Most of the people are really not sure about growing cauliflower in their garden. Some might think it is too difficult for a beginner to try their hands on cauliflower and only an experienced gardener can come up with great results. Though I agree that it is not as easy as some of the other vegetables, which I have discussed earlier, it is also not a very hard nut to crack. Follow the points discussed in this article and I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Though primarily it is a cool weather crop, they are very sensitive to extreme temperature so it is sensible to start with a transplant. In case you want to start with seed plant them indoors in coconut coir or other media and make the seedling and then transplant in the garden. Using paper pot also helps to prevent root disturbance while transplanting.
A pH of 6.5 to 7 is best for cauliflower. Just like Cabbage, Cauliflower also flourishes in nitrogen and potassium rich soil. A little bit of organic matter from time to time will definitely help the plant. Make the soil loose up to a depth of 15 inches by using a tiller and mix 2.5-inch layer of compost with it. Plant the seedlings 20 inches apart. Like most of the vegetables, it also requires minimum 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.
Make sure your soil has enough moisture. Don’t wait for the soil to dry out before giving water (want to perfect your watering techniques? Check out this article). This will cause the head to open up and become unpalatable. Whereas constant moisture would make a large, but tender head. A thick layer of mulch will also help to keep the moisture intact for a longer period of time.
Once the head (also called “curd”) become the size of an egg, it is important to cover it (also called blanching) and protect it from the direct sunlight. This is important because it will make your cauliflower milky white in appearance. Missing this step can cause brown or yellow head, which may not taste so bad, but definitely less aesthetic visually (don’t cover the heads in case you are using colorful varieties of cauliflower or it is of the self-blanching type). While covering use plant’s own leaves, and tie them up using a rubber band or plastic tape. While covering the head don’t forget to leave some space for air circulation and future growth. Make sure the leaves, you are using for covering the head is not wet. Otherwise, it can cause rotting. So it is better to cover the head in the afternoon when the plants are usually dry. From time to time, unwrap the covering to check on the growth of the head and any possible pest attack.
Cauliflower matures within 50 to 60 days. Though it depends on the variety of the plant, generally a mature head ranges from 6 to 10 inches in diameter. Once you find your desired size cut them with a sharp knife below the head with some leaves to protect the head. Though it is best to eat right after the harvest, you can also store them well. Cover it with perforated plastic bags and put it in the refrigerator. For more on storing vegetables check out our earlier blog.