Mark Twain once said,
“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond.
Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
Mark Twain was not dissing cabbage, he was actually extolling the virtues of a college education. At that time cauliflower was expensive, festive, and glamorous. In short, cauliflower was not to be had by just anybody; nor for a few pennies. It was the queen of vegetables, and was often steamed whole and served elaborately garnished.
Cabbage, on the other hand, was on everybody’s plate… it was just a working stiff, without the benefit of a college education.
Cauliflower, like it cousins, genus brassica, is high in vitamins C, K, and B1.
Cauliflower is a modified form of cabbage. Cauliflower is more difficult to grow than its relatives such as broccoli.
For best success, try only spring and fall plantings since the plant does not tolerate heat or cold very well. It likes temperature in the 60s, likes full sun with a minimum of 6 hours and best with 14 hours of light. Soil should be fertile and high in organic matter.
Cauliflower likes a soil pH of 6 .5 to 7.0
Because it is so finicky, it is best to start as transplants rather sowing seed in the garden. Transplanting should be done 2 to 4 weeks before average last frost date.
Check local frost dates at https://www.ars.usda.gov
Another site you can check is https://www.almanac.com
If you feel lucky, and want to start by seed, you need to start germination 4 to 6 weeks before you want to plant outdoors. Water the seeds during germination, and plant seeds an inch deep. Be sure you harden them off (get them used to the outdoor weather) before outside planting.
Cauliflower has many colors available. Make sure they have consistent moisture. As they are growing, add a little nitrogen and phosphorus. In the beginning, cauliflower is open, and loose leaves surround the head. You may need to secure the leaves around the head to keep it covered which helps keep the fruit from the sun to maintain the white color.
The heads need to be removed with a knife when harvesting. If the head is small but has started to open, it should be harvested because it won’t get bigger.
Companion plants (or plants that can be planted in close proximity) are beets, broccoli, chard, cucumbers, corn, radish and spinach. DO NOT plant with onions, peas, strawberries or tomatoes.
One pest that loves cauliflower is aphids. They hide inside, and just washing will not remove the aphids. My solution is to spray vinegar, or let some lady bugs loose! The spray is quicker.
A tidbit from Wikipedia:
Cauliflower has been noticed by mathematicians for its distinct fractal dimension, calculated to be roughly 2.8.One of the fractal properties of cauliflower is that every branch, or “module”, is similar to the entire cauliflower. Another quality, also present in other plant species, is that the angle between “modules,” as they become more distant from the center, is 360 degrees divided by the golden ratio.
Wish you the best in your cauliflower-growing adventures!