When to harvest cauliflower?

Contents

When to Pick Cauliflower

Cool Season Vegetables

Cool season vegetables like cauliflower and its relatives in the Brassicaceae family grow during the spring and fall months of the year. This means that your harvest periods will be in early summer, and then again in late fall or early winter. Cauliflower can take a frost, but it will not withstand too hot a day.

Spring Plantings

Spring plantings will be harvested in early summer. Depending on the variety, cauliflower may take between 50-100 days to mature. If you live in a warmer climate with shorter cool seasons, consider planting an earlier maturing cauliflower. Some Early maturing varieties include:

  • Snow Crown (50 Days)
  • Mardi (62 Days)
  • Cheddar (58 Days)

Fall Plantings

Fall plantings will mature in late fall or early winter. If you plant in late August, you may be harvesting around October or November. Because the weather is cooling down, early maturing varieties aren’t as desirable for fall plantings.

Instead, you want to select varieties with cold and bolt resistance. Inspect seed packets for information on which season each variety is suited for. Some favorites for fall plantings include:

  • Skywalker (80 days)
  • Amazing (68 days)
  • Denali (73 days)

Inspecting the Head

Despite the expected days to maturity, nature will vary. It’s important to be able to inspect your cauliflower heads and decide when they are ripe for the picking. Cauliflower is actually a giant flower bud or cluster of flower buds. The trick is to let it reach its maximum size and crispness but not to let it flower, or even think about flowering.

Typically a fully mature cauliflower head measures about 6-8 inches in diameter. This will vary with variety so read the seed packet for specifics. Inspect the florets each day for separation or a sign of opening. They should be compact and tightly closed. If they begin to separate, quickly cut that head. Separation is a sign that they are overly mature and going to flower.

Inspect the head for color variations. A fully mature head should have it’s full color whether that be white, orange, or purple. Hints of green indicate that it is still immature, and hits of brown indicate that it is overmature.

Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis

Cauliflower, Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis, is a vegetable in the Brassicaceae family that includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, and kohlrabi.

You may have heard that it’s difficult to grow, but that’s only because it has specific requirements that need to be met in order to produce robust and delicious flower heads. Read on to learn what they are!

Colorful and Nutritious

Cauliflower is a cool-weather crop often referred to as a “brassica” or “cole crop.” It has edible leaves, stems, and dense flower heads that are a substantial source of B, C, and K vitamins and fiber.

The flower heads are made up of many tiny buds, or “curds” that are eaten before they bloom. A cross-like, four-petaled blossom inside each bud further classifies cauliflower as a “cruciferous” vegetable.

Folks have been growing white flower head varieties for generations, but today we also have vibrant green, orange, and purple cultivars. Purple curds contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, and orange, or “cheddar,” as they are commonly known, are rich in beta carotene, an excellent source of vitamin A.

Let’s find out how to plant for success!

Growing a Winner

Growing cauliflower reminds me of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and their bowls of porridge. This veggie doesn’t like air that’s too hot or too cold, preferring instead temperatures that are consistently “just right.”

If you’re in a zone where you have two to three months of temps that average in the 60s, you’re in prime cauliflower-growing territory. The rest of us must work a bit harder.

A Cool Annual

Cauliflower is a half-hardy biennial that is usually grown as an annual in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to 11.

How confusing is that?

Half-hardy means it’s able to withstand some frost. The leaves may “burn,” but a maturing flower head may continue to grow. However, if a cold spell comes suddenly, the temperature fluctuation may cause a plant to bolt, finishing its life cycle prematurely, and likely producing an inedible crop. And a biennial is a plant that takes two seasons to mature. However, if cauliflower gets the cool weather it craves, and produces a flower head in one season, it’s an annual.

The number of days to maturity varies from approximately 50 to 100, so pay close attention to seed packets when making your selections. Choose a length of time that suits your average weather.

In warm climates, plant in the fall for an early spring crop. In colder zones, you have the option of planting indoors in early spring, or outdoors in late summer, to avoid peak heat and cold.

Flower heads may “button” during a heatwave.

Here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, we sometimes have crazy days in April when temperatures suddenly soar to 90 ° F. This may cause plants to” button,” producing multiple tiny heads, or “bolt,” forming curds that spread and go to seed. It’s much better to plant in late summer for a fall crop in locations like mine.

