9 secrets for planting and growing cauliflower in your garden
Cauliflower, the favorite winter vegetable with beneficial properties for health. Cauliflower cultivation begins in the autumn and is ready for harvest about 3 months later. It is a herbaceous plant that has characteristically elongated leaves, wide and fleshy that form in the shape of a rosette. As with its cousin broccoli, the flower head grows between the leaves of the plant. The delicious cauliflower that we eat as a fruit, is essentially the flower head of the plant, an edible flower that includes a set of bouquets of hypertrophic flowers
Cauliflower has a high nutritional value, as it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and minerals. In addition, it has very few calories and no fat. Growing cauliflower is quite easy and can be done both in the garden and in a pot on the balcony. Let’s see in detail what care is needed to grow cauliflower to thrive along with tips to enjoy the most delicious cauliflower from our garden
1. What varieties of cauliflower do we choose to grow?
There are many varieties and hybrids of cauliflower that are grown in our country and give excellent flower heads. Cauliflower varieties differ depending on the ripening season and the characteristics they have in terms of color, shape and consistency of the flower head. The most common varieties of cauliflower are the white ones, although cauliflowers with a purple flower head are extremely interesting, which are characterized by greater resistance to high temperatures.
2. What cultivation conditions does cauliflower needs to grow?
Cauliflower as a cold season vegetable grows in a cool environment. Specifically, cauliflower is grown at temperatures between 14 to 22 degrees Celsius. Cauliflower needs sunny places to thrive, as in semi-shady places it is slow to ripen. It can grow in all types of soils except very alkaline or calcareous soils and needs enough soil moisture to achieve quality production. It should be noted that the cauliflower flower head when formed is vulnerable to frost and high temperatures.
3. When is cauliflower planted and at what distances?
Cauliflower planting in the vegetable garden begins in August and usually lasts until mid-autumn. There are also early varieties planted in the spring. Cauliflower is propagated by seed. We can, of course, obtain ready-made cauliflower seedlings from nurseries or plant it in a bed 1.5 months before transplanting in the field. Suitable planting distances for cauliflower cultivation are about 40-50 cm on the line and 60-80 cm between the planting lines. If we have limited space or when growing in elevated flower beds, cauliflower can be co-cultivated with onions, potatoes, celery, dill and lettuce.
4. Can we plant cauliflower in a pot on the balcony?
Cauliflower can also be grown in pots, although it is not very popular. As it produces only one flower head, many feel that it is not worthwhile to commit a pot to it. Cauliflower loves the sun, so we place the pots in a sunny position on the balcony, relatively sheltered from strong winds. We prefer places with south or east orientation to ensure better production of cauliflower.
For planting cauliflower, we use relatively deep and large pots with a diameter of about 30 cm. We choose enriched soil, rich in nutrients, especially for vegetables. Alternatively, instead of topsoil, we can make our own soil mixture to fill the pots where we will plant cauliflower using peat, compost, well-digested manure and perlite in a ratio of 5: 1: 3: 1
5. How often does cauliflower cultivation need watering?
Cauliflower needs frequent watering, as it requires constant soil moisture in the soil for its flower head to grow smoothly. If watering the cauliflower is not enough, the flower head becomes smaller and of lower quality. We water 2-3 times a week, during the autumn period, depending on the rainfall that we have during this period. It should be noted that in conditions of excessive soil moisture or poor drainage, cauliflower is susceptible to fungal diseases.
6. What fertilizer does cauliflower cultivation need?
When planting cauliflower, we recommend mixing digested manure and complete organic fertilizer in a ratio of 1: 1. Cauliflower is not very demanding on nutrients and it is enough to add complete organic fertilizer once a month. We should be aware that the excessive addition of nitrogen and manure fertilizer degrades the quality of the flower head, making it less cohesive. Also, boron deficiency is a problem that can cause hollow flower heads, so it is advisable to supplement foliar fertilization with boron.
7. Which insects and which diseases affect the cultivation of cauliflower?
Cauliflower is affected by the same insects and diseases that affect the cultivation of cabbage and the cultivation of broccoli. Initially, dusting or spraying with a Thuringian bacillus is necessary to treat the caterpillar infestation of cauliflower. Also, the cultivation of cauliflower is affected by the meligra, the floury, the stinky, as well as by the nightshade. For the ecological treatment of insects, we can use organic insecticides such as natural pyrethrum and potassium salts that can be obtained from agricultural stores.
Cauliflower cultivation is affected by various fungal diseases, such as downy mildew that causes yellowing of the leaves, as well as fusarium and herbicides that infect the root system of the plant. To treat downy mildew, we spray the cauliflower with ecological copper preparations that we procure from agricultural stores. Alternatively, at a precautionary level, we can use homemade ingredients and spray by dissolving 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a liter of water. To treat Fusarium disease and rhizoctonia, water the root with a solution of copper sulfate (blue stone).
8. When do we harvest cauliflower and how can we preserve it?
As we said above, out of every cauliflower plant we plant, we harvest only one cauliflower and that is another reason why we must be very careful in cutting the cauliflower at the right time. The cauliflower is ready to eat about three months after transplanting, when the flower head is firm, cohesive and retains its white color. The size of the flower head is around 10 cm in diameter and weighs about 1 kg. If we delay the harvest, the quality of our cauliflower deteriorates, as it hardens inside, loses its tenderness and is unsuitable for cooking.
Cauliflower can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator in a plastic food bag. We can also cut the cauliflower into pieces, put it in a plastic food bag and store it in the freezer for a few weeks without browning. If you want to keep the cauliflower for a longer time, follow the following procedure: put it in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then rinse it with ice water. After letting the cauliflower dry, we can keep it in the freezer for several months.
9. And one last secret for growing cauliflower
To protect the white color of the cauliflower from the intense sunshine and heat that can cause burns and quality degradation, as soon as the flower head reaches a size that is 5 cm in diameter, we can tie the outer leaves of the cauliflower on top of it to create shadow in a natural way.
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