Botanical name: Brassica oleracea
Plant type: Vegetable
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Loamy
Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral
Flower color: White
Bloom time: Spring
Cauliflower is a cool-season crop and a descendant of the common cabbage. It is more difficult to grow than its relatives because it does not tolerate the heat or cold as well.
- It is best to start cauliflower from transplants rather than seeds. Do not transplant sooner than 2 to 3 weeks before the average frost date in the spring.
- Space the transplants 18 to 24 inches apart, using the wider space for fall planting, in fertile, well-drained soil. Use starter fertilizer when transplanting.
- Plant fall cauliflower about the same time as fall cabbage.
- If you want to start cauliflower from seeds, start the seeds 4 to 5 weeks before the plants are needed. Plant the seeds in rows 3 to 6 inches apart and 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch deep. Do not forget to water the seeds during their germination and growth. Once they become seedlings, transplant them to their permanent place in the garden.
- Make sure that the plants have uninterrupted growth. Any interruption can cause the plants to develop a head prematurely or ruin the edible part completely.
- Cauliflower requires consistent soil moisture. For best growth, side-dress the plants with a nitrogen fertilizer and water the plants regularly.
- When the curd (the white head) is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, tie the outer leaves together over the head with a rubber band, tape, or twine. This is called blanching, and it protects the head from the sun.
- The plants are usually ready for harvest 7 to 12 days after blanching.
- When the heads are compact, white, and firm, then it is time to harvest them.
- Cut the heads off the plant with a large knife. Be sure to leave some of the leaves around the head to keep it protected.
- If the cauliflower has a coarse appearance, it is too mature and should be tossed.
- If you want to store cauliflower, you can put the head in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last for about a week.
- For long-term storage, you can also freeze or pickle the heads.
- 'Snowball', which produces medium heads and a good yield throughout the growing season.
- 'Orange', which has a similar taste to the white cauliflower but has more vitamin A.
Wit & Wisdom
Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
-Mark Twain (1835-1910)