Packet Content (approx.): 12
The Christmas cauliflower! A mid July planting gives cropping from Christmas to end January, the Triomphant F1 is an autumn hybrid. Delicious pure white curds that are well protected by robust, semi-erect foliage gives attractive appearance to dense curds with excellent flavour.
- RHS Award of Garden Merit winner.
Sowing: May to Mid June
- Sow May-early June for a December-January harvest.
- For early crops sow seed under glass, at 10-15°C (50-60°F) February-March.
- Harden off plants before planting outdoors.
- For maincrop sow direct outdoors, 1.8cm (¾") deep, in a prepared seed-bed March-May.
Transplanting: Late June to End July
Once the plants have five to six leaves Transplant them to their final growing positions, space 75cm (30in) apart. Water the rows in the seed bed the day before and carefully lift the seedlings with as much soil as possible around the roots and place in prepared hole. Plant firmly, setting the seedlings at the same level as in the seedbed. Pack soil firmly around seedlings. Protect seedlings from birds with netting or fleece.
The secret of success is steady growth. From transplanting time onwards they need copious watering, if checked at any time, they are liable to form very small heads. Mulch the soil around the plants three weeks after planting, drenching it with water afterwards. Replace mulch as it deteriorates and pull weeds away from the plants. Winter cauliflowers have the hazard of too much water to contend with in the winter, as well as too little in the summer. Earth up the soil in early to mid-autumn to form a continuous low ridge. This ensures that the excess water drains away from the stem. It also helps to strengthen the plants against the winter winds.
Because they grow slowly over a longer period of time, and have to face winter conditions, the one thing you want to avoid is lush, rapid and therefore vulnerable growth. If plenty of manure has been dug in, there is no need for additional fertilizers, prior to planting out winter cauliflowers. The curds may "yellow" if they receive too much rain, frost or snow. Protect by bending the plants own leaves over them. When the curd reaches about three inches in size, Secure with soft string, rubber band or a clothes peg. (A few varieties are self-blanching, meaning the leaves curl over the curd.)
It is best to begin cutting some of the heads once the curds are firm to the touch and whilst they are still fairly small. Waiting for them all to mature will mean you will have a glut of cauliflower.
If the individual florets which make up the head or curd of the plant begin to separate then you have waited too long to harvest.
- When harvesting, cut in the early morning when the plant is freshest, ideally with dew on it. During frosty weather however, it is better to wait till the warmest part of the day.
- Cut through the stalk close to ground level with a sharp knife, leaving enough leaves around the curd to protect it.
- Unlike some Brassicas, the cauliflower will not produce worthwhile shoots after its head has been cut, so clear the remains of the crop as quickly as possible.
Suitable for the garden, allotments and containers.
Be prepared to water well and supplement feed with high-potash feed during season. Regular feeding is recommended.