How To Grow Cauliflower
Cauliflower is a vegetable from the Brassica oleracea family. This family includes all plants of similar shape and size including common vegetables like kohlrabi, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. However, cauliflower is more temperamental than its relatives. The secret to growing cauliflower is to maintain consistent cool temperatures. The coastal valleys of California are home to about three-fourths of commercial cauliflower. You can still try to grow it at home no matter where you live, but time is crucial to maintaining the perfect temperature. Additionally, it needs rich soil and a constant supply of water and nutrients.
Cauliflower grows well in temperatures in the 60s. With young cauliflower plants, there’s an great balance between head and leaf growth. Any anxiety tips the balance toward early heading, or “buttoning,” once the plant makes little button-sized heads. This could happen when the temperature is too warm or too cool. This occurs if transplants sit in packs long periods of time or if plants are affected by drought or poor soil.
Like the most vegetables, cauliflower needs a minimum amount of full sunlight each day. The more sun the better, but at least six hours is necessary for cauliflower. In order to grow, cauliflower needs fertile soil that is kept consistently damp with good drainage. Adequate organic material is also necessary for the best plant growth. The pH of the cauliflower soil must be kept in the tight range of 6.5 to 6.8 for the best development and to keep away clubroot disease.
Analyze the soil to have a clear indication of the pH levels. You can do this test by purchasing a special soil testing kit or by paying for a professional soil test conducted by your regional cooperative extension office. You can decide what lime and fertilized to use based on the outcome of the test. Before you begin to plant, use a timed-release vegetable food, or nitrogen-rich changes. Some common organic fertilizer includes composted manure, cottonseed meal, or blood meal mixed with compost. Use high quality plan nutrients during planting, after plants begin to grow new leaves, and once they begin forming heads.
Plant autumn crops about 6 to 8 weeks before the very first freeze. Be prepared to shade them if you would like to protect them from heat. Space cauliflower transplants as the label suggests. Typically, it is between 18 inches to two feet apart in each row with 30 inches between rows. Remember, plants need an even-moisture supply to prevent anxiety. Organic mulch may help to maintain damp and cool soil, and can also aid in weed suppression. If rain fall is short, make sure to add approximately one to two inches of water each week.
As soon as the cauliflower heads are around 2 inches wide, you may need to pull the leaves up through the small head and fasten them together with a clothespin or twine, a technique called “blanching.” This technique helps to shade the tops in order to make sure they will be white and soft at harvest. Crops should “self-blanch,” meaning the leaves should naturally curl on the head, but watch them because they often need assistance from a clothespin.
Plant spring transplants early enough so that they develop before the heat of summer, but make sure to not plant them too early so that they freeze. Planting them about 2 to 4 weeks before the last freeze should be just right. Be prepared to protect them from winter using a cover. You can use cloth row covers or homemade cover using household items like old milk jugs.
Besides averting pressures, keep an eye open for imported cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, cabbage root maggots, aphids, and flea beetles. Potential disease pests include black rot, black leg, clubroot, and yellows. Communicate with the regional cooperative extension office to learn more on current management recommendations and identification. The easiest way to minimize possible issues is to keep your plant’s in good health and keep your garden clear.
The head is usually ready about a week after you tie up the leaves. Leave the top to continue growing for as long as it remains compact. Ideally, it’ll grow to be about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. If you wish, you can untie the leaves to take a look and then tie them back together. Cut it off from the plant at the foundation of the neck because it will begin to deteriorate however little it is when the head starts to grow. The head ought to keep within the fridge for at least 2 months.