Plant cauliflower

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is probably one of the vegetables with the most different names. In addition to cauliflower, it is known as grape cabbage, cheese cabbage, cauliflower, flowering cabbage, minaret cabbage or Italian cabbage. This versatility is also reflected in the range of varieties on offer.

Advance cauliflower
Cauliflower in close-up

Cauliflower is one of the more demanding cabbages, but growing it is still worthwhile. Provided you take a few tips to heart, you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest and a versatile vegetable.

If you do it right, you can harvest cauliflower continuously from June to the first frost. For this you have to start very early with the preplanting of the cauliflower seedlings. For a first harvest in June, you should sow the cauliflower in January, at the latest in February. This can be done in a heated greenhouse or in an indoor greenhouse on a windowsill.

Colorful cauliflower varieties

The seeds are only covered with about two millimeters of soil and the soil should be kept moist throughout. As soon as the first leaves have formed, the plantlets are pricked out and continue to grow for a while at intervals of about five centimeters. It is best to plant the small cauliflower plants directly one by one in small pots or growing containers made of cellulose or other rotting material, then planting out later is easier. After about six weeks, the cauliflower plantlets are big enough to be planted outdoors.

The right location is important

Cauliflower requires a sunny to semi-shady location and a calcareous and nutrient-rich soil. In addition, the soil should be deep and loose. Larger stones or a superficial, shallow humus layer with compacted soil underneath does not suit cauliflower well.

Hard facts about cauliflower
Planting distance: 45 x 60 cm | Greenhouse sowing: from January | Greenhouse sowing: mid-March to April | Outdoor sowing: mid-April to mid-May | Harvest: June resp. July to mid-November | Soil: loose, lime-rich and humic | Cauliflower is a heavy grower | Good neighbors: bush beans, endives, peas, cucumbers, beet, celery, spinach | Bad neighbors: potatoes, cabbage, garlic, leek, rhubarb, chives, onions

Nutritional values of 100 grams of cauliflower:
25 calories | 1.9 g protein | 0.3 g fat | 5 g carbohydrates, of which 2 g fiber

Planting cauliflower outdoors

You should always grow plenty of plants in advance, so that when you plant them out you have a choice of which plants to use. Then only the strongest plantlets are planted out into the open ground. The bed should be sufficiently loosened beforehand and if necessary re-fertilized with compost. If there is a lack of lime, you can add a little more lime, the cauliflower likes it limey. You can find more about this topic on our pages about soil improvement.

Red cauliflower

In cooler areas and when in doubt about another frost, plant out under perforated film or fleece. The plants are planted out at intervals of about 50 centimeters. There are annual and biennial varieties. One-year-olds are used more often for obvious reasons: It's quicker and you don't have to worry about winterizing the plants.

Cauliflower is a heavy grower, so it should be re-fertilized several times, especially during the period of rapid growth. Stable manure or compost is well suited for this, but you can also help with artificial fertilizers. To increase the nitrogen content in the soil, the bed can also be mulched at planting time.

Cauliflower likes to stand in the sun, but it can be damaged during periods of very strong sunlight. It is advisable to shade the plants during this period. The easiest way to accomplish this is to break off a large leaf and place it on top of the cauliflower's head. In addition, sufficient watering must be done regularly unless there is enough precipitation. The soil should always be moist. Especially in summer, make sure that not only the surface is wet, but that the water also penetrates to the roots. Two weeks before harvest, stop fertilizing completely and water thoroughly several more times to ensure that the harvested cauliflower does not contain too much nitrite.

When is cauliflower ripe?


Cauliflower matures in about five months, which means you can harvest cauliflower as early as June if you sow early. Cauliflower can also be left in the bed longer and harvested later. You can harvest until the first frost. So if you plant enough, you will have fresh cauliflower for half a year.

Cauliflower varieties

The best known cauliflower in this country is the classic white variety, but there are many different varieties of cauliflower. For example, there is the Romanesco in green, yellow-green cauliflower, yellow-orange cauliflower, but also spectacular hits of color in purple or red. The coloration of these varieties is caused by anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are colorants commonly found in the plant world. They also appear, for example, in red wine, red cabbage or green asparagus. Anthocyanins act as antioxidants in the human body and are thus said to prevent certain diseases, such as cancer.

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