Cauliflower Seed Germination: Tips On Planting Cauliflower Seeds
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By: Liz Baessler
Cauliflower is a little harder to grow than its cabbage and broccoli relatives. This is mainly because of its sensitivity to temperature – too cold or too hot and it won’t survive. It’s far from impossible, though, and if you’re looking for a little bit of a challenge in your garden this year, why not try growing cauliflower from seeds? Keep reading for a cauliflower seed planting guide.
Cauliflower Seed Germination
Cauliflower grows best at around 60 F. (15 C.). Too far below that and the plant will die. Too far above it and the head will “button,” meaning it will break off into lots of small white parts instead of the desired solid white head. Avoiding these extremes means growing cauliflower from seeds very early in the spring, then transplanting them outside.
The best time for planting cauliflower seeds indoors is 4 to 7 weeks before the last average frost. If you have short springs that get hot quickly, you should aim for closer to seven. Sow your seeds in fertile material at a depth of half an inch (1.25 cm) and water them thoroughly. Cover the soil with plastic wrap until the seeds have sprouted.
Cauliflower seed germination usually takes 8 to 10 days. When the seedlings appear, remove the plastic and keep the soil evenly moist. Place grow lights or fluorescent lights directly over the seedlings and set them on a timer for 14 to 16 hours per day. Keep the lights just a few inches (5 to 10 cm.) above the plants to keep them from getting long and leggy.
Growing Cauliflower from Seeds
Transplant your seedlings outside 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. They’ll still be sensitive to cold, so make sure to harden them off carefully first. Set them outside, out of the wind, for about one hour, then bring them inside. Repeat this every day, leaving them outside an hour longer each time. If it’s unusually cold out, skip a day. Keep this up for two weeks before planting them in the ground.
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Read more about Cauliflower
Growing cauliflower in home gardens
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is the same species as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and turnip, and has many similar needs for good garden performance. For the best quality cauliflower, grow it in rich, moist soil without drought stress.
For those who love it, nothing is better than the richness of cauliflower in an Indian curry, a North African stew, or a creamy soup. In many Minnesota kitchens, raw on a vegetable platter, steamed as a side dish, baked in a cheesy casserole, or pickled and served with a sandwich are all common recipes.
The dense, mounded head of cauliflower is the “curd.” The curd is the flowering stalk of the plant. The edible stage is before the flowers open. Dense, flavorful curds grow in cool temperatures, between 50°F and 70°F.
Some varieties are good for spring planting, growing quickly and producing curds before hot summer weather sets in. Most types are best as a mid-summer planting for fall harvest.
Warm weather during growth of the leafy portion of the plant helps build a large plant, leading to a larger head. Pointy, green Romanesco cauliflower is a fall crop.
Gardeners in the far northeastern part of Minnesota, from Duluth north, can grow excellent quality cauliflower all summer long.
Soil pH and fertility
Soil testing and fertilizer
- Have your soil tested.
- Grow cauliflower in well-drained yet moisture-retentive, fertile soil with pH of 6 to 7. A good cauliflower crop needs this ideal garden soil.
- Apply phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) according to soil test recommendations.
- Many Minnesota soils have enough phosphorus. Unless your soil test report specifically recommends additional phosphorus, use a low- or no-phosphorus fertilizer.
- It is not worth growing cauliflower unless the plants absorb water and nutrients steadily during their growth.
- Improve your soil by adding well-rotted manure or compost in spring or fall.
- Do not use fresh manure as it may contain harmful bacteria and increase weed problems.
- If you use manure or compost, you may not need more fertilizer applications, depending on how much organic matter you use.
- Side-dress when the plants are about four inches tall.
- Do not use any fertilizer containing a weed killer ("Weed and Feed"), as it may kill your vegetable plants.
Planning your cauliflower crop
For spring-planted cauliflower, it is best to plant in early to mid- April. Choose a variety with heat tolerance and a short growth cycle (50 to 60 days to harvest). ‘Snow Crown’ is one of the best for spring growth.
For the fall crop, start seeds indoors or direct seed in the garden, in early to late July.
Whether you plant in spring or summer, a row cover will protect the plants from wind and insects during the first weeks of growth. In spring, use a cover material that will give protection against cold. In summer, use a lightweight material so that temperatures do not get too hot under the cover.
