Learn Ways to Make this Finicky Crop Happy
Subspecies: Pastinaca sativa
The most unpredictable vegetable in the cole family, cauliflower thrives under moderate temperature and moisture conditions.
In addition to the traditional white, cauliflower also comes in purple, orange and yellow-green colored varieties.
Growing cauliflower adds a unique presence to flower beds and landscape arrangements. Read on for our full guide on how to grow cauliflower in your own garden.
Cauliflower is difficult to start with seed in the garden. It is more productive to start seeds in peat pots or soil blocks early in the spring. Move the seedlings to the garden or raised bed in 4 – 6 weeks, or when plants reach a height of 4 – 5 inches. Cauliflower heads can be kept white, by string tying the outer leaves over the heads. Cauliflower needs rich, well balanced soil. If soil lacks the necessary nutrients, add a basic fertilizer every 4 – 6 weeks.
If you choose to plant seed directly in the garden, cauliflower seeds can be planted every 3 weeks until late June, for a season long harvest. Raised beds work best for this method because they offer root protection and discourage worms and beetles. Do not use soil in the bed for any cole crop, including cauliflower, for at least two growing seasons.
Cauliflower roots are close to the surface; avoid working the soil with garden tools. Mulch the surface to protect roots, prevent weeds and maintain moisture content. Do not reuse mulch that has been used for another cole crops. It may contain pests that will damage the cauliflower seedlings.
Too much direct sun, or too many days of exposure to high temperatures can cause the cauliflower heads to turn grainy.
Cauliflower is ready for harvesting when the heads are 1.5 inches across, are tightly packed and firm.
The best early cauliflower is Fremont. Fremont produces dependably and is adaptable to a a variety of soil and temperature conditions.
Graffiti is a beautiful cauliflower with brilliant purple heads. They are a true cauliflower and while they are best for fall harvesting, they also do well if planted in early spring.
Remove Cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage. Row covers need to be removed from the plant rows once summer temperatures are consistently above 78°F.
Diatomaceous earth and row covers can be used to control flea beetles.
If Cabbage Root Maggots are present the plants will show wilting and may eventually die. Plants should be cleaned and transplanted. Larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting and eventually death of the plants.
A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done before the sun is directly overhead so plants will not be scorched.
Place in a plastic bag or airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Cauliflower will keep well in the refrigerator for a week, but will be crunchiest and most flavorful the first 3 days.