- Germination Days: 14-21
- Planting Depth:1/4”
- Plant Spacing:24”
- Growth Habit:upright
- Soil Preference:Moist, enriched soil
- Temp Preference:Cooler
- Light Preference:Full Sun
- Days to Maturity:70 days
Cauliflowers were originated from Eastern Mediterranean around 16th century and later was imported into Italy, Germany and France.
Preparing Soil: Once seed stock has been selected, it is time to give soil the attention it is due. It should be loamy, drain well, and rich in organic matter. Soil enrichment can include organic additions such as cottonseed meal and composted manure.
Sowing: When soil is ready, it is time to sow seeds. Seeds can be started indoors or outdoors.
Sowing Indoors: About 4-6 weeks before last expected frost, fill starter pots with prepared soil and sow seeds at 1/4″ depth. Seedlings will be ready to transfer outdoors in about 6 weeks. Before transplanting, harden seedlings by slowly exposing them to outdoors conditions, increase outdoor exposure gradually over a one week period.
Sowing Outdoors: Spring crops should be sown before last frost. Fall crops should be sown in mid-summer. Till garden, remove competing weeds, and sow seeds an average of 8-10 seeds per 12″ at a 1/4″ depth along row lengths (10′ rows are optimal). As seedlings emerge, thin as necessary until spacing between strong, healthy plants is about 18-24″.
Spacing: As seedlings emerge in the garden, or are transplanted from starter pots, make sure soil meets the lowest set of leaves. Space seedlings about 18-24″, depending on particular variety’s expectations for crown size. Rows should be sufficiently spaced to create an easy walking path, about 30-36″. There should be plenty of room for a showy crown and its surrounding leaves.
Watering: Seeds will need to be watered after being sown. Water seeds daily to assure adequate moisture for germination. Cauliflower seedlings and mature plants will need constant water moisture, about 1.5 inches weekly if measured in rainfall.
Fertilizing / Side dressing: Compost tea is a great way to boost enrichment. As a gentler, organic method of fertilizing, it is a great way to start off new seedlings. Mid-season, give plants a boost with another round of compost dressing and water with compost tea.
Cultivation: Certain garden companion plants may compete for nutrition. Avoid planting cauliflower with potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes. Cauliflower will do better with garden companions like peas, beans, celery and oregano. To avoid an inundation of harvest-ready cauliflower, stagger starter plantings over a 2-3 week period. Introduce earthworms and other beneficial insects such as ladybugs.
Sunlight requirements: Cauliflower needs about 6 hours of sun daily. There are two different ways cauliflower manages catching some rays. A self-blanching variety, like Snowball, can handle direct sunlight quite well. Purple Sicily produces what is commonly called “curds”. This means the crown needs a bit of sun-block. Simply break off a few leaves at the base of the stem and fold them over the crown as some natural shade. This can also be done for protection for both varieties should an unexpected frost be in the forecast.
Harvesting: Most cauliflower varieties are ready to harvest in about 80-90 days. Snowball heads can reach a diameter of 6-8″ while Purple Sicily can produce enormous showy crowns weighing as much as 3 pounds. Harvesting crowns is simple. Cut at the base of the stem. Garden fresh cauliflower should be cleaned before culinary use, storing in the refrigerator or prepared for long-term storage in the freezer. When cooking Purple Sicily, don’t be surprised to see it transform into a bright green color!
Common Pests: Aphids, flea beetles, armyworms, slugs, cabbage webworms and loopers are pests that commonly plague cauliflower. Holes in leaves and plants that lack vigorous growth may indicate unwanted guests in the garden. Diatomaceous earth is a popular organic method of controlling these types of pests.
Common Diseases: Over-watering might lead to bacterial soft-rot, noted by darkened crowns and slimy liquid that exudes from lesions on its surface. Blackleg is a fungal disease that most commonly affects young seedlings. It can be recognized by darkened margins around leaves and dead patches developing on leaves. Black rot is a pathogen carried by insects. Dull yellowing of leaf margins will first appear then slowly spread to the midrib of the leaf, giving the leaf a scorched