Growing Cauliflower in a Backyard Vegetable Garden

growing cauliflower

The best tips for growing cauliflower when home vegetable gardening.

Learn how and when to plant cauliflower, soil preparation techniques, and how to avoid diseases and pests.

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Cauliflower Family of Plants

Like broccoli, cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family or technically known as brassicas.

Cauliflower is the slowest crop to mature among the other members of its vegetable family.

All brassicas thrive under the same conditions as well as suffer from the same diseases and pests.

Although, the crops are treated individually in the garden, their care is identical.

Other members of the brassica family include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale.

How to Grow Cauliflower from Seeds

  • In March, sow the first of your cauliflower seeds indoors.
  • Sowing about 18 seeds in 4 inch pots filled with commercial potting soil should produce a dozen plants of growing cauliflower.
  • This allows for a percentage lost to poor germination and weaklings.

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cauliflower sign and plants
  • Set the pots of cauliflower where they will receive lots of bright warm sunshine.
  • Transfer the seedlings to individual six-packs when they grow to be about an inch high.
  • The plants will grow quickly inside, so after several weeks, begin the hardening off process.
  • The plants will soon be ready for the outdoor vegetable garden.

Cauliflower Transplants

You can also purchase small cauliflower transplants from your local garden center in time for spring/early summer planting.

Soil Preparation for Cauliflower

  • Before planting cauliflower, prepare the soil with 2 inches of well-aged cow manure or compost.
  • To provide the cauliflower with continuing nourishment, add 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 5 pounds to 100 square feet.
  • Work in four handfuls of ground limestone per a 6 foot row, which helps the cauliflower plants fight clubroot disease.
  • Once the seedlings have been hardened off, plant them at 18 inch spacing, leaving 3 feet between rows.

Companion Planting Cauliflower

You can set lettuce seedlings in between your cauliflower crop.

The lettuce will be ready for harvesting before the growing cauliflower needs the room to grow.

fresh cauliflower growing in the garden

Cauliflower Pests

Begin your pest patrol as soon as the cauliflower is set in the vegetable garden.

It is important to develop an early routine of control measures to protect the plants from a wide variety of pests that can demolish your crops.

Put a cutworm collar around each plant and give the plants a dose of Bacillus thuringiensis.

Continue dosing the growing cauliflower at 7 to 10 day intervals until harvest time to manage the cabbageworm caterpillar.

For protection against the root maggot, the most dangerous insect of all, add diazinon to a mixture of foliar fertilizer and water and repeat this application at 10 day intervals throughout the growing season.

If you want to use a nonchemical alternative to the diazinon applications, many avid gardeners recommend using a root maggot mat.

The mats not only restrict the maggots but the cutworms as well.

Cauliflower Diseases

Brassica family of vegetables

A generally fatal disease that can strike your growing cauliflower is the dreaded clubroot.

This disorder is usually traced to plants that have been grown in unsterile conditions.

The problem is typically attributed to infected seedlings, which is one of the hazards of buying plants rather than starting your crops from seed.

If you notice the plants wilting even though the soil is damp, this is a danger sign of clubroot.

If you suspect clubroot, remove the cutworm collar and brush away the soil from the plant.

Affected plants will bear a tumor-like growth on the stem, just at the soil line.

The disease chokes off the water-carrying cells within the stems causing the plants to die.

In an effort to save your cauliflower, add two clubroot enemies to the soil: ground limestone and a fungicide such as Terraclor.

Hill up the soil several inches around the plants to encourage new roots to form higher up the stems.


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