Light requirements: Full sun.
Planting: Space 18 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Cauliflower needs well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.5 to 6.8.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Aim for 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week through rainfall or irrigation. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.
Frost-fighting plan: Established plants tolerate light frosts (28 to 32º F). It’s a good idea to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts by covering plants with either a frost blanket or cut-off milk jugs or plastic soda bottles.
Pests to watch out for: Cabbage loopers and imported cabbageworms are common cauliflower pests. Other problems include cabbage root maggots, aphids and flea beetles.
Common issues: Diseases include black leg, black rot, clubroot and yellows; pests include cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, cabbage root maggots, aphids, and flea beetles. Cauliflower forms the best heads when temperatures are in the 60s; excessively small heads result when plants experience prolonged low temps (40º F or lower) or high temps (above 80º F).
Growing tip: When the head is 2 inches across, cover it with the upper leaves, using a clothespin to hold the leaves in place. This will allow the head to turn white.
Harvesting: Cut heads that are large and fully developed, with tight buds. (Judge harvest time by bud tightness, not overall head size.) Cut stems just below heads. Once cauliflower buds start to crack open, stems and buds lose their appealing texture, becoming mealy and even woody. Cut any head immediately if you see buds beginning to open.
Storage: Refrigerate unwashed heads in a loosely closed plastic bag. Heads will store up to 14 days. Always store cauliflower with the stem end down to keep any stray water drops away from the florets.
For more information, visit the Cauliflower page in our How to Grow section.
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Dietary fiber: 1g
- Protein: 1g
- Vitamin C: 46% DV
- Vitamin K: 11%
- Vitamin B6: 5%
- Folate: 7%
Munching on raw cauliflower has always been a popular with dieters and for good reason: cauliflower is very low in calories, high in fiber, low in carbohydrates, and packed with a very long list of nutrients. Cooking does not seem to change the nutrient levels significantly. When cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli are cut, an important group of phytonutrients called isothiocyanates begin to form on the surface. Researchers studying the benefits of these nutrients suggest letting the cut vegetables sit for five to ten minutes before cooking; then cook as briefly as possible to retain nutrients and prevent formation of smelly sulphur compounds.