Grow Robust Cauliflower At Home Organically with These 7 Tips
One of my family’s stable dinner dishes is roasted cauliflower. We cut a head of cauliflower in small pieces, lay the pieces on a baking dish, cover them with olive oil and salt, and bake or broil for 20 – 30 minutes. Out comes one of the most delicious meals. We devour the tasty vegetable like they were a bag of chips. Our children beg for more of this tasty white vegetable.
Roasting cauliflower is just one way we use this tasty vegetable. We have also made and loved cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower rice, and simply enjoy eating it plain. Our family loves cauliflower in every form.
Sadly, the plant is a picky. This makes it hard to grow in a home garden. The high maintenance of this plant intimates many home gardeners and prevents them from attempting to grow this delicious vegetable.
However, if you are up for a good challenge, this one is a great one to take on. It will be well worth the fresh, home grown earthy taste. With the right tools and knowledge, it is possible to watch cauliflower grow and thrive in your home garden.
7 Tips on How You Can Grow Cauliflower Organically
- Use Diligence
The first time I tried to grow cauliflower, I got a lot of green leaves and teeny tiny heads. While the broccoli I grew beside it thrived, I noticed that the cauliflower plant needed a more love, attention and care.
The problem of small heads is one that many home growers have faced. As a result, I learned that the main trick in growing this tricky plant is to use diligence. This picky vegetable needs the perfect temperature, a lot of sun, rich soil, and the right planting time. We break down each of these tips below.
- Watch the Temperature
Cauliflower plants love cool weather and they thrive in the fall and spring seasons. The vegetable is apart of the cole family or Brassica oleracea. This family of vegetables include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, collards, kale, and kohlabi. Like it’s cousins, the cauliflower prefers temperatures in the 60’s.
One problem that home growers have faced is the line between leaf and head growth. When a cauliflower plant experiences any type of stress they bolt, or lean toward premature heading. This causes the plant to create button-sized heads. Watching the temperature and providing protection from when the temperature gets either too cold and heat will keep your plant from bolting.
One trick for helping your new seedlings is to use a covering to help protect from cold. For example, homemade items such as a soda bottle or milk jug work great. Fabric row covers that can be bought at your local nursery or hardware store.
- Give Cauliflower a Lot of Sun
While Cauliflower plants needs cool temperatures, they also need a lot of sun. The vegetable plant needs at least six hours of full sun each day. The more sun the plant receives the better it will grow.
- Provide Rich Soil
In addition to being picky about temperature and sun, the cauliflower plant is particular about the type of soil the vegetable plant requires. Cauliflower plants are heavy feeders, therefore, the soil needs to be fertile, well-drained, moist with plenty of rich organic matter.
Also, it is important to check the pH levels of the soil. Testing the soil is easy. A kit can be bought online or at your local nursery. In addition, you can get a soil test through your regional Cooperative Extension office. The recommended pH level is between 6.5 and 6.8 for the best growth possible. The kit will indicate what extra nutrients you need to add to your soil. As a result, you need to fertilize your soil. Having a time-released vegetable food fertilizer is a great option. Mixing a 14-14-14 fertilizer before you plant your seedlings help to make a big difference.
- Careful Planting and Timing
When you plant your cauliflower seeds, you want to keep the temperature in mind. The goal is to have your plant mature in the cool weather. The plant will not thrive if they are exposed to frost or exposed to extreme heat. For the springtime, plan to plant your seedlings two to four weeks before the last frost.
For a fall crop, set out your seeds out about six to eight weeks before the first expected frost. If the temperature is still warm, be prepared to shade the growing sprouts from the heat. When the seeds are planted at the right time, you can expect to have robust cauliflower plants.
Look at the area you live in and decide when the best time to plant will be. Mother Nature News, provides a few states with planting dates:
- May 30 in Maine and Ontario
- June 15 in New York
- July 1 in Kentucky
- July 15 in Alabama
- October 15 in Arizona
- Provide Enough Space
Your cauliflower plant needs space to grow. Plant them eighteen inches apart and in rows with thirty inches between rows. This offers room to walk between your plant rows. The vegetable plant needs to have even moisture. Apply organic mulch around your cauliflower plant will help to keep the moisture spread out.
- Harvest at the Right Time
The best time to harvest your cauliflower plant is when you see the vegetable heads are compact, white and firm. You can expect that the heads of your plant will be about six to eight inches in diameter. Use a knife to cut the heads off the plant. You want to leave some of the leaves around the head to protect the vegetable.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, you want to harvest a cauliflower head if the head has started to open up. They suggest that the plant will not improve and, therefore, needs to be harvested.
In conclusion, growing your own home grown cauliflower takes more diligence, patience, and attention, but it is worth the effort. Many home gardeners are intimidated by growing this vegetable in their home garden, however, following these tips will help to make sure that you grow a robust organic cauliflower that tastes amazing. Trying something new is always a great experience.
If you are going cauliflower for the first time, we want to hear your story. Share your experience with us in the comments below.