How to Plant and Care for Cauliflowers

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea, Botrytis group) is one of many cabbage crops related to cabbage that enjoy cool weather. This vegetable has a very distinctive nutty flavor and is similar to broccoli in flavor. The main edible part of cauliflower and broccoli is the flower bud, which makes them edible flowers.

Cauliflower is not the easiest vegetable to grow because it is very sensitive to changes in temperature. However, with a little love, it can be a very satisfying vegetable for your garden.

You will have many more variety options if you start your cauliflower with seeds. White varieties must be blanched, covering the head with its leaves.

Purple varieties get their color from anthocyanin, an antioxidant. Unfortunately, both the color and benefits fade with cooking. Orange cauliflower is the result of a lucky accident (a mutation). It gets its color from a relatively high beta-carotene content.

Cauliflower plants like cool (but not cold) weather and are best planted in early spring (for an early summer harvest) or mid-summer (for a fall harvest). They have a moderately slow growth rate and are ready to be harvested within two to three months after planting, depending on the type.

How to plant cauliflower

Start sowing indoors about four to six weeks before the average date of the last frost. Cauliflower does not like to be bothered by the roots, so peat or paper pots are recommended.

Plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and keep the soil moist. They will sprout faster if they are kept warm, between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whether you're planting your own seedlings or store-bought ones, be sure to harden your transplants before placing them in the garden. Space the plants 18 to 60 centimeters apart so that the outer leaves have enough space.

Cauliflower plants are biennial plants that are typically grown as annuals. However, if you want to preserve seeds, you will need to leave some plants unharvested, perhaps for the winter, with some protection from the cold.

Cauliflower care

  • Light:

Cauliflowers grow best in full sun, although a little partial shade can help keep them from shedding in warmer climates.

  • Soil:

Cauliflower needs soil rich in organic matter, with a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil should be well-drained, but cauliflower needs constant moisture to avoid buttoning (very small flower growth rather than a single large head).

  • Watering:

Cauliflower needs constant and abundant moisture. Without enough water, heads turn sour. Provide at least 1 inch of water per week and make sure it penetrates 6 to 8 inches into the soil.

Leaving the soil dry in hot weather will cause the buds to open slightly, making the buds "bold" rather than forming a tight curd.

  • Temperature and humidity:

Cauliflower likes cold weather but is sensitive to frost. It begins to suffer temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is usually planted in spring or fall and harvested before or after the hottest days of summer. Mulch plants at planting time to keep the soil cool and help retain moisture.

  • Fertilizer:

Since cauliflower takes a long time to ripen, some additional feeding will be needed. Feed every two to four weeks with an organic fertilizer like seaweed or fish emulsion.

Harvest

Most varieties of cauliflower take about two months to mature, although some are slightly faster and others can take up to three months. Since they do not form heads in hot climates and can only withstand a light frost, be sure to choose a variety that has sufficient time to mature in your climate.

This means a quick-maturing variety if spring or fall is short. Longer maturing varieties are good choices for gardeners with mild or late winters. Gardeners in cold climates tend to have better luck placing transplants in mid to late summer and harvesting in the fall.

Harvest when the buds reach the desired size and while the buds are still firm. Don't leave them too long or the flowers will open. It would be best to cut them when they are ripe and freeze them for later use.

Another option is to raise the entire plant and store, roots, stem, and everything intact, in a cool, dry place.

We hope you enjoy this video about how to plant and grow cauliflower:

Source: LearnHowToGarden

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