If strong winds loosen a floating row cover, it can do more damage than the plants would suffer without it. Be sure to anchor it firmly with soil and/or pins at the edges. Alternatively, support the row cover with wire hoops, forming a low tunnel.
When to Plant Vegetables in Boise, Idaho
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On average, your frost-free growing season starts May 22 and ends Oct 6, totalling 137 days. You will find both Spring and Fall planting guides on this page.
Plant onion starts and potatoes around March 23. Sow the seeds of peas (sugar snap and english) at the same time. If the ground is still frozen, then plant these as soon as the ground thaws.
Do you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants? Start these indoors around March 13. Then, around May 18 you should start watching the weather forecast and, as soon as no frost is forecast, go ahead and transplant those into the ground.
Okay, now here are the cold, hard numbers, along with specific plants:
|Crop||Sow seeds indoors||Transplant seedlings into the garden||Direct sow seeds|
|Asparagus||n/a||Apr 7 - Apr 22||n/a|
|Beans||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 19|
|Beets||n/a||n/a||Mar 27 - Apr 10|
|Broccoli||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Brussel Sprouts||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Cabbage||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Cantaloupe||n/a||n/a||May 8 - May 22|
|Carrots||n/a||n/a||Apr 10 - May 8|
|Cauliflower||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Chard||n/a||n/a||Apr 10 - Apr 24|
|Collards||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Corn||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 5|
|Cucumbers||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 5|
|Eggplants||Mar 13 - Mar 27||May 22 - Jun 5||n/a|
|Gourds, Squash and Pumpkins||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 5|
|Kale||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Kohlrabi||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Lettuce||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 10 - May 8||Apr 10 - May 8|
|Mustard||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||n/a|
|Okra||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 5|
|Onions||Mar 6 - Mar 13||Mar 23 - Apr 22||n/a|
|Peas (English)||n/a||n/a||Mar 23 - Apr 22|
|Peas (Southern)||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 19|
|Peas (Sugar Snap)||n/a||n/a||Mar 23 - Apr 22|
|Peppers||Mar 13 - Mar 27||May 22 - Jun 5||n/a|
|Potatoes||n/a||n/a||Mar 23 - Apr 22|
|Radishes||n/a||n/a||Apr 7 - Jun 5|
|Spinach||Mar 13 - Mar 27||Apr 24 - May 8||Apr 7 - May 8|
|Sweet Potatoes||n/a||May 22 - Jun 12||n/a|
|Tomatoes||Mar 13 - Mar 27||May 22 - Jun 5||n/a|
|Watermelon||n/a||n/a||May 22 - Jun 5|
Most tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, for example, require around 100 days to harvest, therefore you'd want to transplant those into the ground around June 28. Anyway, it's important to remember that the numbers in this fall planting guide are only a starting point for you! Good luck and good gardening to you.
Fall is the time to plant garlic. Around August 22, take your cloves apart and plant the toes about 3 to 4 inches deep. This may not be accurate! Garlic dates vary wildly around the country. The way to be sure is to use a soil thermometer. When the soil temperature is 60° at a depth of 4 inches, then plant your garlic.
Cole crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can be direct seeded into your garden around July 28, but because of the heat during that time of year, it's better to start them indoors around June 8 and then transplant them into the garden around July 18. Do the same with lettuce and spinach.
Sow peas directly around July 23.
Okay, now here are the cold, hard numbers, along with specific plants:
Varieties to Select
While you can plant any variety of cauliflower in a container, here are a few recommended options to check out:
This hybrid variety is ideal if you are impatient to harvest your homegrown crop, because it matures quickly, in about two months.
Each head is about seven inches in diameter and has a lovely white color with a rich, buttery flavor. This variety has large leaves which makes blanching easy, and exhibits good heat tolerance.
Burpee carries ‘Attribute’ seeds as well as seedlings, if you’d prefer to give them a go – and get to picking time even faster!
No, it won’t taste like cheese, but this orange hybrid cultivar certainly adds some color to a veggie platter!
Ready for harvest in 70 to 75 days, uniform smooth heads should not be blanched if you want them to develop that alluring color.
As an added bonus, orange cultivars like this one contain more vitamin A than their white counterparts.
If you want something that will add a little color to your container garden, ‘Depurple’ produces seven-inch heads in an intense shade of violet.
You don’t need to blanch them in the garden (more on that process a little later – and no, I’m not referring to the process of tossing the florets in boiling water to par-cook them after harvest!) and they take about three months to mature.
