How to Grow Cauliflower
*The edible part of this plant is actually a cluster of flower buds.
*Cauliflower does not tolerate either very hot or very cold weather, so there is only a short season before and after the summer heat in which you can grow it. In addition, in order to keep the cauliflower white and thus tasty, you need to keep their heads covered with leaves while it is maturing.
*This plant is an excellent source of calcium and other vitamins and freezes well.
**Plant cauliflower in a sunny, well-drained spot where other cabbage-family vegetables have not grown recently. Check out my Crop Rotation Guide for suggestions and further reading.
**Have a soil that is fairly rich, especially in nitrogen and potassium and a pH level around 6.5-7.0. Here is a great idea for a soil testing kit.
**Add plenty of organic matter into the soil to help it retain its’ moisture. It is best to add compost of well-rotted manure into the soil the fall season before planting.
**For spring crops, start the seeds indoors, 4-6 weeks before setting the plants out. Keep the seedlings at about 70 degrees and keep them moist. The roots do not like to be disturbed so use the type of containers that can be planted directly into the soil (peat pots, soil blocks, etc.). When they are about 6 inches tall, they can be planted outside as long as it is no earlier than 3-4 weeks before the last expected frost date. You can set the plants outside in a protected spot to harden off a week or two earlier than that. Plant them 18-24 inches apart. Here are some more crops to plant in the spring.
**For fall crops, you can sow the seeds directly in the garden, but you can also start them indoors and transplant them if you need the garden space. Here are some more ideas for fall crops.
**The most important thing about raising cauliflower is to keep the growth going. If the weather is dry, give the soil a good soaking. Mulch will help keep the water from evaporating. If the heads are still not growing bigger, give the plants a liquid organic fertilizer (like this one).
**When the flower/edible white part is egg-size, blanch it by bending over the big leaves that surround it so that the leaves cover the white part. Tuck the leaves in on the opposite side and break the ribs of the leaves to keep them from springing back. If the head does not stay covered, tie some leaves together at the top with a string or rubber band. Do not cover the heads when they are wet or they may rot. The idea is to keep light and moisture out while letting in air and giving it some space in which to grow.
**Water the ground around the plant (try to avoid watering the actual plant to prevent rot possibilities) and keep the soil constantly moist.
**The heads are ready to harvest when they are about 6 inches across but still tight, with the buds unopened (some varieties have larger heads, so check the package for more specific information on your plant).
**When they are ready, cut them right away at the base and either use them or freeze them. You can also pull up the whole plant (including the roots) and store it in a cool cellar where it will keep for at least a month.
Have you ever grown Cauliflower?