Cauliflower is primarily a cold weather crop and can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. Otherwise, it is a relatively easy vegetable to include in a home garden. Here are a few simple instructions on how to grow cauliflower at home.
Different varieties of cauliflower can be grown year round, depending on the local climate. It is extremely important with cauliflower to choose a cultivar that will thrive in your area. If temperatures are too warm, they will not produce heads. Check with local growers to see which variety of cauliflower does best in your area.
WHEN TO PLANT
Cauliflower needs about two months of cool temperatures to produce heads. However, only mature cauliflower grown in the fall can survive frost. For best results, sow cauliflower seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost of the winter or 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost in the fall.
WHERE TO PLANT
Sow cauliflower seeds indoors. Transfer cauliflower seedlings to a well-tilled, richly fertilized spot in your garden that gest good sun exposure.
Cauliflower needs a rich, well-tilled soil in order to thrive. Use a mature compost or organic fertilizer rich with nitrogen and potassium to fortify your garden before planting. Work the soil thoroughly weeks, if not months, prior to planting.
SOWING CAULIFLOWER SEEDS
Cauliflower seeds are best sown indoors and then transferred outside. Follow instructions on your seed packet, but you usually want to sow them ¼ to ½ inch deep. Keep the soil moist but don’t let it get soggy. Keep the soil temperature at about 70°F.
Transplant your seedlings outdoors when they’re about 6 weeks old and once the danger of frost has passed. Assimilate them gradually to the outdoors by placing them outside for just a few hours per day, increasing the time each day for about a week. Once hardened, carefully transplant them to your garden. Space them 15 to 24 inches apart.
Cauliflower needs a regular supply of water. Don’t let the soil dry out or you’ll get “ricey” heads. 1 inch of water per week is usually sufficient, but keep an eye on them, particularly during hot, dry spells. Water the soil at the base of the plant. Avoid overhead watering, which can foster disease.
A monthly regiment of fish emulsion or compost tea can benefit young cauliflower plants. Feed them every two weeks and they’ll grow even faster.
Blanching is the process of shading the flower heads of the cauliflower plant to prevent yellow and brown color distortion. Most varieties are supposed to self-blanch, however some may need help. Once the heads are the size of an egg, bend the leaves of each plant over the face of the head and tuck them in on the other side. Try to block out any light, but allow space for aeration. Use soft twine or rubber bands if needed. Be sure to blanch when the plants are completely dry to avoid rot. Unwrap the cauliflower heads after rain to allow the heads to dry out and check for pests.
Harvest when the buds of the head are still tight. Mature heads are usually 6 to 12 inches across. Cut them off just below the head. Cauliflower should be eaten or preserved immediately.
TIPS & ADVICE
Weed carefully. Do not disturb the roots of the cauliflower.
Have your own tips on how to grow cauliflower? Let us know in the comments section below!