There is nothing tastier than homegrown veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and cauliflower. The first time we attempted to grow cauliflower in the vegetable garden, we were a little intimidated, but it was actually easier to grow than we thought. Learn how to grow cauliflower, the different types and the conditions they require to thrive and tips for storing and cooking them at the end of the season.
You may not know it, but a cauliflower head is a curd, the flowering stalk of the plant. This dense, mounded head is the edible stage of the plant before the flowers open.
The florets are delicious raw and cooked, and there are many ways to prepare them, including steamed, roasted, pickled, and grilled. They are also an excellent substitute for rice and potatoes.
Cauliflower is low in calories and high in nutrients, so there’s no reason not to include this veggie in your diet or garden.
It’s one of several vegetables in the Brassicaceae or mustard family, like collards, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi, and a cool-season biennial plant grown as an annual. They are relatively easy to grow, whether you want a summer or fall harvest.
- Growing and Caring for Different Cauliflower Types
Growing and Caring for Different Cauliflower Types
Growing cauliflower in the veggie garden is just as simple as any other vegetable, as long as you understand what cauliflower plants want for healthy growth. You can even plant the leftover stem in water just like you regrow cabbage and lettuce.
They enjoy cool weather and moist soil but suffer from drought stress and high temperatures, so it’s essential to provide them with the right growing conditions.
How long does it take for cauliflower to grow? Learn the growth rate of this veggie, the different types, and ways to grow and care for cauliflower plants in the garden. Find out how to make homemade cauliflower rice as a healthy substitute for your favorite recipes.
What is Cauliflower, and are There Different Types?
Cauliflower is an odd-looking vegetable with its tightly bundled head of florets. And, while we think of this veggie as being white, there are yellow-green and bright purple varieties, too. Discover what cauliflower is and some of the best types for growing in a home garden.
Cauliflower plants are cole crops from the Brassica family, and, like the cabbage family, cauliflower is a cool-season vegetable. It is high in B vitamins and fiber and has phytonutrients and antioxidants that protect against disease.
The head of the plant consists of tightly packed flower buds or curds, and the head, leaves, and stem are all edible. There are hundreds of varieties of cauliflower, and they range from white and green to orange, purple, brown, and yellow.
White cauliflower is the one you commonly see at the grocery store, and there are many types, including Snowball, White Cloud, and Snow Crown. The longer this type grows, the larger it gets.
Green cauliflower is sometimes called broccoflower, and there are several varieties. The Romanesco type has a mild nutty flavor and is very similar to broccoli.
Orange cauliflower, or cheddar cauliflower, is a hybridized variety that develops bright orange curds due to the levels of beta carotene, and cooking it deepens the color.
Purple cauliflower has striking purple curds that are tender and mild. Some purple types retain their color after cooking, while others turn green.
How Long Does it Take for Cauliflower to Grow?
How long does it take for cauliflower to grow, and when is the best time to plant it? A cauliflower’s growth rate depends on the type, and there are two different times during the growing season to plant cauliflower.
Learn about the different growing stages of cauliflower and the ideal time to plant them for your area. Starting cauliflower from seed is the easiest and most inexpensive way to produce food, and it takes eight to ten days for the seed to germinate.
It then goes through the seedling stage, vegetative stage, and flowering stage. After transplanting the seedling in the garden, it takes roughly three to five months before the plant is ready to pick, depending on the type and conditions.
Start your cauliflower plants in early to mid-April for spring planting and early to late July for a fall crop.
What You Need for Growing Cauliflower
Cauliflower plants have finicky needs, and it’s vital to understand what they like and don’t like before growing cauliflower in your vegetable garden. Explore their soil, sun, water, and fertilizer needs to ensure that your plants produce the healthiest veggies.
Cauliflower plants require fertile soil that is well-draining yet moisture retentive with a pH of 6 to 7. Cauliflower is a heavy feeder, but overfeeding these plants causes them to have hollow stems.
Prepare to feed your plants at the time of planting and once more as they develop. A fertile garden retains moisture and prevents the heads from buttoning.
Cauliflower loves growing in full sun and wants at least six hours of sunshine daily to thrive and consistent watering during germination and growth.
How to Grow Cauliflower
The first steps to planting cauliflower are to pick the perfect place in your yard for growing them and choose which type you want to grow.
Once these issues are figured out, it’s time to grow cauliflower by sowing the seeds indoors or directly in the garden and preparing the bed for planting. You can take care of planting broccoli seeds indoors or outside at the same time.
Sow the cauliflower seeds four to five weeks before the last frost in early spring. Fill seed starting pots or trays with potting soil and plant the seeds a half-inch deep and three to six inches apart.
