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What’s Wrong With My Cauliflower?

What's wrong with my cauliflower?

What's wrong with my cauliflower?

The first time I grew cauliflower, it turned out perfectly. I thought… this is easy! I tried growing it again this year and I had plenty of volunteers for the “what’s wrong with my cauliflower?” pictures. 

Cauliflower is a cool weather crop in the Brassica family (which includes cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli and Brussels sprouts). It’s trickier to grow than its relatives because it doesn’t like it too hot … or too cold. It is also very sensitive to moisture and doesn’t like to have soggy roots or dry out. 

Some things (such as temperature) are out of our control. But for more detailed information on how to successfully grow cauliflower, check out this post.

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Wondering, "What's wrong with my cauliflower?"

Do any of these pictures look familiar?

Discoloration or purple tinged edges in white varieties – This can be caused by exposure to sunlight. To prevent this, cover head by blanching.

To blanch: When head is visible and about 2 inches wide, outer leaves can be clipped together with a clothespin to cover head and keep out of sunlight. Clip together loosely and check occasionally for pests and growth, or to let dry out after a rain.

What's wrong with my Cauliflower? #cauliflower #howtogrowcauliflower #gardening #howto
What's wrong with my cauliflower?

Bitter taste – This can be caused by too much heat or sun. It can also taste bitter from a lack of moisture, uneven watering, waiting too long to harvest or overcooking. Purple varieties tend to be less bitter. 

Loose heads or buttoning (very small head or several small heads) – This can be caused by young plants exposed to several days of freezing temperatures. It can also be caused by a lack of
water or nitrogen, or waiting too long to harvest.

What's wrong with my Cauliflower? #cauliflower #howtogrowcauliflower #gardening #howto
What's wrong with my Cauliflower? #cauliflower #howtogrowcauliflower #gardening #howto

Head covered in small flowers – This happens when you wait too long to harvest. Cauliflower has bolted and is focused on producing seeds. The plant becomes bitter and inedible.  

(Bolting happens when the ground reaches a certain temperature. The plant wants to ensure survival and shifts to producing flowers and seeds rapidly.) 

Holes in leaves – This is caused by cabbage worms or cabbage loopers.

  • When you see the holes, handpick caterpillars.
  • Cover small plants with floating row cover to prevent moths from landing on leaves and laying eggs.
  • Bacillus Thuricide is helpful when applied correctly.
  • Rotate where you plant brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc.) each season to help prevent pest and disease problems from building up in the soil. 

Read here for more tips to prevent pests and diseases organically in the garden.

What's wrong with my cauliflower?

Now that you learned what went wrong, learn how to grow cauliflower successfully by reading this post

Fresh cauliflower from the garden or farmer’s market? Here are my five favorite ways to use fresh cauliflower

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What's wrong with my cauliflower?
What's wrong with my cauliflower?

Gloria J Liuzzo

Sunday 16th of June 2019

My Cauliflower hasn't grown much since I planted it a month ago. It has rained a lot here in PA, and I know they don't like soggy feet but is this the reason or could it be something else I did wrong?

Angela Judd

Monday 17th of June 2019

Cauliflower is definitely the most temperamental member of the brassica family. That could be it, the weather this year has been extremely difficult in some regions. Hang tight and hopefully, it will come out of it and begin to thrive.