This is our first year growing cauliflower. We’ve grown broccoli, with success before, but never ventured to cauliflower until now. Thankfully it was a fairly easy crop to grow, and it didn’t give me any fits. However, as a newbie, we could have done some things differently.
How to Grow Cauliflower
Plant cauliflower seedlings in your garden 1-2 weeks before your last frost date. This gives ample time for it to reach maturity before the summer gets too hot. If you are starting from seed, start your seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your average last frost date.
Your soil should contain plenty of organic matter, such as compost or aged manure. Do not plant your cauliflower plants in an area in your garden that has grown another brassica family plant over the last 3 years. Brassica plants include broccoli, cabbage, turnips, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, among others. This will help stop any diseases that your plants may have carried in previous years.
Make sure you keep your cauliflower plants evenly moist, especially when they are small and forming their heads. As a good rule, each plant needs roughly 1 inch of water a week.
Once the heads reach about the size of an egg, pull the leaves up and around the cauliflower head and tie with twine to protect it from the heat. This process is called blanching. Some varieties are self blanching–so need to mess with those. We did not do this, and our cauliflower has spots from getting too hot. Make sure that you still keep eye on your plants, and remove any water that may get trapped inside the leaves. You don’t want your heads to rot!
Your cauliflower is ready to harvest when the heads are full, but before any of the curds begin to separate. A good rule of thumb is to check your plants daily after the heads reach about 4 inches around. Otherwise, you’ll end up with Medusa style cauliflower heads like we did! As a general rule, your heads are ready to harvest about a week after you’ve pulled up the leaves.
To harvest, cut the entire head off of the plant.
Before putting your cauliflower up for storage, soak in salt water for about 30 minutes. To do so, cut into florets, and combine 2Tbsp salt to every quart of warm water. Submerge your cauliflower florets and let sit. This will encourage any bugs that may be inside the heads to let go and it will help kill any surface contamination–if there is any.
Cauliflower with store in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. For longer term storage, you can freeze or can it.