Sowing Seeds

For an early summer harvest, Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening recommends starting seeds indoors in peat pots about four to six weeks before the last expected frost date.

This cauliflower has fully-formed cotyledons, or seed leaves, with visible first true leaves.

Sow seeds 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep in peat pots. This way, you can plant entire pots instead of plucked seedlings, and avoid root damage. Be sure to use sanitary tools and supplies to avoid exposing your germinating seeds to disease.

Place the pots on a 70° F warming tray and set it near the sunniest window in your home. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

And as we’ve said, in cool climates, you may also sow seeds in late summer for a fall harvest. Place them directly in the ground two to three months before the average first frost date.

Transplanting Outdoors

When the seedlings have sprouted not only cotyledons, or “seed” leaves, but several sets of true leaves, begin to “harden them off.” This simply means setting the pots outside for a few hours each day, increasing to all day, before transplanting them into the garden.

Choose a planting location with full sun to partial shade. Full sun is recommended by many seed packets however, a partially shaded placement offers protection in the event of a sudden spike in temperature.

You may want to have a soil sample tested to determine its acidity and nutrient content. Soil with a nearly neutral to slightly acidic pH is best. Transplant during a cool time of the day, morning or evening.

Preparing the Soil

Cauliflower does best in good soil that drains well. Per the results of your test, you may work amendments such as organically-rich compost, bone meal, or lime into it as recommended by the testing laboratory.

Work your soil to a depth of at least six inches. Plant entire peat pots at least 24 inches apart. Some seed packets recommend closer plantings, but this doesn’t allow for maximum air circulation. Mature plants generally reach a height and girth of about two feet, and overcrowding increases vulnerability to pests and disease.

Fertilizing

Theories differ on fertilizer. Carla Emery, in her comprehensive Encyclopedia of Country Living, warns against commercial fertilizers that may burn cauliflower’s tender roots. Her instructive book is available from Amazon.

The folks at the Missouri Botanical Garden recommend high-nitrogen varieties.

And the pros at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Nebraska Extension recommend using phosphorus-rich 33-0-0 starter fertilizer at transplant time, with a side-dressing three weeks later.

I like a slow-release all-purpose granular type like Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food, a balanced nutrient supplement that promises not to burn roots if used as directed. It’s available from Amazon in 4.5- and 8-pound containers. Apply it at transplant time, and it works throughout the growing season.

Miracle-Gro 3001910 Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food

If you choose to fertilize and don’t use a slow-release product, apply it at transplant, and then as a side dressing per package instructions during the growing season. Side dressing is simply applying it around the perimeter of plants, just outside the edge of the largest leaves, to avoid direct contact with foliage.

Watering

Cauliflower requires even moisture, so don’t let it dry out. To increase moisture retention, make a narrow moat around each plant by mounding soil up in a ridge around it. Mix some mulch into this soil ridge to further aid in moisture retention, protect delicate roots, keep the ground cool, and inhibit weed growth. The less you weed, the better, as the roots are shallow and fragile.

Water deeply once a week with a gentle spray nozzle aimed at the soil over the roots. Do this in the morning or evening, when temperatures are at their coolest. Watering by hand plus rainfall should amount to between one and two inches per week.

Temperature Management

In early spring, most of your garden is likely to be in full sun, however, as the season comes into full bloom, trees begin to leaf out and cast some shade.

Consider this as you choose a planting site. If partial shade is unavailable, be prepared with a supply of lightweight floating row covers that you can quickly set up if the sun’s rays become intense. Place them as high as possible and leave the ends of the rows open to ensure adequate air circulation.

For fall crops, the converse is true. Cold snaps are not uncommon, so keep row covers of a heavier material on hand. Place them a little lower and close off the ends, to create a snug environment. Be sure to open the ends or remove them entirely when temps rise.

In addition to providing some temperature control, row covers help deter unwanted pests.

Pests and Disease

As with all cabbage relatives, cauliflower is prone to pests and disease, posing another challenge to successful growing.

