Cauliflower is a really interesting vegetable and as many gardeners will admit, is tricky to grow. Edward C. Smith states in his book, “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible”:
I attempted growing cauliflower once or twice at our former lower location and was not successful. I thought it was too hot. After moving here I thought I would give it another try.
Here we certainly have some of the troublesome conditions listed in Smith’s quote: cool temperatures in the spring, occasional hot days in summer (although cool nights). I wanted to give it a try anyway. Our first year, 2017, I started cauliflower seedlings indoors under lights in early May. They were transplanted outdoors the end of May, perhaps too soon. The cauliflower did grow, and as you can see in the photo above, it was doing okay, but had a purple-ish tint. I tried all the tips and tricks I could find to do it right, including tying up the leaves around it to blanch the head and keep it from getting scraggly or bolting as long as possible. One of the heads was more or less okay, but one looked like the photo at the right. It was certainly edible and tasted very good, it just looked funny.
The following year I tried a “self-blanching” variety, which gave similar results: delicious but funny looking cauliflower. Some of the plants grew cauliflower heads, but at least one of the plants never formed a flower head at all.
I also tried some in the greenhouse, and it came out a bit better. Last year (2019) I did not plant cauliflower at all.
This year (2020) I grew SNOW CROWN F1, a hybrid that boasts 50-60 days to maturity and “one of the easiest to grow.” This variety did not disappoint. First it grew nicely in the greenhouse. I started it the end of January and harvested it May 1, 77 Days.
In the outdoor garden, several grew quite nicely–none of the scraggly purple ones as above. They suffered a bit of damage while small seedlings from the mice (two of them were beyond saving). Once I began protecting them from the mice with bottles, they did great. I just forgot to take photos outdoors. The last ones, planted mid-July did not make it before the fall freezing temps. One was only about 3″ across when harvested 10/23, and not worth eating. The photo shows the greenhouse cauliflower harvested in May.
CAULIFLOWER VARIETIES GROWN
Charming Snow || 60 Days || DTH: 52 days
Self-Blanching || 68 Days || DTH: 97 days (118 days in greenhouse in winter, Sept-Jan)
Snow Crown F1 || 50-60 Days || DTH: 77 Days, both Outdoors and in Greenhouse
*DTH = Days to Harvest, from date of transplant outdoors.