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Blown cauliflowers.

HxHx Posts: 2
Hi everyone, this is my first attempt at a post, hope I've done it right..lol. I am fairly new to veg gardening and have tried to grow cauliflowers, most of them have blown, just wondering if anyone has any tips on how to prevent this 😀 
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  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,271
    Welcome.  Cauliflower are challenging for experienced gardeners, so don't be disheartened!  

    I've never grown them myself, for that exact reason!  Someone will come give you some excellent advice.  
    Utah, USA.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 326
    Until someone else from the Clever Brigade comes up with an explanation, unlike most other brassicas, cauliflowers (and broccoli) prefer a slightly more acidic soil I'm told 'to help form the curds' as my informant put it.  That may be the reason.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 9,540
    edited 31 July
    My method:
    I usually grow a variety called 'All the year round' which is reliable here.  They love clay soil and hate sandy soil, so grow something else if you have the latter.  Prick-out seedlings when the first true leaves appear and grow-on in 9cm pots until they have 5 true leaves (will be about 6" high by then.)  They need lots of nitrogen so prepare the soil well by adding well-rotted manure or fish, blood and bone fertilizer.  Plant deep, so that the bottom leaves are at soil level with no stem visible.  Firm each plant in well by putting your weight on your fists placed close to each side the stem or (carefully!) use your feet.  Do not let them go short on water at any stage (especially as seedlings and when in pots) or they will almost certainly 'blow'.  Best to net them against butterflies and inspect them regularly as the heads develop very quickly once they start to appear.  A fine looking head can go over within 2 days, so cut them when they are looking good and freeze any excess.  Bend a leaf so that the emerging head is protected from the sun when you inspect them - this helps keep them white.
    I left a few of these in a day or two too long, but they're not too bad and most of them  are now in the freezer:

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 21,067
    Great advice @BobTheGardener.  Thanks.   I did most of the above but we did have a very hot and dry April and May here.   I only grew 6 bought plugs as an experiment and 2 were OK but 4 blew and tasted awful.  I told OH never again but might have another go next year.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 9,540
    For obvious reasons, I was able to keep a close eye on the seedlings this year @Obelixx which helped with the early hot spell but have been caught out in previous years - they definitely don't like going thirsty!  As there is a very much improved rich clay soil in that particular bed, I tried planting closer than usual as an experiment this year - just 12" spacing and in a block rather than rows and I think that actually helped by shading the ground underneath and in between plants, helping to retain moisture (but I was watering regularly too.)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • HxHx Posts: 2
    Wow..thank you everyone for your responses,  I will have another try at growing them and try out all of the offered advice, thank you  :)
  • Don,t put your plants into freshly dug ground, that goes for all brassica plants. I always dig brassica beds the previous autumn, if you can,t do that make sure the young plants are well firmed in and check them periodically, use your heel of your boot.
  • Stephanie newish gardenerStephanie newish gardener Aberdeenshire/Moray coastPosts: 398
    These are my caulis, plus some kale and broccoli, growing in what I like to call my 'brassica pavilion'. Never grown caulis before, they are in a bed that didn't exist until April, and we've had one cauli already, which was nice. They are igloo caulis so are good to pick small, and I'm suitably chuffed that they're doing so well, given their tricky reputation and the newness of the site.
    The pavilion is the frame of an old gazebo with scaffolding netting on it, but unfortunately I do have some caterpillars because of course there was a period where the seedlings were outside and not in their new home. It could be worse, and in a way it is, because the new bed is full of mare's tail so I'm constantly pulling off the new shoots, not to mention buttercup and hairy bittercress. But then what else would I do with my day...apart from try to keep on top of the rest of the 3/4 acre garden! 
    Gardening - that thing you do which frustrates, annoys, astounds and pleases you in unequal measure! 😎🙃

  • Stephanie newish gardenerStephanie newish gardener Aberdeenshire/Moray coastPosts: 398
    You know I said it could be worse.....?
    Just been on a caterpillar hunt and found the place crawling with hundreds of little beetles, many of which seem to be setting up camp on the emerging broccoli heads. I wasn't sure if they are friend or foe, but I'm guessing they aren't the lesser spotted caterpillar-eating beetle.....🤔😕

    @BobTheGardener, do you know what they are and whether I can/should try to do something about them please? 
    Thanks 
  • Stephanie newish gardenerStephanie newish gardener Aberdeenshire/Moray coastPosts: 398


    This is a better picture (not a banana plant, but the handle of my garden trug!)
    I looked at flea beetle pictures but they all look shiny and these are matt, so I'm not sure what they are, apart from most likely a nuisance! 
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