Cauliflower is trickier to grow than its relatives because it doesn’t like it too hot… or too cold. Learn how to successfully grow cauliflower enjoy harvesting this delicious and versatile vegetable.
How to Successfully Grow Cauliflower
To grow cauliflower successfully, it needs at least 2 months of cool weather (60 degrees is ideal) to mature. Cauliflower is a cool weather crop in the Brassica family. (Brassicas include collards, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli and Brussels sprouts).
Cauliflower varieties to plant that do well in Arizona are Snowball, Snow Queen and Snow Prince. Try purple or colored varieties such as ‘Violetta’. Plant seeds in Maricopa County
starting August 15th. Set out transplants beginning in September if temperatures are cool enough. Continue planting seeds and transplants until January.
Plant seeds up to ¼ inch deep in compost-rich soil and keep moist.
When choosing transplants at the nursery, avoid ‘leggy’ transplants. Instead, look for compact green leaves on a short stem.
Taking Care of Cauliflower Plants
Water carefully around plants, and avoid wetting leaves. Cauliflower likes a steady supply of moisture; do not let beds dry out between waterings. Soak plants to a depth of 6 inches for large tender heads. Adding a thick layer of compost will help garden beds retain moisture. Do not disturb roots. Cauliflower responds well to a monthly or bi-weekly feeding with an all-purpose fertilizer.
Cauliflower heads in some varieties can discolor if they are exposed to sunlight. To prevent this discoloration, try blanching (it’s not as hard as it sounds). When head is visible and about 2 inches wide, clip outer leaves together with a clothespin to cover head and keep out of sunlight. Clip loosely and check occasionally for pests and growth, or to let the head dry out after a rain.
When the head is about 6 inches across and buds are tight and unopened, it is time to harvest. Cut off below head with a sharp knife. Unlike broccoli, cauliflower doesn’t usually produce side stems after main head is harvested, so remove remaining plant from bed. Cauliflower will store for several weeks in the refrigerator.