Cauliflower is part of the cabbage family along with broccoli, turnips, and brussels sprouts. It is important that cauliflower be planted early. It should be planted about three to four weeks before the last spring frost. If cauliflower is left to mature in the heat, it can acquire a very bitter taste.
- Cauliflower seeds should be started indoors about eight weeks before the last expected frost of spring.
- Since cauliflower is part of the cabbage family and it cannot tolerate heat, the seedlings need to be transplanted into the garden about three weeks before the last expected frost. Seedlings should be about six inches tall at this time.
- Pinch off the lowest leaves and plant your cauliflower plants about eighteen inches apart in prepared garden soil. Cover the roots with dirt until you are just shy of touching the bottom leaves. Next, build out a little ring of soil around each plant. This will help your cauliflower hold moisture.
- When the heads are between three to five inches across, you should prepare to blanch them. Blanching blocks the cauliflower heads from receiving direct sunlight. This keeps them sweet tasting and creamy white. Blanching also protects the heads from rain -- which means they will be less susceptible to rot.
- To blanch, you should tie the leaves up around the cauliflower head.
Another method is to take an outside leaf from the cauliflower, lay it over the top and tuck it completely around the head.
Both methods will allow air to circulate around the head. Just be certain that you do not tie the leaves too tight around the cauliflower heads. You want to allow the heads adequate room so they can continue growing.
Blanching takes between five and eight days.
- Depending upon the variety of cauliflower you have, you will harvest when the heads are between six and twelve inches across. You should harvest your cauliflower before the tight flower buds open. If you wait until the flower buds open and the flowers becomes loose, your cauliflower will start to loose its sweet taste. To harvest, cut the cauliflower just below the head.
- Cauliflower can also be planted as a fall crop. You do not have to start the seeds indoors. The seeds should be sown directly into the ground. You should place the seeds in clusters of three or four. Each cluster should be about two feet apart. It is important to note that blanching may require a few extra days in fall crops.