28) Growing “winter cauliflower”

In this tip:

  • A)# Introduction
  • B)# In the allotment garden
  • C)# In the backyard garden
  • D)# Harvest too late
  • E)# Conclusions
  • F)# Below the original tip

A)# Introduction:

In the mid of summer you can sow “winter cauliflower” in the garden. The plants resist some degrees of frost. When hard frost is expected, put each plant in a big plastic flower pot. During hard freezing weather put each pot with plant under a roof or in a barn. At no freezing, you can put the pot + plant back in the garden soil.

From my first experiments, I grow rather small winter cauliflowers.

In 2014, I decided to sow earlier; in May or June (instead of July or August as to read on the package).

Sowing is easier using a “shift fall tray”. Replanting goes well with replanting tubes.


B)# in my allotment garden

Two winter cauliflower plants at mid August (mid, late summer) Sowing dates are June 15 (end of spring) (the left one) and May 20 (mid to late spring) (right one).

Same plants on November 2 (mid autumn).

The left plant at January 14 (early to mid winter). The right side plant has been removed because of weird growing.

The same plant at April 1 (early spring). Side view photo. No cauliflower te be seen.

The winter cauliflower plant at May 1 (mid spring). The plant is growing again.

Just nine days later, on May 10 (mid spring), a big cauliflower has been harvested. Its weight is 660 grams.


C)# In the backyard garden

Photo of three winter cauliflower plants in my backyardgarden, early November (mid autumn). The biggest plant (on the left) has been sown at May 20 (mid to end spring). The two other plants, on the right at June 15 (late spring).

Same plants at mid January mid winter).

Same plants in early April (early spring). The photo has been taken from the opposite side.

Plants at April 26 (mid spring). Plants are growing again.

On the same date (April 26), there is a small to medium cauliflower in the right plant. With a caterpillar on it. It has been removed.

Keeping white:

blad sluiten 5

blad sluiten 6

At the cauliflower plants, you can fold many leaves together and fix them with a “watering pot” (a lowered bottomless plastic flower pot). To keep the cauliflower in the dark during growing. When exposed to daylight, the cauliflower turns into yellow.

This watering pot has a thin wall. Before putting on, you can put the watering pot over your (under) arm. Fold leaves together with your hand and shove the watering pot over the leaves.



At May 5, 9 days later, the same cauliflower (700 grams) has been harvested. At the last photo you see where the caterpillar has eaten.

A few days later medium to big cauliflowers have been harvested at the 2 other cabbage plants.


D)# Harvest too late

When you wait too long, you can harvest a “loose” cauliflower, as shown on the photo above.


E)# Conclusions:

  • When sowing winter cabbage too early, a weird plant can grow. Most of the time there is no cauliflower growing on (in) it.
  • When sowing in June (late spring, early summer) you have big plants before the winter. In April/may (spring) you can harvest mideium to big cauliflowers.
  • Sowing in July/August (mid summer) as indicated on the package, results in (too) small plants i winter and small cauliflowers in spring.
  • Cauliflowers are ready to harvest within 1 to 2 weeks after the first apparition. Waiting too lang results in a loose cauliflower.
  • During a mild winter, the cailiflower plants can remain in the garden soil.
  • During heavy cold freezing weather you can store the plants in big flower pots under a roof or in a barn. Or put an “open tomato roof” over the plants in the garden (see photo below). At normal weather, remove the roof or put the plants in teh soil again.



F)# Below the original tip.

You can sow winter cauliflower seeds in the garden soil in July to August (mid summer). Plants overwinter in the garden.

In spring next year you can harvest the cauliflowers.

You can grow the plants in the garden soil in big flower pots. Put the flower pots with plants under a roof or in a barn during severe cold freezing weather. Put them back in the soil in early spring. Add much water to the plant and soil in the spring; cauliflowers need much water during formation of the cauliflower.


F1) Species

For “winter cauliflower” there are special species. In Europe we can use this species.


F2) Sowing time

In Europe, “winter cauliflower” is sown in the garden in July or August (mid summer), according to the info on the package. When sowing later, plants will be small before winter. In spring there will be (very) small cauliflowers.

My experience is that sowing in June (late spring) is okay; there are big plants before the winter and you harvest medium to big cauliflowers in April/May (mid spring).


F3) Sowing

Use a scoop or garden trowel to loosen the soil. Mix the soil with manure or compost and agricultural lime. Make a furrow, 3 inch wide, 1.5 to 2 inch deep.

Spray water in the furrow. Use a watering can with fine shower.

Strew cauliflower seeds in a white tray so you can clearly see the seeds. Use tweezers, fingers or a cocktail stick with moist point to lay the seeds in the furrow.

You can use a lat or (nylon) string with distance marks. Sow groups of 3 or 4 seeds. Distance between groups is about 6 inch.

Then strew moist crumbled earth in the furrow on the seeds. Layer thickness is about 1/6  to 1/4 inch.

After sowing, weather can be bad for germination; warm, dry or downpours. So lay some wooden boards, plastic plate or corrugated plate over the furrow. Lay some bricks on to prevent from blowing away.

