Cauliflower is a popular cool-season annual crop that you would love to grow in your garden. This tasty vegetable comes in various varieties and fun colors. Usually, cauliflower thrives between 55 degrees F to 68 degrees F.
You can plant varieties that mature fast in spring or fall. If you are planting a variety that takes 80 or more days to get matured, plant it for fall harvest. Generally, depending on variety, cauliflower matures in 50 to 85 days.
How to Get Cauliflower Seeds?
You might be wondering where cauliflower seeds come from and how do they look like. Most gardeners never get seeds from their cauliflower plants. Cauliflower – like other members of the brassica family – are biennial produce seeds in their second year.
How Do Cauliflower Seeds Look Like?
Cauliflowers take two seasons to produce seeds. In the first growing season, this plant produces a head. When this head is unpicked, seed pods start emerging from it the following summer.
However, if you are in a colder climate, you would have to dig out plants in the fall, store them during winter, and then replant them in spring.
How to Get Good Cauliflower Seeds?
To get good-quality cauliflower seeds, choose and set aside at least six of the healthiest plants from your garden. The more they are the better chances to get viable seeds. The flowers of cauliflower plants are self-incompatible. It means that they would reject any pollen that they produce themselves.
To provide bees a wider range of plants for pollination, plant at least 20 plants as it will allow bees to pollinate the flowers easily. It also helps in improving your seed set and ensuring healthy genetic diversity.
Harvesting Cauliflower Seeds
In a cauliflower plant, stalks can reach up to 4 feet tall. Seeds are present in the pods along with the growing stalks. Over several weeks, these seeds ripe from the bottom to the top until they fully ripen.
- Once the pods on your plant are dried, remove the plant from the ground.
- Hang the selected cauliflowers for 2 weeks allowing them to dry completely.
- Remove the dried pods from the plant. Carefully, use your fingers to break open the pods over a bowl to collect seeds.
- Store seeds in a cool dry place.
- Your seeds can remain viable for up to 5 years.
As cauliflower is a cross-breeding plant, it can cross-pollinate with almost all brassica family members including broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc. Due to this reason, the Internation Seed Saving Institue has recommended a distance of 1000 feet between cauliflower plants and any other brassica family member.
If during the second growing season of the plant, any plant develops disease or gets damaged, pull that plant. Only store seeds from your strongest cauliflower plants.
How to Grow Cauliflowers From Seeds?
You can grow cauliflower plants from seeds both indoors and outdoors. Let’s see how you can do this.
Starting Cauliflower Plants From Seeds Indoors
Growing cauliflower plants indoors from seeds is quite simple. By following some simple best practices, you can keep your seedlings strong and healthy. These practices include:
- Ample bright light
- Sterile fluffy and light seed mix
- Consistent moisture
For spring harvest, you can plant cauliflower seeds in the mid of August and then transplant the seeds outdoors in late September or early October. Depending on the variety, your cauliflower heads would be ready to harvest from December to February.
Planting Cauliflower Seedlings Outdoors
Whether you have grown seedlings on your own or have purchased them from a nursery, you can transplant them on a temperate day when the weather forecast doesn’t show extreme conditions for the coming week.
If you have grown your seedlings, make sure they are strong enough before you move them outside.
- Summer Planting
For a fall or summer crop, transplant your seedlings outdoors almost 6 to 8 weeks before the date of your zone’s first fall frost. To get the best results, wait until the daytime temperature starts to remain below 75 degrees F. Remember, cauliflower is a cool-temperature vegetable. You can use a shade to control the temperature when it is hot outside.
- Spring Planting
During spring, plant the seedlings outside 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date of your zone. You may need to protect your plants from cold and freezing weather using a row cover, halved plastic milk jugs, or any other thing.
Caring Your Cauliflower Plants
To grow healthy cauliflower plants, you need to be steady and consistent with the factors that help them grow. If a plant has to experience a sudden swing in any of the following factors, the plant may not develop completely.
Cauliflowers need consistently moist soil to thrive. If the water supply is irregular, it may lead to buttoning of the cauliflower head formation. You may need to provide about 2 inches of water every week; rainfall and supplemental water combined.
You can also slow watering technique using drip irrigation twice every week for established cauliflower plants. It may increase up to 3 times a week during warmer weather.
Mulch is another important factor for cauliflower plants. After you have planted the plants, apply a layer of 1 to 2 inches deep mulch on the soil around the base of the plant. It helps in maintaining consistent moisture levels for the plant and reducing soil temperature. As the cauliflower plants have shallow roots, it could have a huge impact. You can use compost as mulch.
Make a plan to protect your plant from temperature swings outdoors. If it is frost outside, use a frost cover or any other protection. If it is hot outside, keep the soil moist to control the temperature and use a cover if needed.
Blanching Your Cauliflower
If you are growing a white-head variety, you may need to cover the plant as it grows to ensure a bright white head. This is known as blanching. When your cauliflower head is around the size of an egg, pull the longest leave over the head. Secure the leaf there using an elastic band or twine. Colored varieties don’t need to be blanched.
Cauliflower seeds are small round tiny bodies. You can plant cauliflowers to get these seeds and store them for up to 4 years. Getting seeds from a cauliflower plant is not much difficult and anyone can easily get these seeds and grow them to produce new plants to enjoy healthy cauliflowers at home.