Organic Cauliflower Growing Basics
Orange juice isn’t the only way to fill your Vitamin C quota for the day. Grow some cauliflower in the family garden and reap the health benefits!
Of all Brassica genus vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, kale and cabbage), cauliflower is the most difficult to grow. It needs cool temperatures, a lot of moisture and fertile soil. It does not withstand frost as well as its Brassica relatives, yet it will not form a head in hot weather.
Although often planted as a spring crop, cauliflower is easiest to grow for fall harvesting. Early cauliflower requires 55 to 80 days to mature from the time seedlings are set out. Fall crops are grown outdoors from seed and take about 10 weeks to mature.
Organic fertilizers will help cauliflowers grow to their best potential as it does other Brassicas.
The pure white color of cauliflower that you are used to seeing is achieved by blanching, or covering the head to shut out light that would otherwise turn the flower buds (called curds) to green. Blanching also preserves the cauliflower’s delicate flavor. There are “self-blanching” varieties of cauliflower, which have tall leaves to shade the curd. Although most cauliflower is white, there are purple varieties that do not have to be blanched and are often recommended for home gardeners. These purple cauliflowers turn green when they are cooked and have a similar taste to their relative, broccoli.