Growing Cauliflower: Planting & Care Tips

Did you know you can grow densely packed clusters of vitamin-rich cauliflower right in your backyard?

Cauliflower, a cool-weather crop, is best grown in the spring, fall and winter. Although cauliflower can be grown in the summer, it will bolt if the temperature is too high. Cauliflower plants produce compact, milder-tasting florets than other brassicas. Although cauliflower heads are primarily white, there are many exciting color options for this vitamin-rich crop. The nutritional value of cauliflower is the same regardless of the color. All varieties are high in vitamins C, K and E, antioxidants and folate. The plants grow to 18 to 36 inches in height and have large, green leaves. They also have a central stalk that contains flower buds. These flowers can be harvested for food. Cauliflower can be a great addition to your vegetable garden, but it can be difficult to care for and know what to look out for.

The ideal soil composition for growing Cauliflower

Amend your garden soil with rich organic matter and well decomposed compost. Cauliflower thrives in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil that is pH 6.0 to 7.0. You can get a soil test kit at your local garden center, or you can bring a sample of soil to your local extension office to have it tested.

Where to grow Cauliflower

Cauliflower can grow in containers, raised beds or in the ground in a backyard. The plant roots must be kept cool to ensure a happy plant and successful growth. Mulch around the plants will help to regulate the temperature and humidity levels.

How to Grow Cauliflower

Cauliflower can also be started indoors or from seeds directly in the soil. Combining both of these methods can guarantee the subsequent harvest of these vitamin rich garden treasures.

  • To ensure an early summer harvest, plant seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost of spring.
  • To grow a fall or winter crop, plant seeds in the garden from mid-to late summer.
  • If you live in a warm winter area, you may be able to plant in the fall for a winter harvest.
  • You can extend the growing season in colder areas by using row covers or cold frames.
  • When seedlings are at least 6 weeks old and have four to five leaves, you can transplant them into your garden.
  • To get the seedlings used to the outdoors, you can leave them outside for a few days before placing them in the ground. To help your plant’s stability, plant cauliflower seedlings so the stem is just below the lowest leaf.

Ideal Cauliflower Plant Spacing

Transplant seedlings 18-24 inches apart in rows spaced 24 to 36 inches apart. Plant the seeds at least 1/2 inch deep, and 4 inches apart if you are sowing directly. You might also consider planting seeds in the same garden as your transplanted seedlings. Or, you could try different varieties that have different maturation dates.

The Best Temperature to Grow Cauliflower

Cauliflower should only be grown when the temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some varieties can tolerate lower temperatures from time to time. The average daily temperature for this brassica plant should not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, it can become a bolter and go to seed.

How to Water Cauliflower

Regularly water the plant, preferably from the base. Too much water can lead to undesirable mold growth on cauliflower plants. You might consider using a soaker-hose irrigation system to water your cauliflower plants. When the plant reaches maturity, you will need to water less often.

Cauliflower Growing: Nutrients

Cauliflower plants require nitrogen to grow well. They need a side-dressing with fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Plants will thrive if they are fed well-decomposed compost and worm castings, bat guano, and fish meal.

Cauliflower Growing Problems

The most common pest to plague cauliflower plants are cabbage loopers, which hatch from cabbage moths and lay their eggs on the leaves’ undersides. It is very difficult to see the larvae that crawl into the tiny spaces between the cauliflower heads.

  • Row covers are a great way to deter moths laying eggs on your plants.
  • After harvesting, you should soak your cauliflower heads in saltwater for at least ten mins. This will kill any worms in the cauliflower heads before you can eat them. Because they can’t survive in salt solutions, the larvae will float to the surface of the water.
  • However, you can also remove worms from plants by hand. This can prove difficult as they hide well in the florets.
  • You can also spray Bacillus Thuringiensis organic pesticide on your plants to control pests like those that plague cauliflower plants.
  • Companion planting can be a useful deterrent to discourage cabbage loopers. Plant celery next to your brassica plants. The cauliflower companion planting method will keep the white cabbage moth away from your garden beds, since celery’s fragrant leaves repel it.

How long does it take for cauliflower to grow?

Your cauliflower’s success is dependent on understanding when to harvest it.

It can be difficult to know what to look out for. When the cauliflower crowns are firm, large and full, harvest it. It’s important to harvest your cauliflower crop immediately if you notice the edges of the head becoming looser or yellowing. Picking flowers that are firm and tight to the touch is the best time. The head of the cauliflower florets will begin to flower if they are left on the plant beyond its prime time. If this happens, don’t worry too much as long as it is detected early. Even though the taste is not optimal, the produce can still be eaten. However, it cannot be stored or frozen and should be consumed immediately.

Harvesting Cauliflower

You can either cut off the stalk about 5 inches below the crown’s final buds, or you can use a sharp knife and remove the entire crown. You can remove the main head of the buds, but leave the rest of the plant. Small shoots might continue to grow later.

Cauliflower varieties that are recommended

The cauliflower plant’s color doesn’t affect its mild, sweet flavor, but it is exciting to grow several eye-catching varieties. Here are some of our favorite varieties:

  • The Mulberry Hybrid produces striking purple heads.
  • The Flame Star Hybrid produces beautiful yellowish-orange heads.
  • The Snowball variety produces tightly formed white heads.
  • The Cheddar Hybrid produces orange heads that look like cheddar cheese.

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