How to Grow Cauliflower Vegetable
As a member of the cabbage family, cauliflower likes the cooler weather of
spring and autumn. They will go dormant in the hottest days of summer. The
cabbage family is well known to withstand frost and freezes. But, cauliflower
is less cold hardy than other members of this family.
The majority of cauliflower is grown as a fall crop. Serious cauliflower
growers will grow both a spring and a fall crop. Cauliflower does not do
well in mid-summer's heat.
The plant produces just one, large head. You harvest and eat the immature
Did You Know? Broccoli and Cauliflower are the only two vegetables
that are also flowers
Most varieties, like Early Snowball, produce white heads. There is a variety
that produces a light green head, making it quite novel.
Did you know? Cauliflower heads are called "Curds".
Days to Harvest:
Varies by variety, approximately 55 - 70 days
How to Grow Cauliflower Plants:
Growing cauliflower is a little more difficult than other members of the
cabbage family. This is largely due to the need to cover and "blanch" the
Cauliflower plants like cool weather. Many growers plant both a spring and
fall crop. For a spring crop, start indoors four to six weeks before
the last frost in your area. Transplant spring crops into the garden after
the last frost date in your area. Fall crops can be directly seeded into
Cauliflower plants grow best in full sun. The soil should be rich and well
drained, with plenty of organic matter. A slightly alkaline soil is best.
Ideal soil ph: 5.5 - 7.5 More on soil
Watering is important. Cauliflower plants need regular, even watering. Do
not allow the soil to dry. Fertilize when planting and at regular intervals.
The combination of ample water and regular fertilizing is important to vigorous
growth, and development of a big, healthy head.
The heads are covered, or "blanched", for two reasons. Covering the heads
helps protect it from rotting. It also helps to produce the white color and
Blanch the heads as soon as the curd gets 2-4 inches in diameter. This is
done by covering the head with the large leaves just below the head. Use
garden twine to tie the leaves loosely around the head. The object is to
protect the head from light and water, while letting air in. As the head
grows, loosen and re-tie the leaves, as needed.
Harvest Cauliflower when the flower head is full, and the florets are still
Timing of harvest is very important to taste. Food quality and taste
rapidly deteriorates as the flowerets begin to separate and open, and
as the head turns from a creamy white to brown.
Insects and Pests:
The most common pest of cauliflower is cabbage flies, and cabbage worm or
cabbage loopers. Cabbage loopers are the larva stage of a moth. Those white
moths that visit your garden and yard are the culprits. Some people call
them white butterflies.
Effective treatment in the home garden is to place a screen over the plant
so the moth can not lay her eggs. Commercial growers apply insecticides to
The heads of the cauliflower is susceptible to rotting in warm, humid weather.
That's one of the two big reasons to protect the head (curd) from water.
All members of the cabbage family like cool to cold weather. They can be
among the first plants in your garden each spring. Start them indoors, and
plant them before the last frost, freeze or snow.
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