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VEG AT A GLANCE CAULIFLOWERS

Cauliflowers can be a challenge to grow well, but their versatility in the kitchen and the fact that they are very good for you makes them well worth the effort, says KG editor Steve Ott

SOW: Jan-Jun

HARVEST: Feb-Dec

Cauliflowers have gone through a renaissance recently; if your mind conjures pictures of over-boiled tasteless curds, then think again. Cauliflower is increasingly popular raw in salads and for dipping, as a healthy alternative to rice, as a purée, as well as the way most of us have eaten it: gently steamed or lightly boiled and covered in a delicious cheesy sauce. A melt in the mouth delight.

Most nutritious just lightly steamed or served raw, cauliflower is packed with nutrients and vitamins and offers loads of valuable dietary fibre – yet it is very low in fat. As well as being striking with their orange, yellow or purple curds, the various coloured types all have something to offer in the form of additional cancer-fighting antioxidants and can certainly add interest on the plate.

“Cauliflower is packed with nutrients and vitamins and offers loads of valuable dietary fibre”

HOW TO GROW

The secret to good cauliflowers really does lie in the soil; they like a rich, deep soil with a pH of between 6.5 and 7.5 and the ground needs to be firm before planting to encourage tight curds. You should also choose a reasonably sunny spot and, bearing in mind that winter/spring-cropping varieties will be growing through the coldest months, a sheltered spot not in a frost pocket (an area, often at the base of a slope, where cold air collects in the winter). Unfortunately, cauliflowers are not quite as hardy as their cousins the cabbages and Brussels sprouts. Rather than overwintering on very cold sites, it might be better to sow in January for cutting in June/July.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

In this month's issue of Kitchen Garden ... - £2814 Worth of garden goodies to be won - Get the buzz for heavier harvests 6 easy ways to bigger pickings - A taste of summer with courgettes, cherries and beetroot - Make crumbly compost in just 4 weeks! - The future of seeds post-prexit - 25 crops that sow themselves - The secret of keeping Bantams - Garden cleaning products on test - Grow a great lawn - Cauliflowers made easy