By Kathee Mierzejewski
If you’ve been wondering how to plant cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis), you’ll find that it is not difficult. Growing cauliflower can be done right along with other closely related plants like broccoli, kale and turnips.
Best Time to Plant Cauliflower
Growing cauliflower is best done in cool temperatures with moist atmospheres. You can grow cauliflower as a summer or fall crop. Typically, you’ll plant cauliflower in mid spring for an early summer harvest or in mid summer for a fall harvest. It takes eight to 10 weeks to produce a summer crop and four to five weeks to produce a fall crop. When growing cauliflower, a fall crop will produce more quality plants than a summer crop.
How to Plant Cauliflower
Hot weather, too low of temperatures, or drought will result in premature heads. When growing cauliflower, remember that the plant is sensitive to conditions unfavorable for its growth.
When growing cauliflower, you should have a hotbed or greenhouse to help you produce transplants in the early spring.
Cauliflower grows best in soil that is fertile and soft so it can hold enough moisture. When thinking about how to grow cauliflower, you should remember that it requires a rich soil and lots of nutrients.
When thinking about how to plant cauliflower, you should plant the seeds ½ to ¾ inches deep. The rows should be three to six inches apart, with a maximum of eight seeds per 1 foot of row. If the plant bed starts to overcrowd, thin the plants to 1 inch apart in the row.
When your plants are ready to be moved outside, plant cauliflower on 8- to 10-inch rows at least 36 inches apart. Make sure the rows are at least 15 inches apart. When you first water, use a high phosphate fertilizer so the plants can get a good contact with the soil.
Fertilize frequently; cauliflower likes a good magnesium level as well and will show symptoms of deficiency when the soil is allowed to become too acidic.
Water your cauliflower every five to seven days. This is required for your cauliflower to produce nice heads. Cauliflower is sensitive to both over and under watering as well, so be sure to irrigate the plants so they don’t get stressed.
When to Harvest Cauliflower
Knowing when to harvest cauliflower is important, and you’ll want to tie them in order to blanch them. After tying them, check your garden regularly. If you want to know when to harvest cauliflower, know that the mature heads are a fully developed, clear white and compact head about 6 inches in diameter. Cut the cauliflower from the plant with a large knife, leaving at least one set of leaves to protect the head.
The time when to harvest cauliflower doesn’t end when you harvest the main head. You can harvest continuously after that because the plant will continue to produce little florets after harvesting the main head, much like broccoli. These florets can be harvested and eaten.