Cauliflower can be temperamental but the best way to grow cauliflower is to plant it in the spring or fall, when temperatures don’t get too hot. Here’s some great tips on ways to grow cauliflower:
Getting Started: Two Methods
1) Starting Seeds Indoors & Transplanting
Note: Transplants work best but can be direct seeded. (See below.)
- Fall planting (for a winter crop): Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks prior to your planned planting date. In areas where temperatures tend to stay above 32 degrees, a winter crop can be transplanted from September to February.
- Early spring planting (for a spring crop): For a spring crop, sow early or midseason varieties 4 to 6 weeks prior to plant date.
- Spring planting (for a fall crop): For fall crops, use midseason and storage varieties, starting seeds in May and planting in the garden in June to July.
- Cauliflower is a large plant, so place transplants 18 to 24 inches apart.
- Space rows three feet apart.
- Soil temperature for germination is important, with a consistent temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit with cooler soil around 60 degrees for the growth stage. Seedlings can be stressed during transplanting if they are more than five weeks old, so begin to harden them off over several days by subjecting them to outside conditions with protection from wind, increasing the time outside gradually.
2) Direct Seeding Outdoors
- Sow three or four cauliflower seeds one half-inch deep every 18 inches in row.
- Space rows two to three feet apart.
- Once the plants are established, thin them to one plant for every 18 inches of the row.
Consistent moisture will produce a solid head. Plants should receive an inch of water each week. Inconsistent moisture can stop the plant from not only not forming a head, also called a curd, but can completely halt growth of a developing head.
Well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6 to 7. The soil should be able to hold moisture and not dry rapidly. An addition of compost can add fertility and help maintain moisture.
Related: How To Check Your Soil pH
Cauliflower plants prefer full sun.
Aged compost should be added to the soil prior to planting. Side dress the plants by working more compost into the soil several inches away from the roots when plants are established. A good supply of nitrogen helps the plant form the best curd, making nitrogen-rich compost a good source for the nutrient.
Common Diseases & Pests
Black rot, cabbage worm, cabbage looper, flea beetles, and cabbage aphids.
Harvest the head when it reaches the desired size, usually after 50-60 days and most likely longer during the winter months as the growing time is slowed by shorter days (less light) and cooler temperatures. (See additional notes below.) Be sure to harvest before flower formation occurs. When the curds start to separate and loosen it is a sign that flower formation is about to begin.
Blanching is a method to protect the growing cauliflower head from sunshine to maintain its white color and its flavor, which can be altered with too much sun. Once the head has reached about baseball size, gather the outer leaves and tie them loosely over the head so it can grow unhindered.
Self-blanching varieties do not need to have their leaves tied, although tying will not harm them. Colored varieties of cauliflower, such as orange and purple but also Romanesco types, require direct sun to develop their colors and should not be tied for blanching. Cauliflower should be ready to harvest about two weeks after blanching.
Community Is Important!
Besides our guide, we would like to underscore the importance of community with gardening. Be sure to talk with local growers and have conversations about what to do and when.
You can always “wing it” and learn from your mistakes, but when we share and lear from each other may get better results faster!
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