Growing cauliflower from seed in the home garden is easy with this step by step guide including pictures. Cauliflowers are a must for the winter garden with their large white heads which melt in the mouth when picked fresh from your garden.
Cauliflowers are a member of the brassica family with its name being derived from Italian meaning ‘cabbage flower’. It can be traced back to the 1st century AD with hundreds of historical and modern varieties.
Cauliflowers do need adequate water and favorable weather conditions to produce heads which are smooth in texture when cooked. However, they are worth the effort as a fresh cauliflower tastes better than anything you can buy.
Culinary Uses for Cauliflowers
Cauliflowers are a staple food in many countries. Fresh cauliflower is wonderful steamed or boiled however it can be made more appealing to children by adding a simple sauce over the top such as cream mixed with a little Dijon mustard.
They are also the perfect vegetable for adding to stir fry’s, curries and vegetable soup. Try this Cauliflower and Pea Casserole recipe.
Growing Cauliflower from Seed
It is best to plant cauliflower seed in punnets with seed raising mix then transplant to their final position once they have their second leaves. Plant the seed at least 6 weeks before they are due to be planted in the garden.
Cauliflowers do not like hot weather and should not be grown during hot months of the year. Heat and lack of water will produce gritty tasting flesh.
It will depend on your climate. Cauliflowers like cool temperatures with maximums between 70 – 85°F (21 – 29°C). In temperate climates plant out seedlings in the middle of fall (autumn). In cooler climates plant out seedlings in the middle of summer.
Cauliflowers like a free draining soil which is rich in organic matter. Improve clay soils with compost and dolomite or consider using a raised bed.
Choose a full sun to part shade position in the garden which is protected from strong winds.
On average they will take 100 to 140 days to mature from sowing the seed depending on the variety and the climatic conditions.
Germinating and Planting Cauliflowers
Tools and Materials Needed
- Cauliflower Seeds – Try this early White Hybrid Cauliflower Seeds which are highly rated on Amazon. (Paid link)
- Seed Punnets and Saucer
- Seed Raising Mix or Sifted Compost
- Shovel and Trowel
- Aged Manure or Compost
- Garden Lime (For acid soils)
- Liquid Fertilizer – This 10 pound pack of Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food is great value. (Paid link)
- Snail Baits – This value pack of Snail and Slug Pellets is safe for humans and pets. It also remains effective after rain. (Paid link)
- Vegetable Dust – This organic Vegetable and Flower Dust by Captain Jack is highly rated. (Paid link)
Growing cauliflower from seed in the home garden.
Sow the Seed
Fill the seed punnet with seed raising mix or fine soil then water well. Make indentations in the soil an inch apart and ¼ inch (5mm) deep then place 2 cauliflower seeds in each hole. Gently backfill the soil then keep moist with a mist spray. Place in a saucer to catch any excess water then place in a sunny warm position such as a windowsill.
Plant Out Seedlings
Thin out seedlings which had 2 seeds germinate together. Once the seedlings have their second leaves they are ready to plant out. Prepare the soil by adding compost or aged manure and lime for acid soils. Plant the seedlings 20 inches (50cm) apart in rows 30 inches (75cm) apart.
If you are in an area with low rainfall it is beneficial to make a ridge of soil around the plant to keep the water where it is needed. Place snail bait around the plant then mulch and water in well.
Fertilize with a half strength of liquid fertilizer 2 weeks after planting then use a full strength liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks for the best results.
Keep an eye on the leaves. If you see they are being eaten then dust the leaves with vegetable dust.
Harvest the cauliflower heads once the leaves open and reveal the head. The head will still be compact. Be careful not to leave the heads too long or they will become gritty. Peel back the leaves then cut the base stem with a sharp knife.
The leaves of the cauliflower can also be eaten however if you don’t like the idea of eating the leaves simply add them to your compost after harvesting the head.
To get more out of your home and garden see this Homesteading guide which covers everything from craft projects to preserving food.
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