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Growing cauliflower in home gardens

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Quick facts

  • Grow where you have not grown related crops—cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard, turnip, rutabaga—for the past four years.
  • For spring-planted cauliflower, start seeds indoors in April.
  • For the fall crop, start seeds in July, indoors or direct seeded in the garden.
  • Grow in rich, moist soil without drought stress.
  • Blanch white cauliflower. Green, orange and purple types need sunlight to develop color.

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is the same species as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and turnip, and has many similar needs for good garden performance. For the best quality cauliflower, grow it in rich, moist soil without drought stress.

For those who love it, nothing is better than the richness of cauliflower in an Indian curry, a North African stew, or a creamy soup. In many Minnesota kitchens, raw on a vegetable platter, steamed as a side dish, baked in a cheesy casserole, or pickled and served with a sandwich are all common recipes.

The dense, mounded head of cauliflower is the “curd.” The curd is the flowering stalk of the plant. The edible stage is before the flowers open. Dense, flavorful curds grow in cool temperatures, between 50°F and 70°F.

Some varieties are good for spring planting, growing quickly and producing curds before hot summer weather sets in. Most types are best as a mid-summer planting for fall harvest.

Warm weather during growth of the leafy portion of the plant helps build a large plant, leading to a larger head. Pointy, green Romanesco cauliflower is a fall crop.

Gardeners in the far northeastern part of Minnesota, from Duluth north, can grow excellent quality cauliflower all summer long.

Soil pH and fertility

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Planting

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How to keep your cauliflower plants healthy and productive

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Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2018

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