Cauliflower is probably the crop that gives me the most worries while growing up - almost like the kitchen garden's child of pain, where you can only really relax when it has grown up. It is quite sensitive to both too much heat and too much cold during growing up, where I have often experienced that the small plants almost wither or at least stand for a long time in stomping all the other cabbage varieties sown at the same time just galloping away. If I sow on the windowsill in early spring (early March) it almost always goes wrong, so now I wait at least until sometime in April. Even here, it can initially look promising, after which a heat wave can occur and perhaps even a subsequent cold spell that can make the heads look really funny: either leaves grow out through the head, or the head gets a rough, almost beard-like growth.
Sown in the autumn and overwintered in the greenhouse as small plants together with broccoli and cabbage, the cauliflower also stands out as the cabbage family's slightly weak cousin. Where the others almost always survive 100%, the cauliflowers can be more or less eradicated by the frost - and when the heat enters the greenhouse in February-March, the others shoot merrily with new leaves while the cauliflower continues to look just as sad. This year I have therefore done it with the prospect of severe frost that they have come in and stand in a half-cold window sill so they should not freeze. It's almost like having to take care of a bunch of little chickens that have lost their mother.
In March, they are then planted in a manure bench or under plastic when the sun can heat up and the plants begin to look as if they want to grow (where broccoli and spit bowls have long been planted). And if they then manage to survive until sometime in April without being eaten by budworms, pigeons or anything else - and if they have not developed "blindness" where they do not try to form a head at all (as one has done this year) - then it should probably go. As long as they get enough fertilizer and water. In the picture is today's "main crop" which has managed to come alive through the 8 month long course.
Another way to get involved in cauliflower cultivation is to sow special wintering varieties (eg Aalsmeer) here in June and plant them on the growing site in August. They meet in the winter as fairly large plants, and if all goes well (which it sometimes does) you can harvest fresh cauliflower already in April / May. I'll try that then …….