How to Grow Cauliflower
We have all heard if you can grow Cauliflower you can grow anything. Well in a sense that is true. Cauliflower is in the cabbage family and are a little finicky but, by understanding their needs you can successfully produce a great crop. Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C as well as know to help fight off cancer. So with that said, It should be in every garden!
Here are a few things you need to know before you plant in the Pacific Northwest climate. This vegetable is very sensitive to temperature changes whether it be too hot or cold. Cauliflower is known as a cool weather crop and will not produce heads if the temperature is too hot. The ideal time to plant is in the spring when the temperature has maintained a steady 60 degrees. This is a great indication that frost will not creep in a stunt your Cauliflower.
Cauliflower can be grown from seed as well as from starts. The main difference between the two is your timing. If you want an early harvest sow seeds in a greenhouse in early spring and transplant outdoors once they are 2 inches tall. Do not wait any longer or they will become root bound. Once a cauliflower roots become confined it triggers the plant to stop growing to it’s potential. Or in mid-spring you can get starts from your local nursery or organic farm.. Space is key in producing a fabulous head.
To get your beds ready you need to add a lot of organic matter and at least two inches of compost. Cauliflower is a heavy feeder so add fertilizer to the soil and repeat after two weeks. After all there is nothing worse then realizing your Cauliflower is starving and hasn’t grown an inch. This has plagued many green thumbs myself included. Don’t be a statistic.
Growing Cauliflower From Seed
Now its time to plant from seed. I stagger my Cauliflower instead of planting them in rows. This gives your vegetables more space as well as getting more plants in a smaller area. Sow your seeds directly into the garden at a depth of 1/4-1/2 inches and 10’” apart cover with soil and water. It is that easy. Make sure you keep your seeds from drying out or they won’t germinate. (sprout). Once you see the seedlings begin getting their true leaves you can start thinning if need be. I always have a hard time with yanking them out but, trust me you would be doing them a disservice by letting the seedlings fight for space. Ultimately you’re the one who looses.
Growing Cauliflower From Starts
I think this is the easiest way to grow Cauliflower because it takes all the guess work out of the equation. Dig holes in the garden the depth of your seedling and make sure they are 15’” apart. Then add a handful of compost and fertilizer to each hole and mix well. Place each Cauliflower start in carefully so you don’t disturb the roots. Cover them will soil and pat gently. Remember theses are babies you don’t want to be rough and compact the soil or water and oxygen can not get in. Next water them thoroughly, and sit back and wait for them to grow.
Caring For Your Cauliflower
Cauliflower needs a bit of extra attention just like his buddy Broccoli. Water is Cauliflowers best friend. You should make sure every week you are drenching your Cauliflower. I recommend soaking the soil 6 inches down. This is important for the heads to produce and also keeps them from separating and getting “ricey”. Cauliflower is also a heavy feeder so don’t be afraid to add fertilizer every two weeks. If you add a layer of straw it will help keep the moisture in and the weeds from competing and stealing the nutrients.
Harvesting Your Cauliflower
So If it’s time to harvest your Cauliflower that means you actually were successful and are a “Garden God”. To tell if it is time to harvest your Cauliflower heads will be tight and fairly regular in side and proportion. The curds (head) will not have started separating. If separation has begun grab a knife and start harvesting immediately. Cauliflower can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. I recommend you eat it immediately because it is so delicious fresh.
If you want your Cauliflower to maintain a beautiful white head you can tie up the large leaves to create a shade. Just be careful to watch for rot.
Root Maggot, Aphids, Flea Beetle, Cabbage Worm
Black Rot, Club Root, Black Leg
Spinach, Onions, Peas, Lettuce, Dill, Mint, Rosemary, Carrots, Potatoes
Early Dawn, Andes, Fremont