‘Depurple’ is rich in healthy anthocyanins, the antioxidants that give it the rich purple color. Check out our guide to learn more about the health benefits of purple produce.
Get your hands on this hybrid stunner with seeds or starts, available from Burpee.
If you want to grow cauliflower but you live in a warmer area, consider planting ‘Flame Star.’
This hybrid cultivar can handle warmer temperatures, which is useful as you tend to get a slight increase in heat if you’re growing your crop in containers set on a cement surface.
Plus, the seven-inch orange heads are pretty stunning.
The plants are medium-sized, reaching about 12 inches tall and wide, and heads are ready to harvest in about 60 days.
‘Snowball Improved’ is a self-blanching heirloom variety, which means the leaves curl up on their own to protect the developing heads from the sun.
You don’t need to pull them up and secure them like you may with other varieties, and the result is pure white heads that range from six to eight inches across.
This is an early type that’s ready to harvest in just 55 to 65 days.
Common pests and diseases: Cauliflower
When growing vegetables, it is always exciting to care for the plant throughout its growing phase and then harvest it for delicious recipes later on, but one thing to watch out for is pests and diseases. Different plants are susceptible to different types of pests and diseases, and it is important to make yourself aware so you can keep a watchful eye and also take any preventative methods to keep your plants safe throughout their lifespan.
Cauliflower can fall victim to several different pests and diseases.
There are several signs and symptoms a cauliflower plant will display if it is being affected by insects. The most common signs are holes in the leaves, missing foliage or poor vigor and missing vegetation. Several common pests affecting cauliflower plants are aphids, cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, slugs, snails and flea beetles.
Aphids are small insects with soft bodies. They can hurt cauliflower plants by sucking on its leaves or stems, or it can also produce a secretion that covers the plant’s flowers and stunts growth. A clue that you may have aphids is if you notice ants, because ants will farm the aphids for their secretion.
Cabbage loopers are light green with yellow stripes. This pest’s larva will create tunnels in the cauliflower’s white head.
There are several different kinds of cabbage worms, such as cabbage webworms and the imported cabbage worm. Cabbage webworms are small and green-striped. Imported cabbage worms are green with an orange stripe. The larva of insects, which typically are cabbage worms, are some of the most destructive pests to cauliflower.
Slugs and snails eat holes in the foliage and leave a slimy trail along the plant. You can pick them off at night, when they’re out and about, or use a diatomaceous earth treatment to control them.
Also use diatomaceous earth to control flea beetles, which will eat holes in the leaves and feed on the cauliflower’s young roots.
To treat other pests naturally, use horticultural soaps or pick the bugs off with your hands.
Diseases affecting cauliflower plants also can affect other cruciferous plants as well, so it’s good to know what they appear as so you can prevent them across your garden. The most common diseases for cauliflower are black spot, which is a fungal disease that turns the leaves yellow and causes them to drop from the plant downy mildew, which is a fungus that attacks young and old plants, creates yellow spots and a white mold bacterial soft rot, which can cause the plant’s roots to become soft and mushy and more. To help prevent cauliflower diseases, it’s important to practice crop rotation, add lime to the soil to prevent fungal infections and make sure there is plenty of space between plants for good air circulation.
In this article, I looked at how to grow cauliflower from scraps. I also answered some of your frequently asked questions about growing cauliflower. I hope you will find this article helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.
1.“Bring vegetable growing indoors this winter” retrieved from here
2. “From Scraps to the Table: How to Regrow Vegetables From Scraps” retrieved from here
3. Sofo A, Sofo A. Converting Home Spaces into Food Gardens at the Time of Covid-19 Quarantine: all the Benefits of Plants in this Difficult and Unprecedented Period [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 21] [published correction appears in Hum Ecol Interdiscip J. 2020 May 15:1]. Hum Ecol Interdiscip J. 20201-9. Source
Cauliflower can start to flower after 50 days of planting. However, this depends on the varieties of cauliflower. Some cauliflower varieties can take longer or lower than this time.
Cauliflower is a biennial vegetable, meaning it only lives for two years to complete its life cycle. Cauliflower can be grown and harvested as annuals. It can also be grown as biennials. So, when you grow cauliflower this year, it can bloom and produce seeds. If you allow the cauliflower without harvesting, it can also bloom the following year before it dies up.