Cauliflower belongs to the Cole, or cabbage, family but isn’t as easy to grow as cabbage. The delicious taste and flexibility it provides in your diet is well well worth the extra effort; some people even consider cauliflower a delicacy! Cauliflower may be a cool-season vegetable that will be planted every week or two before the last frost in early spring. you’ll also plant in summer for an early fall crop. Taking the time and energy to know the climate and soil conditions cauliflower does best in– before you plant– will go an extended way toward ensuring success in growing this vegetable.
Cauliflower grows best in fertile, well-drained, consistently moist soil. It must be planted fully sun (at least 6 hours each day. The optimal pH level for cauliflower is between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil should be high in both organic matter and nitrogen. Cauliflower is finicky about the climate it grows in. Either an excessive amount of cold or an excessive amount of heat can affect the standard and quantity of the heads. Because the weather is so difficult to predict, this balancing act is often hard to manage. There could also be seasons when your cauliflower produces better than others just because of the climate.
Good soil preparation is vital when planting cauliflower. the simplest thanks to determining your soil conditions are to possess a soil test performed. Your local extension office can perform a soil test. To locate your nearest extension office, attend http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/.
If your soil is lacking in organic matter and/or nitrogen you’ll add manure or compost to the soil alongside a nitrogen fertilizer during planting. Fertilizer is often applied two more times during the season at two-week intervals. confirm the soil is well cultivated to a depth of a minimum of 8-10 inches before planting.
Cauliflower is typically transplanted from seedlings to the garden. The plants are often purchased from a nursery or garden center. you’ll also sow the seeds directly into the garden (after the last frost date) or start the seeds indoors about six weeks before transplantation.
Transplant the seedlings 18 inches apart in rows that are 30 inches apart. Water the seedlings immediately after transplanting; any wilting could permanently damage the plant. differently to make sure an honest crop is to settle on active, healthy plants that have had continuous, steady growth. Buying plants that are stunted or in flats for too long are susceptible to producing poor, or no, curds. After planting, apply a top mulch to preserve moisture and stop the soil from drying out and cracking.
CARE FOR CAULIFLOWER
Cauliflower plants must have consistent moisture; confirm they receive a minimum of an in. of water per week and don’t let the soil completely dry out. Healthy curd development results from continuous and vigorous growth. Anything that halts or slows the plant growth will potentially cause little or no head development. Common interruptions can include insufficient moisture (drought), plant damage, or extremes in weather.
Weed your cauliflower plants only necessary and cultivate lightly so as to not damage the plant or roots.
HOW TO BLANCH CAULIFLOWER
Cauliflower heads (or curds) got to be blanched. This process involves tying the outer leaves together to hide the curd when the heads have about 2-3 inches of growth. Blanching prevents the heads from damage from the sun, turning green and obtaining an “off” taste. There are varieties that “self-blanch” and naturally curl their leaves to hide and protect the developing head.
Depending on the variability planted, cauliflower takes between 50 and 70 days to mature.
Once the leaves are blanched, and if growing conditions are good, the curds develop and mature within 7-10 days. Search for full, compact, firm, whiteheads. to reap the heads, simply cut the plant at the most stem (leave a couple of outer leaves for protection) before the heads begin to possess a “ricey” appearance; by then they’re overly mature and can not taste good. Another sign that your cauliflower is past its prime and can begin to quickly deteriorate is that the formation of single florets. After harvesting your crop, you’ll eliminate the plants in your compost heap, as cauliflower doesn’t usually produce side shoots or a second crop. Cauliflower, like most garden vegetables, is often frozen for later consumption. confirm to blanch them first then place within the freezer immediately after draining and drying.
CAULIFLOWER DISEASES AND PESTS
Some problems you’ll encounter when growing cauliflower include:
Imported Cabbage Worm: These are white or yellow “butterflies” that have black spots, and attack cauliflower curds. These pests begin causing trouble in April and continue until September. The butterflies lay eggs on the cauliflower which later hatch into worms that prey on the heads. Covers are often wont to prevent this, or insecticides if needed.
Cabbage Looper: are gray-brown moths with silver markings on its’ wings. They lay eggs on the leaves of the cabbage and prey on the leaves and still the heads.
Diamondback moths: These moths lay eggs on the underside of the leaves on the brink of the veins. The larvae are green and prey on the leaves from the within out. These moths are grayish-brown and have three diamond shapes on their body, that they’re named after. They originate within the south and migrate to northern states later within the season. Treatment of the Cabbage Looper and DiamondBack moths are similar. you’ll cover the crop or use an insecticide if necessary. Cleaning up all debris at the top of the season, after harvest and when leaves drop is additionally important.
Brown heads: are often caused by false mildew, or direct sun when water is on the head/curd.
VARIETIES OF CAULIFLOWER
Some recommended varieties to undertake are: