Sow thinly, 2cm (¾in) deep in a seedbed. Final rows should be 15cm (6in) apart for mini caulis or around 60cm (24in) for larger cultivars. Thin the seedlings to a final spacing of 15cm (6in) apart for mini caulis or 60cm (24in) for larger cultivars. However, best results come from sowing in cell trays using any good multi-purpose potting compost. As cauliflowers mature in a rush, avoid raising too many plants at a time.
The main sowing period is March to May, although early crops can be achieved by sowing under glass in January/February or sowing cultivars in the autumn in a glasshouse or coldframe.
Cauliflowers do best in very fertile soil, and digging in a bucketful of well-rotted manure or organic matter before planting, and raking in 150g per sq m (5oz per sq yd) of Growmore or other general purpose fertiliser, will help growth. Firm the soil by treading before planting.
If growth is checked, at any time during growth, they produce small, deformed heads. To avoid problems, water plants well the day before transplanting and make a hole deep enough to hold the plant with the lowest leaves at ground level. Fill this hole repeatedly with water. This will fill the hole with soil and ensure the plant is sitting in a large area of moist soil. Firm the soil very well against the roots.
Space summer and autumn cropping types 60cm (2ft) apart and winter cultivars around 75cm (2.5ft) apart; spacing of 30-45cm (12-18in) apart, provides mini, 'one person' curds.
Water well in dry weather, watering every 10 days, and apply sufficient water to thoroughly wet the root zone. Once the plants are growing well, add 30g (1oz) per square metre of high nitrogen fertiliser such as sulphate of ammonia to boost growth and curd formation.
Improve drainage and add lime to make soil more alkaline. Do not grow in affected soil.
More info on Club root
Protect the plants from birds by covering them with netting or fleece. Scarecrows and bird-scaring mechanisms work for a while, but the most reliable method of protection is to cover plants with horticultural fleece or mesh.
More info on Birds
In mild attacks, or if you have only a few plants, you may be able to pick the caterpillars off. Insect-proof mesh or fine netting (5-7mm mesh) can prevent egg-laying.
More info on Caterpillars
Start cutting when the heads are firm; once the florets start to separate, it is too late.
‘Clapton’ AGM:With large, white heads, this is for summer to late autumn harvest. Club root resistant.
'Moby Dick' AGM:Perfect for late autumn to early winter cropping. Strong foliage which protect it from early frosts reveal crisp white heads.
'Raleigh' AGM:This variety is extremely good in stressful conditions and shows good resistance to 'pinking', which makes it an excellent Cauliflower for exhibiting.
'Galleon' AGM:A superb Cauliflower, very reliable and over winters exceptionally well. Matures end of April early May.
'Jerome' AGM:Tolerant of all weathers and stands very well through the winter. It provides excellent quality heads for cutting in early spring.
'Triomphant' AGM:Known as the Christmas Cauliflower, but will stand well into January and is well protected by strong, semi-errect foliage.
'Candid Charm' AGM:A very quick maturing variety and ideal for close spacing. Very vigorous, producing densly packed, deep white heads.
'Nautilus' AGM:Sown in February onwards,this Cauliflower gives high quality heads from June to October. Upright and easy to cut, this variety will retain it's deep white colour for a long time.
'Nessie' AGM:An excellent summer Cauliflower. The plant displays blue-green leaves which well protect the curd. Mature in about 40 weeks from sowing.
‘Graffiti’ AGM:Has deep purple heads.
'Sunset':Has unique orange curds and like other coloured varieties is excellent eaten raw. The colour is most pronounced when young. The plant is very sturdy and compact.
'Veronica' AGM:This is a Romanesco type which displays quite beautiful, lime green, volcano like florets. Milder and sweeter than most Cauliflowers and keeps it's green colour when cooked.