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Good Soil for Good Cauliflowers

The weather hasn’t been very good for us over the last week. It’s so frustrating to watch the national weather showing hot sun in the south when just above us is the rain. The joys of living in the wet west. At least it’s not so bad working indoors when it’s raining.

Cauliflowers Blowing

I had an email that might be of wider interest about cauliflowers blowing.

This morning I dug up my cauliflower’s as they have blown, again; also I need the ground for my swede & sweetcorn, the latter reaching the greenhouse roof from the bench that is! This is the second season that this has occurred with my caulis, so do you know what I am doing wrong. I may have a second chance as I have a type to sow again in September; they are ‘All Year Round’

I must admit that cauliflowers can be difficult to grow and I’ve had problems in the past with them. I always start them off in pots of multi-purpose compost with a little extra lime added as they need a high pH. Usually I plant out when the roots have filled a 3″ pot but when I had clubroot on the plot took them up to 5″ pots before planting out.

Tiny Cauliflowers

Tiny Cauliflowers due to poor soil nutrition

Cauliflowers need a rich soil to do well with plenty of nitrogen. If you look at the amount of leaf area on them, it’s obvious they going to need a high level of  nitrogen to do well.

They also benefit from extra feeding as well as a rich soil. I like to give them a handful of chicken manure pellets at planting time and another when they’ve got well into growth. Because brassicas like a high pH I also dust lime around and mix into the planting hole.

Wind Rock

Cauliflowers

Good soil and husbandry results in excellent cauliflowers

Now, once the cauliflowers are developing and have some leaves they, like a lot of brassicas, become vulnerable to wind rock. The wind rocks the plant and this means the tiny feeding hairs on the roots break reducing the ability of the plant to feed. Net result is either tiny or blown cauliflowers (I’ve had both in the past)

Clubroot?

If you can protect them from wind, that may well stop the problem assuming the soil has enough nutrients. It’s usually lack of feed or the ability to take up feed that is the heart of the problem. I’ve assumed they’re not suffering from clubroot but that’s worth checking, of course.

The other thing that effects results is the variety. All Year Round is a good old variety but its never done particularly well for me. You may be better with Gypsy which I’ve done well with.

I’ve never been a fully signed up member of the organic brigade, I think artificial fertilisers and herbicides have their limited place in our armoury. But I’m totally in agreement with organic growers who say that the soil is thing to concentrate on.

For example, chocolate spot is a fungal disease that’s a problem with broad beans yet the root cause is a shortage of potash that makes the plant vulnerable in the first place. The richer the soil, the more nutrients and micro-nutrients available, the happier and healthier your plants will be

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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May 2020
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