If you notice discoloration, wilting, or holes in the leaves; damage to stems or roots; insect infestation or eggs, take immediate action. Some pests may reduce leaves to skeletons before burrowing into flower heads, while others attack at the root level. And pests are a primary source of the spread of disease.

Here are some pests you may encounter:

Aphid

The aphid is a tiny, sap-sucking insect that eats through leaves and flower heads.

It spreads plant diseases and leave a trail of honeydew that promotes the growth of a fungus called sooty mildew. If you see eggs on the undersides of leaves, and tell-tale clumps of stacked up aphids, try to rinse them away with a steady and stream of water.

If this prove ineffective, use a product such as neem oil, a natural insecticide and fungicide. It’s available from Amazon in a variety of sizes.

Organic Neem Bliss 100% Pure Cold Pressed Neem Seed Oil

For further reading on organic methods to deter this insect pest, consult our article on aphids.

Cabbage Looper

The cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni, is a leafeater that can chew a crop down to nothing in no time.

Per the pros in the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management System, this green caterpillar is unmistakable, with its distinctive inch-worm-like gait, green body, and white stripe. Adults are brown moths with a distinguishing silver figure eight, and eggs laid on the undersides of leaves are domed and ridged.

Cabbage loopers do their worst damage to mature plants, tearing through leaves and right into the flower heads. A treatment with organic Bacillus thuringiensis is recommended. It won’t hurt beneficial insects like the tachinid fly, that feeds on several caterpillar pests.

Thuricide by Bonide is available from Amazon in concentrated liquid form in 8-ounce bottles.

Bonide Chemical 802 Bacillus Thuricide Liquid

Or, you may try a home remedy by Sharon Lovejoy, horticulturist and author of Trowel & Error (see it on Amazon), a collection of gardening tips. She recommends dousing plants with white flour (not self-rising) early in the morning. Dew plus flour equals petrified bugs that may be rinsed off the following day.

Cabbage Moth

Per the experts at the Michigan State University’s MSU Extension, the cabbage moth, aka Diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, is one of the most destructive insects when it comes to brassica crops.

Easily recognized by the white diamond visible on its folded brown wings, the larva and adult of this species are voracious feeders that decimate entire plants. If you notice the moth, look for eggs on the undersides of leaves.

This is a difficult insect to deal with, as it has developed resistance to some pesticides. Natural predators include the parasitic wasp, a beneficial insect. Try neem oil or Bacillus thuringiensis, but you may find them ineffective.

You may also try a practice called “trap cropping,” as recommended by the University of Connecticut Pest Management Program Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Department of Extension. This practice involves planting a barrier of another plant the pest likes around your brassica. In this case, collard greens are recommended.

The idea is that the cabbage moths will chew the collards to bits before attacking your cauliflower. Best case scenario – you enjoy both crops at harvest time.

Cabbage Root Fly

If you see an inordinate number of flies around your crops, apply diatomaceous earth to the soil over the roots to discourage egg laying. And if your plants are showing signs of distress, dig down, examine the roots, and discard infested plants.

Live Beneficial Nematodes

Alternatively, you may try an application of nematodes, microscopic worms that attack soil-borne pests. Bug Sales Live Beneficial Nematodes are available from Amazon in packages containing from 5 to 250 million.

There’s something else you may want to try – a cabbage collar. This is a circle of felt, cardboard, or a similar material that goes around a plant at the soil level to prevent flies from laying eggs near the roots. Find it in garden centers or make your own.

Cabbage White Caterpillar

The cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, lays eggs that become voracious larvae.

Also called cabbage worms or imported cabbage worms, these caterpillars devour leaves and bore into flower heads, ruining entire crops.

Bacillus thuringiensis or pyrethrum are the treatments of choice for this pest.

PyGanic Gardening 8oz, Botanical Insecticide Pyrethrin Concentrate for Organic Gardening

PyGanic Gardening’s Botanical Insecticide Pyrethrin Concentrate for Organic Gardening is available from Amazon in 8-ounce bottles.

Read more about defeating the cabbage worm here.

Cabbage Whitefly

Another pest you may see is the cabbage whitefly, Aleyrodes proletella. This tiny white fly and its young scaly nymphs infest the undersides of leaves, feeding on leaf sap, excreting “honeydew” that promotes sooty mildew growth.

