Cauliflower, like all the cruciferous vegetable loves to grow in cold climate. It doesn’t require a garden or a farm to grow. But just a little leg room makes it easy for people with space restrictions to grow them abundantly. Some tough soil and right climatic conditions with proper temperatures are the basic pre-requisites.
Season: Belonging to the cabbage and broccoli family cauliflower entails cold climate. We have to plan a season when it is winter or at least as closely cold as winter season. However, if you can regulate temperatures indoor you can have cauliflowers all round the year.
Location Constraints: The growth pattern of cauliflower from seed to plant changes when the seeds have sprouted out with one or two leaves. Then you might want to consider shifting them to bigger containers and cultivating them properly giving them space and enough sunlight.
Sunlight: Mild continuous supply of sunlight is necessary for home grown cauliflowers. Hot temperatures can shrink the cauliflower heads and make them look like buttons. Ensure that you provide sunlight and shade equally.
Spacing: The container in which you are trying to cultivate cauliflower should be minimum 8 inches deep. The size of the container depends on how many seedlings you want to grow in one container. Each flower head requires about 18 inches in radius to grow.
Growth: Cauliflowers grows well on moist soil. Never allow the soil to dry out. After the saplings start growing ‘blanching’ technique can be used to nurture them further more. This technique involves the leaves to be tied to the head of the flower so as to cover it completely. This will provide a shade over the head and will keep the flower white.
Height and Spreading: The plants require 50 to 120 days to mature. They spread graciously covering over 18 inches in radius depending on the container they are placed in and the number of plants in the container. Sowing only a couple of cauliflower seeds in one pot allow the plants to grow without fighting for space.
Temperature:Though cauliflowers love warm temperatures they cannot tolerate anything beyond 23 degrees Celsius. They tend to dry out with increase in temperature and the heads remain stunted without growing further. Balance with regular watering if the heat soars suddenly.
Watering: From the seed stage, cauliflowers require plenty of water to thrive. Water shortage can slow down the growth resulting in button heads. Ensure the soil is always damp but well drained at the same time.
Nutrient Management: Regular watering and good soil largely minimise the use of fertilisers in cauliflower crops. However, you might spot sluggish growth patterns sometimes. Usage of a liquid organic fertiliser would be of great help in such cases. Try using vermicompost or a nitrogen based fertiliser to enhance better growth of cauliflower plants.
Pest Management: Aphids, maggots and flea beetles are the major pests that attack the cauliflower heads. Strong watering and sanitising the soil before seed sowing shall serve the purpose of knocking out small flies and insects. If nothing works you may use an organic insecticide. Pest control combo-Neem based is a product from TheOrganic.Life which helps in keeping the crop health .
Harvesting: Harvesting cauliflower should be judged with the size of the flower head. When the flower heads are anywhere between 6 to 8 inches across then you may consider to harvest the plant. The head will taste the best at this size. You may cut as deep as possible to take even one or two leaves along with the head. Cauliflowers can be stored in refrigerators for about two weeks.
Uses and health benefits: Like the other vegetables in its family, cauliflower provides good dosages of Vitamin-C, fiber and cancer fighting compounds. Similarly, cauliflowers are rich in choline which is more popular as the ‘brain nutrient’. Naturally available choline boosts brain development and improves memory span, learning and cognitive abilities. Stewed, fried, roasted or simply boiled, make cauliflower a part of your diet to promote good health.
Additional Information:The soil that is used to grow cauliflowers may not be considered good for growing vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage. It is always better to use the soil to grow crops like beans, peas, lettuce etc.