2010 cauliflowers: the obituary

young cauliflowersGardening’s a bit like corporate advertising: You know that 50% of it will be ineffective. You just don’t know which 50%.

Every year I try to grow and plant out the broadest range of vegetables I can, in the full and certain knowledge that some (many?) won’t ultimately produce much, if any, food. Some will be an utter write-off.

Why waste so much time and effort?

Because in the UK, the weather is so fucking unpredictable. It can be freezing cold and wet, freezing cold and dry, hot and wet, hot and dry, hot/cold/wet/windy/dry and Christ alone knows what else.

Result: there is no such thing as a season that suits every vegetable. So some thrive, and some die – you just don’t know, in April, which will be which.

Come June, though, the clues are mounting up. And I reckon these cauliflowers are doomed. I got them in late, they struggled to get going, and now we’re getting some seriously hot and dry weather – the conditions they loathe most.

RIP Soilman cauliflower crop 2010.

10 Responses to “2010 cauliflowers: the obituary”

  1. Jeane Says:

    I just pulled out all my cauliflower plants, too. They got nice and big, but are now bolting instead of forming heads. I figure it’s too hot. And they were such lovely-looking plants!

  2. Tanya Walton Says:

    I haven’t even got my cauli crop in yet and I sowed three packets before I had enough germinate to make a row…so I still think you are way in front of me SM…oh and of course they have been savaged by the flea beetle…still they are grown now so i will plant them…and if I only manage to get enough for one dinner from the whole row I know it will still taste a damn sight finer than any store bought cauli!!!!

  3. CM Says:

    Produce farming in Colorado, we always seeded cauliflower and broccoli around July 1st to get them into the cooler fall weather that they really thrive in. You must closely nurture the seedlings through the heat but we simply kept a bed in the garden for late transplants and it worked well. Just crowd them in now and thin them later. Can do for lettuces, all the other cole crops too.

    Enjoy your writings and expressions of pain and persistence. I’ll be watching and cheering as the Brits take on Germany too, since we got clocked today.

    All the Best, CM

  4. Emma Says:

    I’m not growing cauliflowers (because it’s my first year with an allotment and they just sounded too hard!) but one of my allotment neighbours is and they say they’re not optimistic about their chances. I might give them a go next year, but with the expectation it might not be a success.Then if it is I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  5. Soilman Says:

    CM: great advice… Should have kept some seedlings for autumn! England got their just deserts again v Krauts; we fielded a shit team (again- hooray!) and got pasted deservedly.

    Emma: have a go. It’s not difficult to grow caulis, it just takes work and time.

  6. Amanda Says:

    I always look to you, Soilman, as the expert in cultivation of cauliflowers. I’ve been carefully watering mine this year, thinking that this is probably where I’ve been going wrong in the past. Then I realised this week that the plants I’ve been so diligently caring for are, in fact, cabbages. The cauliflowers are at the other end of the bed, quite neglected, water-wise. Sigh. Next year I will label the brassica seedlings instead of relying on my obviously-faulty memory.

  7. Suzanne Says:

    I sympathise – last year I planted a dozen and got precisely none to eat! Some got caterpillar infested, some just never developed, and some developed and went to seed in the space of the time it took me to have a short holiday…

    But spurred on by your usual outstanding success…I planted more this year, along with 4 varieties of cabbage – only trouble is that all the labels I put on the seed trays got muddled (I blame anyone but me), and I now have a large patch of assorted brassica with not a clue which are which…I am hoping that in time the caulis will identify themselves but I fear this may be blind optimism.

  8. Soilman Says:

    It’s a bugger that brassicas all look the same when they’re seedlings! You do have to be horribly organised when you’re sowing or it all goes pear-shaped at planting-out time. I sometimes sow seeds in module trays in the shape of the letter ‘C’ for cauliflower – so some of the modules have seeds sown and some don’t.

    Of course, this only works in the years I’m not growing cabbages, too…

  9. Simon Says:

    Well the rabbits/hares scoffed all my brassicas – twice. I replaced the first lot (from our plant swap) with shop bought plantlets, and then they got munched too. I have given up on brassicas now for this year and used the bed to plant carrots and parsnips instead.

  10. Mal Says:

    Those cauli’s just need a chance – and it looks like you’ve kept watering them. The first time I grew Cauli’s I thought they had failed completely. It was only when uprooting them to throw out that I discovered the curds hidden within.

    Like the analogy to marketing, but I think it’s more like surfing: You try to catch the best growing conditions. sometimes they don’t arrive, sometimes they knock all your plans into the drink, but it’s all worth it for that occasional successful ride!