But while this type of whitefly disfigures a plant’s leaves, it doesn’t damage the flower heads, so many growers simply put up with it.

The Royal Horticultural Society is of the opinion that unless an infestation is severe, it probably doesn’t need to be addressed with pesticides. However, if you go that route, know that treating the undersides of leaves is a temporary fix, and product instructions must be followed diligently with reference to the right one for the right crop, as well as safe harvest intervals.

Cross-Striped Cabbageworm

Per the pros at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, the cross-striped cabbage worm, Evergestis rimosalis, is easily distinguished from other brassica pests in the egg stage because it is the only species to lay eggs in clusters.

This caterpillar is blue-gray with black stripes on top, and solid green underneath. It feeds on leaves and works its way into flower heads, before maturing to the brown moth you may notice fluttering around your plants.

Flea Beetle

The crucifer flea beetle, Phyllotreta cruciferae, and the striped flea beetle, Phyllotreta striolata, chew holes in the leaves of brassicas that don’t pierce all the way through the leaves.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension says you can recognize them by their extra-large hind leg that enables them to jump like a flea. Pyrethroid foliar sprays are the recommended chemical treatment. There is no organic product for flea beetles, so the Extension recommends row covers, or planting around the life cycle of the beetles, avoiding their peak feeding time (that’s May to June in Virginia).

You may also try a practice called “trap cropping,” as recommended by the University of Connecticut Pest Management Program Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Department of Extension and mentioned above. It involves the planting of mustard, a favorite of flea beetles, as a first line of defense.

Read more about defeating fleas beetles here.

In addition to pests, there are diseases to which brassicas are prone, including:

Blackleg

Blackleg, Leptosphaeria maculans, is a fungus that causes erosion of leaves, stem blackening, and root rotting. It may affect plants as young as seedling stage. The best ways to avoid blackleg are with quality, disease-free seed, good drainage and air circulation, and regular crop rotation.

Organic Laboratories 810-021 Lab QT Organocide Plant Doctor Systemic Fungicde

You may try an application of a fungicide like concentrated Organocide Plant Doctor Systemic Fungicde, which is available from Amazon in 1-pint and 1-quart containers.

Clubroot

Clubroot, Plasmodiophora brassicae, is a fungal disease that likes acidic, moist soil. It causes roots to fill with mold spores that deform them into ineffective, club-like appendages. If you find your plants failing and dig down to find smelly, slippery, deformed roots, remove entire plants and discard them in the trash. And as this is a pathogen that lives in soil, don’t plant brassicas in the same location next year.

Be sure your soil is not overly acidic, and that it drains well. A fungicide such as mentioned above may be worth a try before declaring a total loss.

Damping Off

Brassica seedlings may fall victim to various soil-borne fungi like Pythium and Phytophthora that feed on roots and stems. Everything may be fine one day, and the next, your new shoots keel over and die a slimy death.

The best ways to avoid damping off are by using clean containers with good drainage and providing good air circulation between plants. You may even find seeds that are pre-treated with fungicide. Otherwise, once the damage is done, no treatment will help.

Read more about ways to prevent damping off here.

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew, Peronospora parasitica, is a fungus with the ability to destroy crops. Per the folks in the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management System, the telltale signs to watch for are yellow patches that turn brown, and fluffy white on the undersides of leaves. Infected seedlings may not survive damage to their cotyledons (first leaves), and disease progression leads to stem and flower head damage.

If your plants show signs of trouble, try a product like Safer Gro Mildew Cure. This is an organic fungicide that is available from Amazon in 16-ounce bottles of concentrated liquid.

There are quite a few pests and diseases lurking in the garden, but you’re not alone out there. Beneficial insects and hungry birds are your best friends when it comes to devouring pests and preventing the transfer of disease from plant to plant.

Inspect your brassicas regularly for signs of trouble. Consider using row covers as a preventative measure, and discard severely infested plants by throwing them away, not composting them.

Sanitize tools after use when dealing with infestations, and rotate crops to new locations every year, because pests winter over and stand ready to attack the next crop that comes along.

Blanching

As your brassica crops grow, the leaves will become voluminous, and in the center of each plant, you’ll see a flower head beginning to form.

