How to Grow Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica oleracea genus, which also includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale. Cauliflower, like other Brassica crops, needs a lot of space in the garden to grow, especially in its second year.
Time of Planting It can be difficult to determine when cauliflower plants should be planted. Plants incline toward steady, cool climate (60 degrees F is great) and won’t deliver a full head in the event that temperatures are excessively high. From 55 to 100 days, maturation can take a long time. Typically, cauliflower plants are planted in flats before being moved to the garden. Seedlings should be started indoors at least four to six weeks before you plan to transplant them.
Requirements for Spacing Plant cauliflower seeds 14 inch deep. In the garden, place cauliflower 24 inches apart.
Time to Germination 3-10 days Special Considerations Northern gardeners may transplant seedlings into the garden early in the spring after the threat of hard frost has passed, or they may try planting in the late summer for a harvest in the fall. Southern nursery workers will make progress developing plants whenever in the fall and winter when hard ice can be kept away from and temperatures are reliably cool.
Pests and diseases that cauliflower commonly encounters in the garden include the cabbage butterfly, the cabbage looper, and flea beetles. Black rot, downy mildew, and other diseases can also affect cauliflower. Row cover can protect cauliflower, broccoli, and other Brassica crops from early damage from pests like flea beetles.
When and How to Harvest When the cauliflower heads on the plant are large and firm, remove them from the plant. Cauliflower heads can lose their color and become mushy if they are left on the plant for too long. Preventing discoloration can be made easier by blanching, or covering the developing head with the plant’s own leaves.
Cauliflower can be eaten raw, cooked, steamed, roasted, stir-fried, or pureed. It is a vegetable that can be blanched, frozen, and stored for the winter that is extremely versatile.