Cauliflower

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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 than its relatives because it does not tolerate the heat or cold as well. For this reason, cauliflower is usually grown commercially.

If you plant to attempt growing cauliflower in the home garden, it requires consistently cool temperatures with temperatures in the 60s. Otherwise, it prematurely "button"—form small button-size heads—rather than forming one, nice white head.

Planting

  • Select a site with at lesat 6 hours of full sun.
  • Soil needs be very rich in organic matter; add composted mature to the soil before planting. Fertile soil holds in moiture to prevent heads from "buttoning."
  • Test your soil! (Get a soil test through your cooperative extension office.) The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8.
  • It is best to start cauliflower from transplants rather than seeds. Transplant 2 to 4 weeks before the average frost date in the spring, no sooner and not much later.
  • Space the transplants 18 to 24 inches apart with 30 inches between rows. Use starter fertilizer when transplanting.
  • Plant fall cauliflower about the same time as fall cabbage. This is usually 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost and also need to be after the temperature is below 75 degrees F.
  • If you really want to try starting 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.
  • In early spring, be ready to cover your plants with old milk jugs or protection if needed. For fall crops, shade them if they need protection from the heat.
  • Add mulch to conserve moisture.

Care

  • 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. They need 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week; with normal rainfall, this usually requires supplement watering.
  • For best growth, side-dress the plants with a nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Note that the cauliflower will start out as a loose head and it takes time for the head to form. Many varieties take at least 75 to 85 days from transplant. Be patient.
  • 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 and helps you get that pretty white color.
  • The plants are usually ready for harvest 7 to 12 days after blanching.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • When the heads are compact, white, and firm, then it is time to harvest them. Ideally, the heads will grow 6 to 8 inches in diameter.
  • 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 heads are too small but have started to open up, they will not improve and should be harvested.
  • 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.

Recommended Varieties

  • '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.

 

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
     -Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Comments

I'm having amazing luck

By Jim C

I'm having amazing luck growing Snow Crown Cauliflower in a NFT hydroponic system indoors. I have beautiful white heads that I expect to harvest in the next couple weeks. I use masterblend hydroponic fertilizer and a little Superthrive. Almost trouble free.....change the water every couple weeks and don't let it go dry. My plants have never seen soil.

i want to grow cauliflower in

By susanta kumar biawas

i want to grow cauliflower in may to july in orissa nabarangapur disr and again from august. how can i grow in that season and verity of seed please give in detail.

I planted cauliflower in our

By Daya Vyaghra

I planted cauliflower in our farm this year for the first time in Nagpur India. There was beautiful growth of heads but Some how after 45 days, they started having purple colouration on them. What could be the reason? What is the remedy?

get cauliflower plants well

By Michael Stenger

get cauliflower plants well started and transplant in garden with miracle gro potting soil..add sea weed when watering..put down mulch, cover with bone meal and kelp meal...results are astounding...same procedure is perfect for broccoli

from personal experience mg

By motdrads

from personal experience mg soil will never be bought by me again. One year it ruined my whole green house of transplants. The way its bagged and stored outside in most garden centers keeps it moist too long and it not only becomes far to acidic but the ferts in it leach out of it making it just potting soil that you paid too much for.Find a nurserey that you can buy some of what they use(wont be mg) use that or compost . Another reason not to are the chemical ferts they use...not good

i am from st. lucia in the

By paul ernest

i am from st. lucia in the caribbean i have a question can i plant cauliflower in a green house

my cauliflower made deformed

By lindalu47

my cauliflower made deformed heads (i think it was too hot) we're trying it in our greenhouse. my question is how do i prepare it for winter? do i put it outside, cut it down to a small stalk, what?

There are overwintering

By Almanac Staff

There are overwintering varieties of cauliflower that you start in July to early August. If you live in a region that doesn't get freezing temps. you can grow these outdoors.

First year trying

By Shawn Marr

First year trying cauliflower. I got very large plants but no heads. any thoughts?

Cauliflower is a challenging

By Almanac Staff

Cauliflower is a challenging crop for the home grower which is why you rarely find it outside of commercial growers. The main reason that cauliflower does not head nicely is because of temperature. Cauliflower likes it cool.  Temperatures need to be in the 60s for those perfect round heads, not much warmer or colder. It is best grown in most regions in the fall after the temperature gets lower than 75 degrees but will not fall below 30 degrees. You also want fertile soil enriched with compost, six hours of direct sunlight, and even and continual moisture.

from what iam reading from

By emmanuel

from what iam reading from these questions is it that cauliflower head can develop another one if the original head is harvested?

Nope. Your objective for a

By Almanac Staff

Nope. Your objective for a cauliflower plant is to grow one nice head. If you cut it off, it will not grow another. It may grow side shoots, but that's it.

why have my cauliflowers gone

By ruth megraw

why have my cauliflowers gone brown .. they were nice and white one day a few days later the heads are brown ..why

The most common reason for

By Almanac Staff

The most common reason for cauliflower turning brown is boron-deficient soil. If this happens, provide foliar feed with liquid seaweed extract immediately, and repeat every 2 weeks until the symptoms disappear. In the future, add more compost to the soil.

another reason for many

By motdrads

another reason for many problems are mineral deficiencies try rock dust look on you tube to see the wonderful results it gives many swear by it . This will be my first year trying it buy from what I have seen and read wont be the last

Are the side shoots worth

By barbara cooper

Are the side shoots worth saving? Harvested large inner head but is putting out side shoots like broccoli. Are they worthtrying to save?

Side shoots are bonus! Enjoy!

By Almanac Staff

Side shoots are bonus! Enjoy! Many varieties of cauliflower do not develop side shoots, though some cultivars will produce as long as you leave a few leaves on the plant (eg., Green Comet). This can extend the harvest period for a month or more.

Third time's a charm?

By tridoc927

This will be my third year trying to grow cauliflower. And this time I am starting with seed for purple cauliflower. Can't grow the white stuff so going to another color. First year huge plants no heads. Second year small heads and blossomed quickly. So cross your fingers!

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