Growing your own cauliflower needs a little bit of science and a little bit of luck. This is because these mild, meaty, and nutty vegetable can only grow and flourish in cold weather. An early summer heatwave can cause even the most carefully tendered spring cauliflower crop to thwart. Similar things can happen during the fall. That’s why in this article, we are going to teach you a thing or two when it comes to growing your own cauliflower. So you could enjoy its complex flavor and its delightfully tender texture anytime you want.
Cauliflowers grow best if they are planted in fertile, moist, well-drained soil and when they receive full sun for at least eight hours a day. Consistent moisture, along with nutrient-rich soil, is the key ingredient to good cauliflower growth. This is why you should enrich the ground before you plant the cauliflower by putting a three-inch layer of well-decomposed compost. Also, make plans to irrigate the plants by using a drip hose or overhead watering like a watering can before you plant your cauliflower.
Cauliflower is related to broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and turnip. However, cauliflowers are pickier when it comes to their growing conditions. They have less cold tolerance compared to broccoli and cabbage, plus they tend to bolt when temperatures get high. Cauliflowers need a long and cool growing season rather than periods of cold and hot weather. In several areas in the United States, the best time to grow cauliflower is mid to late summer because the crop tends to mature in cold fall temperatures. We suggest that you should start seeds indoors or sow them directly in your garden. When they are outdoors, you should plant them into groups of two to three seeds and keep them 12 to 18 inches apart and ¼ inches deep.
Water your cauliflower regularly and provide them one inch of water every week through irrigation if it doesn’t rain. Some types of cauliflower have outer leaves that are wrapped around their developing head, which prevents the light from entering, and this what they call self-blanching. Other variety of cauliflower doesn’t have this outer leaves so you should watch for their heads to begin forming. Once their heads are visible, you should gather their outer leaves and tie them together over its head using rubber bands or strings. This procedure will keep the head shaded, and their curds will stay white. Remember not to tie the leaves of colored cauliflower varieties because they are the ones who need sunlight to have their hues.
Since every cauliflower plant can only be harvested once, we suggest that you should extend your harvest by planting several types of them that mature at different times. Remember that you should only harvest cauliflowers when their head reaches a useable size and before their flower buds open. Cut their heads above ground level and remove their leaves. You can store your harvested cauliflower in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Varieties of Cauliflower
- Snow Crown Hybrid – This is the most common cauliflower, which has a white color. They mature fast when they are widely adopted, and it only takes 55 days for them to grow.
- Graffiti Hybrid – This cauliflower variety has bright purple heads, and they can hold their color well even when they are cooked. It takes about 85 days for them to develop and fully mature.
Veronica Hybrid – This type of cauliflower is the Romanesco type. It has a unique spiky head with lime green color along with a mild and nutty flavor. It takes about 85 days for them to develop and fully mature.