How To Grow Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cool-season crop and a descendant of the common cabbage. It is more difficult to grow cauliflower than its relatives because it does not tolerate the heat or cold as well.

Growing cauliflower in the home garden requires consistently cool temperatures with temperatures in the 60s. Otherwise, it may prematurely “button”—form small, button-size heads—rather than forming a single, large, white head.

Given that cauliflower enjoys cool temperature, it’s a good autumn crop in many regions. Because of its temperature requirements, however, cauliflower is usually grown commercially and not the best crop for the beginner gardener.

Quick Facts

  • Watering: consistent soil moisture
  • Spacing: 18 inches apart
  • Hardiness: does not grow well in hot or in severe cold temperatures
  • pH: between 6.5 and 6.8
  • Feeding: Bi-Monthly nitrogen-rich amendments such as blood meal

Planting and Care

A cool season biennial which is grown as an annual. Cauliflower requires full sun and regular water. The soil should be rich in organic matter and nutrients. To prevent insect and disease problems, avoid planting in spots where other brassicas have been raised the previous three years (crop rotation needed).

Tip: Humus is the key ingredient to a great cauliflower harvest. Add ample amounts of compost or well-rotted animal manure to the soil prior to planting.

For spring crops, plant from nursery cell packs or start seeds indoors ten weeks before last frost. If planting transplants, use only seedlings with a tiny bud in the center. If a bud is not present, the plant will not form a head. If planting from seed, sow directly into loose, fast-draining soil in fall for winter harvest or early spring for a late spring harvest. Allow 18 to 24 inches between plants and 2 to 3 feet between rows.

As temperatures warm, mulch the planting site with compost, leaves or straw to cool the soil, conserve moisture and prevent weeds. Apply a liquid organic fertilizer at 1/2 strength every two weeks until harvest.

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