Growing cauliflower is a rewarding adventure in vegetable gardening. Cauliflower is a “biennial” crop – meaning that it is a flowering plant which takes two years to complete its life cycle. Cauliflower belongs to the family Brassicaceae, of the species Brassica oleracea, meaning it is a relative of broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, and kohlrabi!
Cauliflower is known as the most temperamental member of the mustard family, as it is quite intolerant to warm temperatures and any changes in moisture. Despite these warnings, cauliflower is a delicious crop that will provide abundantly as long as its needs are met.
The French King, Louis the XIV – well-known for his extravagant demands – required cauliflower to be served at every feast! Though we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind this piece of history, we do know that cauliflower grown today still provides a generous portion of our necessary daily nutrients. One cup of cauliflower is high in cancer-fighting antioxidants and fiber, which aids digestion, and has more vitamin C than an orange!
Start Growing Cauliflower
In the garden, a healthy cauliflower crop will produce a large, leafy, dark green plant. The leaves grow around the white flowers in the center of the plant. The florets remain bonded together in clumps called “curds” – until they “bolt”, or shoot to seed. It is common for this bonded clump of curds to grow to reach over two pounds. Globally, the majority of today’s cauliflower is grown in China and India; in the United States, California is the largest producer of cauliflower. Thankfully, with just a bit of practice and patience, you will be growing delicious cauliflower in your own backyard in no time.