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Cauliflower information


Cauliflower is a vegetable which can be produced abundantly from April until early December in the maritime Northwest. Rich, humusy soil is essential, as cauliflowers tend to have weak root systems. Heavy soils must be especially well amended with organic matter. With cauliflower only continuous rapid growth will produce high quality heads, so ideal soil conditions should be created and fertilizer used. One-quarter to 1/2 cup of complete organic fertilizer worked into the soil immediately below the plant will produce good results if the soil is light enough to permit good root development. A high soil pH of 6.5 - 7.5 is also important for best development.


Start transplants of the early types from March through June, or direct seed them if desired from mid-April through June. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep in clumps of 4 or so seeds, 24 inches apart, and 30 inches between rows. Thin gradually to the best single plant. Start late types by direct seeding (or start transplants) during June. Start overwintering cauliflower during early July to early August, but do not fertilize Walcherin types heavily until spring regrowth begins, when they should be fertilized periodically so as to make a large plant by April. In spring, one teaspoonful of bloodmeal every 3 weeks sprinkled about the base of the plant will induce maximum growth.


Similar to cabbage, dealing with the root maggot during May/June can be discouraging.

If plants will not establish by direct seeding despite following the above cultural directions, or if transplants become stunted and don't grow even if well-fertilized, the cause may be symphylans, which eat sprouting cole seeds before they emerge and chew off root hairs on cabbage family plants. The high ammonia content of fresh chicken manure may be the best "organic" symphylan control measure, especially for coles.


The common disease problems of cauliflower are similar to cabbage. Many disease and insect problems can be reduced if cole crops can be grown in a 4 - 5 year rotation with non-cruciferous crops.


All varieties tend to self-wrap the flower; even so, to obtain completely white heads, especially from spring-sown varieties, tie the inner leaves around the curd when it starts to form, or break over some inside leaves so they lie flat on the flower and provide shade for it.


When mature, the flowerettes are just beginning to separate and get slightly ricey. At this point the flavor is still at peak quality and the size is maximum.

Cauliflower Types

Early Cauliflower

Early cauliflower varieties are based on two different breeding lines. The first is the alpha cauliflower varieties that were developed in Europe for early growth. The alpha varieties do well in cool weather. The other source for early maturity are the tropical genetics. These are used in the warmer production area and are generally considered more tolerant of hot weather. Snow Peak and Snow Crown are bred from tropical genetics.

Snow Crown
50 - 60 days from planting to harvest. Though it may show some pinking when maturing in the hotter parts of Summer, Snow Crown's hybrid vigor and rapid growth produce large, fully-domed curds with a mild and sweet flavor. May be one of the easiest of all early cauliflower varieties to grow.
Snow peak
50 days from planting to harvest. Snow Peak's dense white curds have a crisp, mild taste that keeps you coming back for more. Superior uniformity. Performs best when planted in the Spring for an early Summer harvest.
Autumn Cauliflower

These varieties are bred to mature during the cooler period at Summer's end and Autumn. If sown too early, curd formation may suffer from high heat . Use F1 types for May sowings. The autumn varieties below form a succession of maturity. Heavy frosts occurring during curd formation can cause browning, so the later varieties are bred to wrap and protect the head as much as possible.

65 - 85 days from planting to harvest. "First class" describes its appearance and eating quality. These heavy, snow white heads are easily grown. Ravella has excellent vigor and will withstand stress. It wraps its head almost perfectly under good growing conditions, and performs especially well during cool weather. Suitable to all sowing dates from March through June. The price is tremendous, but so are the results.
80 - 100 days from planting to harvest. This unique green-headed cauliflower is the most uniform and productive of its type. The medium-sized plants produce a wonderful bright lime-green curd, especially when planted to mature in cool weather. If the head is left unwrapped, the sunlight will intensify the green coloration. Pick before the head loosens up for the best eating quality.
75 - 85 days from planting to harvest. Fremont is the number one choice of commercial growers in Northern areas. Bred in Europe for exceptional dense, white curds and consistent uniform quality. The 2 - 2-1/2 pound heads have performed excellently in both Summer and Fall harvest periods. Fremont is the dependable leader for both home and market gardeners.
White Rock
80 - 100 days from planting to harvest. A very popular, smaller headed variety, White Rock has extremely well-wrapped curds, offering good frost and rain protection for later harvests.
120 - 140 days from planting to harvest. Arbon produces heavy yields of large, tender, sweet curds late October or November from a June sowing. The well-wrapped snow-white heads are protected from the harsh effects of frost and heavy rains. Please note: this variety is too late for growing anywhere but the maritime Northwest.
Overwintering Cauliflower

These are the easiest class of cauliflowers to grow. Overwintering types are bred to form very well-wrapped heads that are protected from the cold and are unsurpassed in uniformity. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of these specimens is the fact that they are bred to mature at specific spring dates. These varieties should be sown between July 1st and August 1st. If transplanting, it is best done by the end of the first week in September. Small or no heads are usually the result of planting too late or low soil fertility. Non-headed plants will grow into monstrous plants that will usually form exhibition size heads the following spring.

Purple Cape
200 days from planting to harvest. This sweet-tasting, bright purple variety is the first and most colorful cauliflower to greet you after the January and February freezes thaw. The first heads are ready late February.
265 days from planting to harvest. Outstanding in the field of Winter cauliflower! A new European selection with wonderful, fine textured, crystal white heads weighing 2 - 3 pounds. Extremely uniform with tight, high wrapping leaves that will protect the heads from the harshest of Northwest Winters. So mild and sweet-flavored the kids can't resist munching. Stores well in the fridge too.
Walcherin Cauliflower Series
The Walcherin types of cauliflowers are a Dutch breeding masterpiece. Most of the early varieties of cauliflower are based on tropical genetics to withstand Summer heat. The Walcherin varieties, however, are based on Northern European breeding and were the first varieties specifically developed for overwintering. Walcherin selections have the ability to withstand cold temperatures and show little damage down to 10 degrees. These varieties have the ability to tightly wrap their own heads with leaves to protect them from freezing temperatures. In England and Holland these varieties are extensively grown commercially and have been bred to produce a highly concentrated harvest. At one sowing date, the farmer plants his field into blocks of several varieties and then harvests the blocks completely as they mature.

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