Cauliflower is an easy plant to start and grow. Where home gardeners get into problems is with obtaining white heads (or at least white like the ones you see in stores.) See below for secrets.
When to Plant
Sow seed the beginning of March for a May transplanting to the outdoors (8 weeks before you want to put it into the garden)
Plant seeds .6 cm deep and germinate at 21C. It should only take 5 – 7 days germination. Once the seeds have germinated, grow them cooler at 15-16C but no colder because if the seedlings get too cold (10C( they’ll wind up bolting (going to flower) in the field instead of setting a head.
Where to Plant
LIke all the cole crops (broccoli, cabbage) this plant loves the full sun in a good soil that is high in organic matter.
How to Plant
- Transplants should be put 45 cm apart in the row and rows should be 75 inches apart.
- You can direct sow the seed outside after the middle of May right up to the middle of June and still get a good fall crop. The seeds go down .6 cm deep and about 10 cm apart.
When it comes to thinning in about five weeks, choose the thinnest and straightest plants. Throw away any seedling that looks like it is swelling (and trying to set a head already). Transplant the extra to other parts of the garden. Thin to one plant every 45 cm.
Care & Maintenance
Harden off the transplants and set outside after danger of frost has passed. While the plants themselves can take frost, the cool nights will cause them to bolt later on (see above).
How To Keep Them White
Here’s the part that folks don’t seem to get right.
When the developing head (called a curd) is about the size of a coffee cup, take the big outer leaves and tie them up over top of the curd. Use rubber bands to keep the leaves firmly over the curd so that no light can get into the middle of the plant.
This is why by the way that you need to control cabbage worms as they eat holes in the darned leaves that let light through. If the leaves are too small or too holey – you can use a paper bag over the curd (not our first choice but it works.)
If you let the curd get too big, it simply won’t turn back to clear white (more like ugly cream) or stay yellow. It is still edible just ugly.
Blanching will only take a few days – ten at most and the head can be harvested.
The warmer the weather, the quicker the curd will turn white (3 to 4 days if it is really hot).
The head continues to grow while it is being blanched and you end up with a decent sized head that is a nice white colour.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm