I'm going to grow cauliflower for the first time this fall. What varieties do you grow and what do you like about it? Any other growing tips?
Let's Talk Cauliflower
Snowball and Snow Crown Cauliflower would have done well for me last season, if it had gotten cold and stayed cold long enough. Bummer of a winter last season...They really prefer the cold temps, and are happiest around 43-48°.
Start your seeds NOW, inside, and shoot for a seedling with about 6-8 true leaves before you set it out. Mine are indoors under fluorescents 6-8 weeks or so, depending on the outside temps. Try to time your transplant to coincide with when the temps start to chill. Setting them outside too soon, in our roller coaster heat, will stress the plants, and cause them to stall. If the weather has just begun to turn and is relatively stable, they'll take off quickly once you transplant them, so, don't worry that they're inside too long. They can handle the cool of your home better than they want to be outside in the heat...
Also, contrary to popular belief, these Hungry Hippos WILL need a light feeding from time to time, before you transplant them out, or they will rebel, LOL!!! I feed mine weakly, weekly, and they stay happy. After my seeds have germinated, I move them into the coolest room in my home, to avoid having them stall outdoors in the heat...
I struggle with 6 cauliflower every year, and usually they make little button heads or scraggly purplish heads. This year I have 3 good ones in spite of the fact that they were practically killed by a hot spell that began the day before I had to plant them. I'm attributing that to cool weather since they began recovering. I understand that any kind of stress will cause those problems. Too hot. Too cold. Too dry. Too wet. Being root bound before setting out. Flea beetles.
Linda, it's about time for me to plant them out. Can I direct sow them?
You can definitely direct sow. I have gardening control issues and prefer setting out transplants in about 8-10 weeks. Too worn out to sow seeds this past weekend, so maybe this next one...
My direct sown seedlings don't stand a chance against the pillbugs...so, I hedge my bets with a larger seedling.
I grow about 10 each fall. Most are Symphony...maybe a couple early Snow Crown. They are growing rapidly now and need plenty of moisture for best results. I tend to get huge heads. I start them outside in pots and transplant to the garden in July. One advantage to not direct sowing is keeping them away from flea beetles while tiny seedlings and I can set them in the shade during hot days.
That's a pretty good seed-sowing strategy I might be able to use in a few weeks. What are your day and nighttime temps averaging now?
We're still at daytime triple digits and nighttime in the high 80s. And, although there's a light rain shower today, we'll be wearing our humidity tonight!
Do you have an AWS? Drip irrigation? hand watering?
Our present day time temps are running cool this last 3 weeks...72-85. Nights are in the 60s usually. Cauliflower and broccoli need plenty of moisture to thrive till cooler weather.