Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that resembles the white version of broccoli. It’s a cool-season crop that grows in spring and fall. It is also from the Cole family that includes kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and collards. Let’s explore How To Grow Cauliflower? The key to growing great cauliflower is to ensure they have consistently cool temperatures. So, if you’re interested to grow them from your home garden timing is important for you to start at the right temperature.
This vegetable is stacked with vitamins B, C, K, fiber, and beta carotene. Cauliflower can be found in a variety of colors including orange, white, purple, and green. However, white is the standard and most popular color grown and sold in grocery stores. See Cauliflower Benefits And Nutrition
Green cauliflower is often called broccoflower because it looks and has a texture much like broccoli. It is also filled with more fiber than the other colors. Purple cauliflower though very rare is the healthiest of all. It’s linked to the reduction of inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Like the orange cauliflower, it is filled with higher antioxidants than the ordinary white.
For beginners who will be growing cauliflower for the first time, it’s quite tricky to get them to form at the appropriate size. This is due to the vegetable’s requirement for a temperature that is cool enough at an estimated 60˚ F. Without this they may form too small, somewhat like “buttons” rather than into a large head. To avoid harvesting button head cauliflower here are a few things to consider.
Planting in Spring and Fall
The time you choose to plant should be within the time of fall which is best if you live in a warm climate. Planting in spring is also acceptable too. Purchasing the seedlings has a much high success rate than starting from the seeds because cauliflower can be very demanding about tiny details to grow.
If you do decide to start from the seed, however, sow it indoors for about 4 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date in a biodegradable pot.
This will allow you to transplant the whole pot instead of unearthing the seedlings and causing root damage. Place the seeds in a container in 3 rows, 6 inches apart and only ½ inch deep into the soil.
As they are young plants ensure your tools are sanitary to avoid exposing the germinating seeds to disease. Create a routine to always water consistently during germination and growth. Within 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date, you’ll be able to transfer them outside into your garden.
If you decide to plant cauliflower during the fall, do so between 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost date but only when the daytime temperature is below 75˚ F.
Where to Plant?
The cauliflower plants should be partially shaded from the parching summer sun. In this case, choosing a location that has taller trees in your garden will help. The soil needs to be loamy and rich in organic matter; manure or compost.
These should be added 2 weeks before planting so all the nutrients can be properly integrated into the soil. The more fertile the soil the less likely it will be that the cauliflower may have button heads. For best growth and to avoid clubroot disease, the soil pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8. To test the dirt in your garden you can purchase a kit if you aren’t quite sure.
How to Plant?
To plant the seedling here are a few steps to follow:
Step 1 – Plant the seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart from each other for proper root development and spreading.
Step 2 – In the early parts of spring, you’ll need to improvise to protect the plants from frost. You can use old milk jugs to cover them to modify the cold if needed.
Step 3 – Add mulch to the base of the plant to preserve moisture and warmth.
As a cauliflower grows try not to interrupt the process. They dislike unwanted changes to their temperature, and soil nutrition. These can cause the vegetable to turn out premature or ruin another existing one.
Your watering routine should involve 2 inches of water per square foot every week. This should be done regardless if there is rainfall because they need subsidiary watering. The head of the cauliflower will start out quite loose and over time develop and form. It may take up to 75 or 85 days from the transplant to be fully developed. It seems like a very long time but just be patient.
If the heads turn out to be brown then that signals that there is soil deficiency. What you’ll need to do is add 1 tablespoon of borax to a gallon of water and do this every 2 weeks until the brown is gone.
Then add more compost to the soil for added nutrients. If you planted white cauliflower and their heads look pink, that indicates they’re being too exposed to the sun. On the other hand, a purple hue shows that the soil is not very fertile so add some more compost.
When the head is approximately 2 or 3 inches in diameter then blanch it. Use an elastic band or cord to tie the outer leaves together over the head to keep light out. This technique should only be used on the white cauliflowers. Normally after blanching, they’ll be ready for harvest within 7 to 12 days.
Diseases and Treatment
While it may seem fit to stress about the constant attention that cauliflower needs another important matter to stress on are disease and pest treatment. The best way to avoid all the hassle is to keep your garden clean and the soil and plants healthy. Some diseases that may affect some gardeners’ cauliflower include:
- Bacterial Soft Rot
This is quite visible when there is a surface of lesions on the cauliflower which usually crack and secrete a form of slimy white liquid. As it becomes more exposed to air it then turns to a dark brown or black color. It could be formed by overwatering, unsanitary tools, or disease that emerged from too much heat.
If the leaves of the vegetable appear yellow and wilted, then chances are its clubroot. This is often paired with signs of swollen roots slowing down the growth of the plant. Clubroot is often caused by fungus and can be hard to distinguish from nematode damage. Adding lime to the soil can reduce the fungus.
- Cauliflower Mosaic
There can be a visible pattern of mosaic on the leaves of the cauliflower and this can reduce plant growth. What causes this is often the residence of cabbage aphids. Controlling weeds that could be housing the disease and aphids with insecticides will solve that problem.
There are several other diseases that can impact cauliflower including powdery mildew, ring spot. Pests are also prone to take a habit of inviting themselves into your gardens such as cabbage worms, and flea beetles. All these can be treated to ensure that your vegetables have the time and nutrients they need to fully develop.
After all the hard work you put in, harvesting cauliflower should be ready within 50 to 200 days. Depending on the variety some gardeners wait between 7 to 10 days after blanching to harvest.
The heads should be white, compact, and firm. Usually, the heads are 6 to 8 inches in diameter so you’ll know when it is fully ready.
Use a large knife to cut the heads off the plant but ensure that some of the leaves are left around the head to protect it. Some of the heads may be very small but begin to open up, they will not get any better so it’s best to harvest them. Cauliflower that has a very coarse look is beyond mature and should be thrown away.
Soaking the cauliflower heads in saltwater is recommended for up to 30 minutes. This will get rid of any cabbage worms that are hidden in the heads. They’ll quickly wash out and die so that they can be safe for eating and storage.
Storing cauliflower is easy just put the heads in a clear plastic bag and refrigerate. They will remain fresh for a week. If you want them to last longer you can Freeze or pickle the heads.
That’s it! All you need to know about planting, growing, and harvesting cauliflower. Read up on the other blog posts and stay tuned for future updates on healthier steps for a healthy lifestyle.
- Cauliflower Tikka Masala
- Gluten-Free Vegan Cauliflower Hash Browns
- Cauliflower Nuggets
- Jamaican Jerk Cauliflower
- Cauliflower Fried Rice
Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.
Fortunately, because of the Ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.