image by Supriya O/Flickr.com
The most important thing to know about cauliflower is that it is simple to grow when you have the proper conditions. This vegetable is a cold-weather crop that does not like very hot, dry summers. If you live near the ocean, you are in a fine location. If you live inland, and wish to grow cauliflower, grow your plants in a partial shade area and make sure you spray the plants with water to keep them moist.
Choose a garden location that is full sun, if you live by the ocean. The spray from the sea will keep your plants moist.
Plant your cauliflower seeds after all threat of frost is gone in your area.
Mix compost into the soil as you break it up, for a high-nutrient dirt. This will also amend the soil if it is clay-based. The earlier in the spring this can be done, the better. You may even choose to work the soil in the fall the year before. Cauliflower likes soil that has had time to consolidate.
Create a mounded hill by using your hoe to make a moat in a circle. The circle should be about 2 feet across.
Plant three to four seeds, about 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep, on the top of the hill. Cover the seeds with soil. However, always follow package directions if they differ, as varieties may have alternate planting requirements.
Keep the top soil of the hill moist. When the large leaves appear on the seedlings (you will recognize them), you may begin using the moat to water the plants. Fill it about once a week. If you are having a particularly warm spell, you may need to water more often. Check to see if the soil at the bottom of the moat is dry 2 inches down. If so, water it.
Thin the cauliflower plants to just one or two of the healthiest-looking ones, when the cauliflower plants show their larger leaves.
Use string or twine to loosely tie the large leaves together over the head of the young cauliflower, when they are big enough to do so. This will keep out moisture and light, which will give you a nice white head of cauliflower at harvest time. This process also protects the vegetable from birds and pesky insects. The string will eventually fall off by itself, as the plant grows.
Chop the cauliflower head, at the base, when the vegetable is mature. It is mature when the flowerets are full, but not yet starting to open. Use a sharp knife, leaving a few leaves around the cauliflower head.