Want to learn how to grow cauliflower? You’ve come to the right place. When grown in cool weather, Cauliflower plants are not the easiest plant to grow. But, the result is worth the effort. is easy to grow. However, this cool-weather crop definitely does not like the heat and humidity of mid-summer.
As a member of the cabbage family, cauliflower likes the cooler weather of spring and autumn. They will go dormant on the hottest days of summer. The cabbage family is well known to withstand frost or a freeze. 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 heat.
The plant produces just one, large head. You harvest and eat the immature flower head.
Did You Know? Broccoli and Cauliflower are two of just a few vegetables where you eat the flowers.
Most varieties, like Early Snowball, produce white heads.
There are three other varieties: green, orange, and purple heads.,
Did you know? Cauliflower heads are called “Curds”.
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 head.
The plants like cool weather. Many home gardeners 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 the garden.
The plants grow best in full sun. The soil should be rich and well-drained, with plenty of organic matter. Also, a slightly alkaline soil is best.
Ideal soil ph: 5.5 – 7.5 More on soil pH
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 promote vigorous growth, and the development of a big, healthy head.
Soil Temperatures – Ideal germination temperature by vegetable
Ideal Soil pH – by vegetable
The heads are covered, or “blanched”, for two reasons. Covering the head helps protect it from rotting. And it also helps to produce the white color and improve flavor.
Blanch the heads as soon as the curd gets 2-4 inches in diameter. This is done by covering the head with 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.
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. While some people call them white butterflies, gardeners call them an insect pest.
Effective treatment in the home garden is to place a screen over the plant so the moth cannot lay her eggs. Commercial growers apply insecticides to control them.
The heads of the cauliflower are susceptible to rotting in warm, humid weather. That’s one of the two big reasons to protect the head (curd) from water.
Days to Harvest: Varies by variety, approximately 55 – 70 days.
Harvest Cauliflower when the flower head is full, and the florets are still tightly packed.
The timing of harvest is very important to the taste. In fact, food quality and taste rapidly deteriorate as the flowerets begin to separate and open, and as the head turns from a creamy white to brown.
All members of the cabbage family like cool to cold weather. And they can be among the first plants in your garden each spring. Start them indoors, and plant them before the last frost, freeze, or even snowfall.