How To Grow Cauliflower

How To Grow Cauliflower
Purple self-blanching cauliflower

How To Grow Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family (cabbage family) that grows in the cool season. It requires good timing in order to get the cauliflower to develop. If planted late in spring, it may get too warm, and then the heads are likely to not develop. Also, in the fall, it will not tolerate a hard frost. 

Cauliflower has a great amount of vitamins C and K.  It also has vitamin B6, B5 among others, and various anti-cancer phyto-chemicals that help fight cancers. It also has a lots of minerals. In addition to all these nutrients, it also has a good amount of protein and fiber. An amazing vegetable.

Growing Conditions

Cauliflower requires full sun but a light shade will help during when the weather warms up and the heads are trying to develop. It needs well-drained soil with lots of organic matter and tolerates slightly sweet soil with a higher pH up to 7.5.  A pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 is best.

Cauliflower requires good moisture all through the growing season. Also, the root system is very shallow, so weeding the plants with care is essential. Therefore, it is best to place a good amount of straw to keep weeds down and maintain moisture in the soil.

Plants can get as high as two feet tall and spread to around three feet. The leaves can be dark green or medium green, and some have white stems and veins. Want to know more about growing vegetables get ‘Garden the Organic Way‘ https://gardentheorganicway.etsy.com 

Seedlings and Spacing

Seeds will germinate at low temperatures of 40°F but do best at around 70°F. Keep seedlings indoors in the spring for four to six weeks prior to the last frost before placing them outside. Plants should be kept cool at around 60°F, with good lighting to prevent them from getting leggy. Once the soil is workable and danger of frost has passed in the spring, plant between 15” to 24” apart in the row and 24” to 30” apart between rows. Best to transplant while the seedlings are young and have only four or five true leaves.

For fall planting, you can direct seed in late summer about four to six inches apart and then thin out plants to the proper spacing. To learn more about seedlings https://www.gardeningtheorganicway.com/vegetables/how-to-start-seedlings/

Blanching of Heads

Cauliflowers comes in different colors and types. The colors can be purple, yellow-green, orange and white. We are most used to seeing the white varieties, but these varieties in particular require blanching.  To blanch the cauliflower, you tie the outer leaves with string or a rubber band at the top in order to shade and protect the cauliflower growing in the center. You do this when the head is small-around two to three inches in diameter. If exposed to the sun, the cauliflower will burn and turn brown. There are varieties that are self-blanching.  

Harvesting

Once the heads are tied and begin to develop it takes between a week to a month for them to fully develop. As soon as the head is big enough, you can start harvesting them. If it starts to get to hot in the summer then harvest all of them or if a hard frost is coming in the fall. They will tolerate a slight frost but not a hard frost.

The whole cabbage family being protected from pest using row covers. 

Protection Against Pest

Using row covers is a great idea to keep the cabbage worms, flea beetles and other pest out. Once the weather warms up in the spring you have to remove the row cover otherwise it will get to hot inside the area and the heads will not develop. Hand pick any that manage to get inside. Handpicking works if you look for them in the crevices of the leaves close to the main stem. To learn more about row covers https://www.gardeningtheorganicway.com/maintenance/season-extenders-vegetables/  Rotate crops on a three to four year cycle to prevent diseases. The whole family has to be taken into consideration in the rotation of crops.

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