Sun-loving cauliflower is a cool-season crop that can be grown in the spring and fall. The edible white flesh of cauliflower, an annual plant in the Brassica family, is exceptionally nutritious and regarded as a “superfood.”
The Latin words caulis, meaning cabbage, and floris, meaning flower, are used to create the name of this vegetable. It is a wild cabbage ancestor! Similar to its relative broccoli, cauliflower has tightly packed florets joined by a substantial core, which is frequently surrounded by a few small leaves.
Cauliflower does appear in several colours, such as purple, yellow, and orange, despite typically being white. Regardless of colour, the flavour is always moderate, somewhat sweet, and a touch nutty.
Since cauliflower demands consistently cool temperatures in the 60°F range, it might be difficult for novice gardeners to grow it. Otherwise, instead of creating a single, huge head, it might prematurely “button”—form small, button-size heads.
Before planting, mix old manure and/or compost into the bed; the soil must be very rich in organic matter. Apply 5-10-10 fertiliser to the planting site as an option. Heads tend not to button in fertile soil.
Cauliflower Planting Season
Although it can be planted in the spring, cauliflower grows best in the fall.
As cauliflower can be picky, we advise purchasing cauliflower seedlings (also known as “transplants”) rather than growing them from seed.
planting in spring:
- Start seeds inside four to five weeks prior to the last spring frost date if you’re starting from scratch.
- 2 to 4 weeks prior to the last spring frost date, plant seedlings outside.
An autumn crop should be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the first date of the fall frost but after the daily high temperature has fallen below 75 degrees.
- Plant seeds up to a half inch deep and 3 to 6 inches apart in rows.
- With 30 inches between rows, space plants 18 to 24 inches apart.
- Be prepared to cover plants with old milk jugs in the early spring to protect them from frost, if required. Extreme cold can cause buttons to form or stop growth.
- If necessary, provide plants with shade during the summer.
- During germination and growth, water regularly. Mulch helps retain moisture.
- Any obstruction to its growth irritates cauliflower. The plants may produce a head early or may destroy an existing one due to changes in temperature, moisture, soil nutrition, or insects.
- Even with typical rainfall, this frequently necessitates additional watering. Water consistently with 2 inches of water per square foot each week.
- Three to four weeks after transplanting, side-dress the plants with a high-nitrogen fertiliser for the optimum development.
- Keep in mind that the head of the cauliflower will initially be loose and that it will take some time for the head to fully form. From transplant, many kinds require at least 75 to 85 days. Be tolerant!
- A soil deficit in boron is indicated by brown heads. 1 tablespoon of borax in 1 gallon of water should be drenched. (Avoid boron contact with other plants.) Alternately, provide liquid seaweed extract right away; do this once every two weeks until symptoms go away. Increase the soil’s compost content going forward.
- Pink heads on white cultivars may be a sign of excessive sun exposure or temperature changes. Stress or low soil fertility may cause purple tints.
Cauliflower Head Blanching
Blanch the curd (the white head) when it is 2 to 3 inches in diameter. To block light, twine, tape, or rubber bands can be used to tie the outer leaves together over the head. (For self-blanching or coloured cultivars, this is not necessary.) After blanching, the plants are typically ready for harvest 7 to 12 days later.
- Depending on the cultivar, plants are typically ready to harvest in 50 to 100 days, or 7 to 12 days after blanching.
- The moment to harvest the heads will come when they are compact, white, and solid. The heads should expand to a diameter of 6 to 8 inches.
- Use a broad knife to cut the plant’s heads off. To shield the head, make sure to leave some of the leaves on the ground.
- The heads should be harvested right away if they are too little but have already started to open up.
- The cauliflower should be thrown away if it appears coarse since it is past its prime.
How to Keep Cauliflower Fresh
- Heads should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. They ought to persist for around a week.
- You can also freeze or pickle the heads for long-term storage. Cut into 1-inch-bite-sized pieces for freezing. Blanch for three minutes in water with a little salt. After three minutes in an ice bath, drain, and package. enclose, then freeze.