When it’s a few inches across, it may be time to “blanch.” This is a simple task that involves binding the leaves up and over the developing head to keep the color pristine and the flavor at its peak.

Some cultivars are self-blanching, with leaves that curl naturally up and over the flower heads. Others must be manipulated manually.

To blanch cauliflower, simply gather the leaves in your hands as if you were making a bouquet and bind them together above the flower head. Use rubber bands or twine and be sure to leave room for air circulation. The idea isn’t to snug them up, but to shade them.

Peek in and check on them every couple of days. It may be another week or more before heads reach the diameter specified on seed packets, at which time you may unbind the leaves and prepare to harvest.

Harvesting

Use seed packet information as your guide to the approximate number of days to maturity, and head size. When these benchmarks have been reached, and you have large a large head of dense, closed buds, it’s time to harvest.

Orange cauliflower, like sweet potatoes and carrots, is high in beta carotene.

Make a clean cut across the stem a few inches below the head.

Some folks like to leave a good length of stem and some leaves attached, as they are good to eat. Others leave most of the stem and all the leaves behind with the hope that side shoots may sprout. While this is likely with broccoli, cauliflower is usually a one-and-done plant.

Be sure to visit our sister site, Foodal, for tasty and delicious cauliflower recipes like Easy Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Lime and Cauliflower and Chard Fritters with Spicy Yogurt Cilantro Sauce.

Meeting the Challenges

In addition to growing in the garden, cauliflower’s shallow roots make it a good container crop. Just remember that it must have consistently moist soil, and this poses an additional challenge, as a container dries out faster than ground soil.

When you select cauliflower seeds, gauge the length of time your climate stays “just right” for plants to mature. And while it may be tempting to choose one of today’s fast-maturing cultivars for spring planting and a summer harvest, some folks swear that a fall crop of a tried and true slow-growing variety is the only way to go when it comes to the best temperatures and outstanding flavor.

Protect your crops from the start with quality seed and sanitary practices. Sow in soil that’s not too acidic, ensure adequate drainage and air circulation, and consider using row covers for an added layer of protection from pests and disease.

Make room for a few cauliflower plants in the vegetable garden this year. You know how to meet the challenges and are ready for success.

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About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

Cauliflower

A Cauliflower head is made up of small, tightly compact white florets on thick stems. The entire plant is edible, including the leaves.


The entire cauliflower plant is edible.

Cauliflower needs two cool months to mature and is planted as a spring or fall crop in most areas. Plant for a winter crop if your winters are mild. For a spring crop, plant transplants four to six weeks before the average date of last frost. Start your own transplants from seed indoors about six weeks before garden planting. Plant leggy and crooked transplants deeply in the garden to prevent them from being top-heavy. Unless the buds are supposed to be green or purple, the color should be untinged creamy-white. To protect the head from discoloring, blanch the head when it gets to the size of an egg by gathering three or four leaves and tying them together to cover the head. Self-blanching cauliflower doesn’t need to be covered, but it will not blanch in hot weather.
Harvesting Cauliflower
Time from planting transplants to harvest is 55 to 100 days. The mature head should be compact and about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cut the whole head from the main stem.
Types of Cauliflower:
There are several types of cauliflower to choose from when planning your home vegetable garden. We’ve listed the different varieties of cauliflower below.

  • Snow Crown Hybrid, harvest at 52 days, has pure white, 8-inch-diameter heads.
  • Super Snowball is ready to harvest in 55 days.
  • Violet Queen, harvest at 55 days, has royal purple heads.
  • Cheddar, harvest at 68 days, has creamy orange heads.
  • Cassius, harvest at 65 days, is arguably one of the best, with domed heads to 8 inches.

Knowing how to select cauliflower is the key to enjoying this delicious vegetable. Learn how to select and prepare cauliflower in the next section.

Want more information about cauliflower? Try:

  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature cauliflower.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.

