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Cauliflower is a cool-season crop that belongs to the cabbage family. The vegetable is a very finicky plant that is best started from transplants rather than seed. Select only those seedlings that appear young, strong and vigorous, as old and weak transplants will likely fail. Popular varieties include Self-Blanche, Snow King and Snowball.
Cauliflower needs to be planted early enough so that it matures before the heat of the summer but not so early that it is injured by the cold. Typically, this is a couple weeks before the last spring frost. Dig holes 2' apart and to the same depth the seedlings are growing in their container. Carefully move the plants from their containers to the holes, trying not to disturb the roots. Gently pack soil around the seedlings. Water the plants with a solution of four tablespoons 5-10-10 fertilizer to two gallons of water.
Cauliflower needs to be watered evenly throughout the growing period. Make sure the plants receive 1" of water per week, preferably in the morning and at the roots. Once the plants have established a strong root system, spread one tablespoon of 10-10-10 fertilizer around each plant. The most common pest is the cabbage looper, larvae that chew holes into the leaves. Either pick the pests by hand and destroy or apply an approved insecticide.
Cauliflower heads do not like direct sunlight. To keep the heads snowy white, they must be protected from full sun. When the heads are slightly smaller than a door knob, wrap the two innermost leaves over the heads and secure with twine.
It will usually be about a week to 10 days between blanching and head maturity. The heads should be harvested when they reach 8" across. Cut the cauliflower in the morning while the heads still have some dew on them. Using a sharp knife, remove the heads by cutting the stem just below the head. The cauliflower leaves can be prepared and eaten just like cabbage.
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