Spray them with water to moisten the soil, set them in a warm, sunny window, and do not let the dirt dry out during germination.
Two to four weeks before the last frost, transplant the seedlings into the garden. If you prefer a fall crop, plant them six to eight weeks before the first frost date when the daytime temperatures are below 75°F.
Prepare the garden bed by tilling the top 12 inches of soil and adding organic matter or compost. Plant them 18 to 24 inches apart while spacing rows 30 inches apart. Water them right after planting and feed them a 5-10-10 fertilizer.
Spread mulch over the bed to halt weeds, keep the soil moist, and install row covers to protect the plants from frost and insects.
Caring for Cauliflower in the Vegetable Garden
Your cauliflower seedlings need regular attention to thrive after transplanting them in the garden. Discover your plants’ watering and fertilizing needs to help them grow healthy and common problems that may occur during the growing process.
When growing cauliflower, the first thing to remember is that these veggies hate being interrupted by anything during their growing process.
Dramatic changes to the temperature, watering routine, and soil nutrition cause the cabbage heads to develop prematurely or fail to grow correctly.
Water your plants regularly so that they receive two inches of water each week, and side-dress them with a high nitrogen fertilizer three to four weeks after planting.
Keep an eye out for the cabbage looper, aphids, cabbage worms, flea beetles, and other garden pests as they grow. Remove them by hand immediately and use insecticidal soap to stop an infestation.
Diseases are another issue to watch for. Black rot, clubroot, powdery mildew, and white rust are common problems with cauliflower, and routine crop rotation is a great way to prevent many garden diseases.
Always water your plants at ground level to avoid splashing dirt onto the leaves and remove infected plant material from the garden to stop disease from spreading to other veggies.
Cauliflower starts as a loose head, and it usually takes about 75 to 85 days for the head to fully form, depending on the variety.
Once the head is two to three inches in diameter, blanch it by tying the outer leaves together over the head and securing them with rubber bands or twine.
However, this step isn’t necessary if you have a colored or self-blanching variety. The cauliflower is ready to harvest seven to 12 days after blanching.
For white cauliflower heads, a brown head is an indication that the soil has a boron deficiency, and a pink head means the plants are receiving too much sun or fluctuating temperatures.
How to Harvest and Store Garden Cauliflower
Your cauliflower plants are mature, and it’s finally time to pick fresh veggies from the garden. Here is how to harvest cauliflower at the end of the growing season and ways to store it to prevent it from browning, short and long term.
You know it’s time to harvest cauliflower when the head is full, compact, and the desired color.
To pick the cauliflower, use a sharp knife to cut the head from the stem, leaving some of the outer leaves intact to protect it during storage. Cauliflower bruises easily, so handle it carefully during the harvest.
Before storing cauliflower, soak it in a salt bath to kill cabbage worms hiding inside the vegetable. Fill a bowl or container with a gallon of water and two tablespoons of salt and soak the cabbage for half an hour. Rinse it under cool water and dry it with a paper towel.
To store your cauliflower short-term and keep cauliflower fresh, place it in a perforated bag or open plastic bag. How long does cauliflower last in fridge? Keep it in the crisper of the fridge for up to one week. Make sure the head is stem-side up to stop it from collecting moisture.
If you cannot eat the veggie within a week, consider freezing it. While blanching cauliflower to preserve it is a good idea, it is not required. Break the head up into florets and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Keep them in the freezer for a couple of hours to flash freeze and then transfer the frozen cauliflower into freezer bags. Press out the excess air before sealing them shut and store them in the freezer for up to a year.
You can also learn the best way to can cauliflower for almost indefinite storage.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower is the perfect rice substitute. It is nutritious, low in carbs and calories, and delicious. This basic recipe serves four to six and is easy to spice up by adding your favorite seasonings.
Use a knife to cut the cauliflower head into chunks and remove and discard the core. Add the pieces to a food processor with the S-blade and pulse them in batches until they are just bigger than couscous.
Wrap the rice in a tea towel or paper towel and wring out as much of the moisture as possible. Set a skillet on medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic, and cook for half a minute.
Add the cauliflower rice and salt and saute for six to ten minutes while stirring. Remove it from the heat and add seasonings or herbs to taste and serve warm. Keep leftover rice in a storage container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Cauliflower is healthy and delicious, whether you enjoy dipping raw florets in veggie dip, steaming them for a healthy side dish, or baking them in a casserole.
They are also reasonably simple to grow at home in the early spring and late summer when the temperatures are cool.
We hope that learning how to grow cauliflower and care for your plants as they grow keeps your fridge fully stocked with fresh veggies, and we’d love it if you’d share our cauliflower growing guide and plant care tips with your friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest.