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Cauliflower is not the easiest vegetable to grow, because it is very sensitive to temperature changes. However, with a little TLC, it can be a very rewarding vegetable for your garden. In Tasmania it is a little easier if you select the best varieties. The white varieties need to be blanched, by covering the head with its leaves (not as much an issue if maturing in winter – some hybrids naturally blanch). The purple varieties get their colour from anthocyanin, an antioxidant. Unfortunately, both the colour and the benefits disappear with cooking. Orange cauliflower is the result of a happy accident (a mutation). It gets its colour from a relatively high content of beta-carotene.
Cauliflower plants like cool (but not cold) weather and are best planted in late Spring (summer harvest) or in mid to late summer (for an autumn winter harvest). They have a moderately slow growth rate and are ready to harvest in two to three months from planting, depending on the variety.
Cauliflower needs a soil rich in organic matter, with a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil should be well-draining, but cauliflower needs consistent moisture, to prevent buttoning (growth of very small flower heads in place of a single large head). Cauliflower needs consistent moisture and plenty of it. Without sufficient water, the heads turn bitter. Leaving the soil dry in hot weather will cause the buds to open slightly, making the heads “ricey” rather than forming tight curds.
Cauliflower likes cool weather but is sensitive to hard frost. It begins to suffer in temperatures above 27 degrees C. Feed every two to four weeks with an organic fertilizer, such as kelp, fish emulsion or Seaweed extract.