Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)
Related vegetables: arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (all types), cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rutabaga, turnip, horseradish, collards, watercress
- Cauliflower is a hardy biennial. The head, called the curd, is made of dormant flower buds. The curd is usually white (snowball type), blanched by pulling the leaves over the head during growth. Hybrids between broccoli and cauliflower are available with purple or green heads (“broccoflower”). Purple cauliflower tastes like broccoli if harvested before frost, like cauliflower if harvested after frost. The purple color is lost during cooking
- Plants are medium height, about 3 ft
- For spring planting, put transplants in the ground 2-3 weeks before average last frost date after the soil has warmed to 50 °F. Do not plant so late that the curd matures in the heat of the summer. If growing from seed, plant indoors 5-7 weeks earlier. Space plants 18-24” apart with rows a minimum of 24” apart. Spacing within a wide row is 12-18”
- For fall harvest, plant transplants 7-9 weeks before average first frost date (about mid-August in northern Indiana, late August in southern Indiana). Put transplants further apart than the spacing listed for spring plantings
- Cauliflower is ready for harvest 50-55 days from transplanting for early season cultivars and in 70- 80 days for late season varieties. Harvest by cutting far enough below the head to include several leaves to help hold the head together. Each plant produces only one head. Estimated yield per 10 ft row is 10 lb
Sow seeds 1/4-1/2” deep. Seeds are usually started indoors but may be planted in soil for the fall crop. Seeds germinate in 5-6 days at 70-80 °F. Grow on at 60-70 °F with cooler night temperatures. If using transplants, don’t let them get too large (no more than about 4”) before planting. However, plants with less than 3-4 pairs of true leaves are sensitive to frost. Practice crop rotation. Do not plant the same area with a cole crop two years running.