After 3 to 8 days plants are visible. Then remove the plates or boards. When needed, water the plants using a can with fine shower head. Use cold water.


F4) Thinning

This photo shows cauliflower plants, 3 weeks after sowing. Each 6 inch there is a group with 1,2,3 or 4 plants.

Use a small knife or metal blade to remove some plants at each group, until 2 plants left per group. These 2 plants are the biggest ones.

After thinning, water the plants using a can with fine shower head.


F5) Planting out time

4 To 6 weeks after sowing, plants are big enough to plant out. Plant out at cool rainy weather.

If you did not sow yourself, you can buy winter cauliflower plants in a garden shop in summer. In Europe this is beween July 15 and August 15.


F6) Planting location

Put the cauliflower plants on a windy location in your garden to have less plant diseases.


F7) Watering the plants before planting out

Water plants and soil at least 30 minutes before planting. Use a watering can with fine shower. Add much water to the plants and the soil around the plants.


F8) Planting in big flower pots in the garden soil

You better put the small cauliflower plants in big plastic flower pots. Before the cold winter time you can take the plants out of the garden soil easily.  Put the pots with plants under a roof or in a barn and put them back in the garden in spring.

Putting small plants in pots is much easier than taking the large plants with big root balls out of the soil and putting them in the flower pots, later. That is a hard job and you can loose much earth from the root ball.

Use plastic flower pots, heighth and top diameter about 25 to 30 cm, (10 to 12 inch). I try flower pots with “open” bottom. Make a hole and put the pot in the garden soil.

Put some garden earth, manure or compost and Agricultural lime in the flower pot. Mix it with a spade. Put some more soil etc in the pot and mix again.

Continue until flower pot is filled.

Put a bulb planter in the middle of the earth in the pot. Depth about 4 to 6 inch (10 to 15 cm). Then take the planter with earth out of the soil.


Push the point of a garden trowel in the garden soil, in a circle around the cauliflower plant. Then use the scoop to take out the plant with a (big) root ball.

Are 2 plants close to each other then you can take out one plant with a big root ball and one plant with a small root ball. I think that big and small root balls will result in big cauliflower plants.

This photo shows a cauliflower plant with a big root ball.

On this photo you see a plant with a small root ball.

Put the plant in the soil in the flower pot: hold the plant at the right height. Fill the space around and below the root ball with earth from the garden or from the bulb planter. Put the plant deep in the soil. The plant will not be blown down so easy then.

Next step is putting some pieces of manure around the stem of the plant. When you have a small heap of manure in the garden, you can pick flat pieces from the top of the heap.

Flat pieces of manure.

Lay pieces of manure around the plant against the stem. Thickness about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0,5 to 1 cm).

Pour cold water in the flower pot around the plant and have the water “diappear” into the soil.


F9) Remarks about planting

  • Put the plants rather deep in the soil.  Then they will not be blown down by hard winds.
  • Cabbage plants use much nourishment. So mix manure or compost in the soil.
  • By mixing agricultural lime there is less risk of the plant disease “Clubroot”
  • Plants grow slow in dried out soil. So regularly pour much water in the flower pot edge to water the plants.
  • The “slices” of manure prevent the soil from drying out too fast. During watering, nutritious matter from the manure goes towards the roots of the plant.  The slices of manure help against the cabbage fly. Maggots of the cabbage fly will not pass the slices of manure.  At least that is my exprience.


F10) Putting in my back garden

In late autumn, put the flower pots with big plants in the soil of the back garden.


F11) Growing too high in the flower pot

It can happen that the cauliflower plant grows too high in the flower pot. You can act as follows;

Take out much earth from the bottom of the flower pot.

Push the root ball down in the flower pot.

Put garden earth in the flower pot. Now the plant is at the good depth in the flower pot again.


F12) Putting under a roof or in a frost-free room

Before a long freezing period, take the pots with plants out of the soil. Put them under a roof or in a frost-proof room.


F13) Back in the garden soil

At the end of a (long) freezing period, when the soil is not frozen anymore, you can put the pots with plants back in the garden soil. Put the pots in the “original” holes in the soil.


F14) Growing and harvest

In spring, plants start growing again. Most leaves look fresh and healty again. Remove some yellow coloured leaves.

The plants will not be so big as the “normal” cauliflower plants that grow in spring and summer.

Put the flower pots with plants some deeper in the garden soil.  Press the earth against the outer side of the pots. And the ground in the pot is about 1 inch lower than the edge.

Take care that you can give the plants lots of cold water during next growth.

Regularly water the plants with cold water.

Half spring first cauliflowers can be visible.

Cover the cauliflower to overcome colouring to yellow. Some leaves have been bent together and a clamp has been put on it. This clamp is the same as used for my bean tunnel (tip 11).

Some days later you can harvest. When you wait to long, the structure of the cauliflower will get “loose”.

This is my harvest of from 5 plants. One big cauliflower and 4 loose ones. The loose cauliflowers should have been harvested earlier.  Next season I’m going to sow some weeks earlier.


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