x

  8. Mu only time growing Cauli was from store starts in mounds that probably got too much shade. They got full size but didn’t set fruit, so i gave a neighbor permission to harvest leaves whenever he wanted greens for cooking. Next Spring as soon as it turned hot I was shocked to discover HUGE medicine ball size cauli heads on 2 of the plants. OMG – i separated each into about 6 heads and shared most with friends.

    I also left the hardy elongated stems in place, and threw fresh compost on them when new shoots began to appear. I was able to separagte at least 3 to plant elsewhere in the garden, and each prodiced tasty fist size fruit, and leaves for harvesting. Some have set seed which I belive has crossed with cabbage, and I am sure I will have lots of good greens from this for my new garden.

    Jules’ Conclusion: if you have space to wait and watch, never pull a Cole (including kohlrabi) that fails to set the kind of fruit you expected the first season. They can rebound in a big way in cool weather -and offer great greens to share with others. You can also eat the flowers, but crossed pollen may be undesirable in your garden, (unless you are crazy about Seed Sprouts for Sandwiches & stir-fry, or harvesting varied hardy all-season greens) Most of us will cut back to a sturdy stem when they bolt, and they’ll often begin pushing out fresh greens.

  9. HELP !!!
    Can anyone tell me how I can get rid of the caterpillars that are hiding amongst my newly harvested califlowers? I know they don’t harm you to eat them but the thought of eating them puts me off wanting to eat them!!!

    Please can anyone help?


  10. You could try immersing them in water to see if they rise to the surface. Otherwise the only option is to chop the cauliflower up into small piece and pick the caterpillars out as you go.