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Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Cauliflower

A Guide to Gardening, Growing and Harvesting Edibles
  -- By Jenny Sigler, SparkPeople Contributor
A cool weather vegetable that produces tight, creamy white heads, cauliflower is actually part of the cabbage family. Cauliflower can be difficult to grow, but the best advice is to continually water and feed your plants, especially when they are young.

Hardiness Zones:
5-11 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
For a summer harvest, purchase starter plants from a nursery or home improvement store and plant them anytime after all danger of frost has passed. For a fall harvest, sow seeds directly into the garden in early spring.

Conditions:
Soil should be moisture retentive, prepared with a generous amount of compost and have a high pH level.

Space Needed:
Place the seedlings 2 feet apart in rows 2-3 feet wide. Each plant can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Maintenance:
Regular weeding and watering is essential. Mulching helps improve water retention. If you planted seeds directly into the soil, thinning will be necessary to help the strongest plants survive. When the cabbage head is about the size of an egg, begin the "blanching" process (if the variety you planted isn't cultivated to self-blanch). To blanch, loop heavy twine around the leaves, tying them together. The goal of blanching is to keep light and moisture from penetrating the leaves and to expose the head while allowing room for the plant to continue to grow and for air to circulate around it.

When to Harvest:
Harvest when the heads are tightly compacted and at a proper size for their variety. Cut off the head two inches down the stem.

Average Yield:
Each plant will yield 2 pounds of cauliflower.

Continuous Yield:
No

Life Cycle:
Annual

Difficulty Rating (1-5):
4