Growing Cauliflower from Seed
Sowing in Modular trays
Use a seed compost which has a finer texture and lower nutrients than your standard multipurpose compost. We use a seed module tray with each section being approx 2 inches deep.
Fill the seed tray with compost and brush off any excess. When filling the tray rub the compost through your hands to break up any lumps. Give the tray a sharp bang on your table to settle.
With your fingers make small depressions in each cell about a fingernail or 1.5cm deep. Sow 1 or 2 seeds per module. If 2 seeds germinate you will have to remove the weaker seedling.
Cover the seeds with another layer of compost then scrape across the top of the tray with a stick to remove excess. Gently water your seeds. A good tip is to use a plastic bottle with small holes punched in the cap. This is less likely to wash the seed around than the heavy spray from a watering can. Place your trays in your greenhouse, poly tunnel, cold frame or windowsill to germinate. They should be ready to plant out in about 4 weeks.
If you're sowing in March the seeds will need some warmth. Use a propagator, heat mat or a warm south facing windowsill.
It's important to keep you seedlings properly watered before you plant them out in the garden. You are actually far better to under rather than over water your plants. This may sound odd but making the roots search for water helps to develop a better root system. It's a bit like keeping fit.
You do need to be careful, however, not to let the compost plug completely dry out or it will form a crust on top and won't absorb the moisture the next time you water. It will all depend on the weather of course but on a hot day you will need to water twice a day, if it's it's dull every 2 days will be fine.
Plants that have been raised indoors will need to get used to the outdoor temperature and conditions before they can be planted outside, this will take about a week to 10 days depending on the weather.
The best way is to use a cloche or mini greenhouse. You can leave the cloche off the plants on dry frost free days and replace at night. Gradually increase the time with the cloche removed until the end of the week when you leave it off day and night. If the weather is mild you may not need the cloche, just move the plants outside for longer periods each day.
If you have started your seeds on a windowsill you will need to leave them in an unheated room for a day or two before moving outside to the cloche.
Planting cauliflower vegetable seedlingsCauliflower plants should be planted 60cm between plants and 60cm between rows. The distance between the plants will determine the size of the head so try to stick to the recommended distance. The closer you plant, the smaller the head. It has become fashionable recently to grow mini cauliflower so if you want to keep up with the Jones's you could plant 15cm x 25cm.
Like cabbage, cauliflower needs a well compacted soil so ideally have your digging and manureing done a couple of months in advance. If this isn't possible make sure you firm around the seedling very well with your boot, it's o.k. to be heavy handed here as firm soil is very important.
Water your plants well an hour before planting. To plant your seedling make a hole in the soil the approximate size of the seedling 'plug'. You need to push the soil in around the roots firmly with your fingers to get good contact with the soil. Don't firm down on the top of the soil as this can compact it and prevent moisture getting down to the plants roots.
Water the plants after planting but do not soak them. You are better to transplant on a dull day or in the evening to prevent the plants wilting on a hot, dry day.