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Solve the Mystery of Growing Cauliflower


Cauliflower is a wonderful cool season vegetable that can be a challenge to grow. It does not like hot weather and does much better when started outside. Cauliflower can be grown in the ground or in a container but keep in mind that it takes room.

The process of growing cauliflower starts with purchasing the correct seed. When considering ordering seed, make sure that it will grow in your USDA Planting Zone. Once the seed has come in, you will need to decide when you want to harvest your crop. Cauliflower can be grown in early spring and fall. If you want to get it into the garden space sooner, start the seed in a greenhouse, cold frame or cloche.

Cauliflower seed can be started in a seedbed or tray. Regardless of which approach you choose, you will have to prepare the soil for the bed and the garden space. The soil for the seedbed or tray needs to be firm and fertile. This can be accomplished by adding well-seasoned compost to the soil. If using a seedbed, simply rake the compost on the surface of the soil. If using a tray, just mix it in with the soil.

After the soil has been prepared, it is time to plant the seed. Planting seed in a seedbed is simple but takes a little homework. The first step is to make rows that are ½ inch deep and six inches apart. Once this is done, plant the seed and push the seed down into the soil with a firm hand. Do not cover with soil. After all the seeds have been planted, water the seeds in.

If planting in a seed tray, wash the trays with a combination of warm soapy water and one capful of bleach. Rinse completely and let air-dry. Fill with soil and compact down with the hand. Once this is done, plant the seeds as usual and place in a greenhouse, cold frame and/or cloche.

Keep seeds moist. Once the seeds have germinated, it is time to move them to the garden space but before the move the garden needs to be prepared. Cauliflower likes a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0. This pH level reduces the chance of developing club root. Test the garden soil and remediate as necessary.

Also, a large amount of seasoned compost will need to be added to the surface and raked smooth. Do not till in because cauliflower likes a firm soil. It is better to do this in the fall before planting a spring crop but if you cannot do this just make sure that it is well-seasoned compost. Add to the garden a good dose of an all-purpose fertilizer two to three weeks before moving the seedlings to the garden space.

Cauliflower planted in a seedbed will need to be thinned when they reach one inch in height. Make sure the seedlings are three inches apart to keep them from becoming spindly. Move them to a sunny location in the garden when the seedlings reach six inches in height or have five to six leaves. Before moving the seedlings though, make the transition easy by following these three steps. One, moisten the soil in the seedbed the night before the move. Two, keep as much soil around the roots as possible and three, transplant at night. All these steps will reduce plant stress.

Move the seedlings to the garden space making sure not to plant them any deeper then they were in the seedbed and spacing them 15 to 24 inches apart. Firm the soil around the seedlings before watering in.

The process involved in using a seed tray is the same but the seedlings are transplanted sooner. Seedlings grown in a tray will need to be moved into a pot when they have one to two true leaves. Move to the garden space when they are six inches in height.

Cauliflower can be grown in a container. The container, though, needs to be eight inches deep and 18 inches wide.

As the cauliflower grows, you will need to monitor the leaves for little yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves. These eggs come from the Large White Butterfly larvae, which can destroy ones cauliflower very quickly. To eliminate this problem is simple and only requires the gardener to squish the eggs.

Once the head has formed, it will need to be protected from birds, pests, and the sun. This is easily done by pulling up five to six leaves over the head and securing them with a rubber band or clothespin.

When picking your cauliflower, pick it small. Heads that are large and have begun to separate in flowerettes are past their prime.

Cauliflower can be picked and stored indoors for later use. This can be done by pulling up the plant and removing as much of the soil from the roots as possible. Then, hang upside down in a cool room and spray with water several times a day. This will keep your cauliflower fresh for two to three weeks.


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When a tree, or any plant for that matter, has to compete for water, food and nutrients, it can place extra stress on it.

Try and keep the area under trees and plants weed free. They will grow faster, and healthier.

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