When Are Marijuana Buds Ready to Harvest?

by Nebula Haze

Table of Contents

Intro: When to Harvest Cannabis (for the highest potency)

1st Harvest Method: Look at Buds

2nd Harvest Method: Look at Buds Under a Magnifier (Trichome Method)

Summary: Tips & Hints

This harvest tutorial is part of our “how to harvest cannabis” series:

Flushing > Harvest > Trimming > Drying & Curing​

Intro: When to Harvest Cannabis (for highest potency)

When should we harvest the buds from a cannabis plant? That is the eternal question… I’m sure the answer we’re all thinking is “Not soon enough!”

(How far are your plants in the flowering stage? Check out the flowering stage timeline!)

Unfortunately for us impatient growers, harvesting at the right time is just as important as how you grow the plant. Harvest too soon and you lose potency and cannabis yields; too late and you can end up making a batch of sleep medicine.

You only need 3 things to determine the best marijuana harvest time:

  1. The knowledge of when to harvest – You get that today!
  2. Eyes for visual inspection – You’ve probably had these for a while!
  3. A magnifying tool – Makes the glittery, resin-filled trichomes on your buds easier to see; although not 100% necessary, this lets you time your harvest perfectly to get the exact effects you’re looking for

When it comes to magnifying tools for growing, there are a few options:

  • Jeweler’s Loupe – This is the cheapest and most low tech way to get the job done. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to get the best insight into how your buds are doing unless you have really great eyes, though the one I linked to is the best that I’ve tried. Will definitely get the job done in a pinch!
  • Digital Microscope – A digital microscope is one of the best tools to determine the right harvest time. A digital microscope costs a bit more than a loupe and many models need a connecting laptop, but they will get you face-to-face with your trichomes and allow you to take video to re-examine afterward or get a second opinion. You’ll be almost uncomfortably close to your trichomes!

There are two main techniques growers use to identify the right time to harvest marijuana plants.

Note: We recommend that you flush your cannabis plants in the last week or two leading up to harvest time if growing in soil or coco, and for at least a few days in hydro. Click the following link to get more info on flushing before harvest: https://www.growweedeasy.com/flushing

First, we’ll show you how to identify harvest time by checking the pistils (the ‘hairs’ on your buds). The pistil method isn’t nearly as accurate as checking the trichomes (the ‘glitter’ on your buds), but it’s definitely a good place to start since you can just look at the buds and get a general idea.

The following marijuana harvest pictures will guide you, so you know when to harvest your marijuana buds using ‘The Pistil Method’.

See More Pictures of Buds That Are Ready to Harvest!

1st Method to Identify Harvest Time:
Pistil Method

Not Ready for Harvest Pictures

The vast majority of pistils (hairs) are still white and sticking out straight.
This is definitely too early to harvest, and these plants have many weeks to go!

Still Not Ready for Harvest Pictures

We’re waiting for at least half of the white hairs to darken and curl in. Some of the pistils are starting to turn color, but there are far less than 50% curled/darkened pistils. These buds still have several weeks to go before they’ll reach their highest levels of THC. The good news is your buds will get bigger and more dense in that time!

Does it feel like you’ve been waiting forever? Learn what causes marijuana to take a long time before being ready to harvest.

Ready for Harvest Pictures

Harvest when 60-70% of hairs have darkened for highest levels of THC.
Harvest when 70-90% of hairs have darkened for a more calming,
anti-anxiety effect as some THC turns to the more relaxing CBN.

With some strains, you may see a bunch of new pistils appear right when you think you’re getting close. This is normal, but it happens more than 3 times you’ve eventually got to just make the decision and chop. Learn how to speed up the time to harvest. You may also be interested in what’s causing buds to take forever to mature?

See More Pictures of Ready-to-Harvest Buds!

With some strains, it is much harder to tell when the time is right. Different strains can look different ways at harvest. For example, some strains can keep most of their pistils white even when they’re ready to be harvested.

You can get some good information by talking to someone who has grown your strain before, such as the breeder. The breeder or growers who’ve grown your strain before can often provide extra insight into what to look for at harvest. You can also search online for pictures of what your strain should look like when it’s fully ripened.

Next, we’re going to go over the 2nd (and MUCH more accurate) method of checking your cannabis plants to see if they’re harvest-ready…

2nd Method to Identify Harvest Time: Trichome Method

(how to harvest cannabis using the accurate method)

This harvest method tends to be more precise than looking at the pistils of your cannabis plant.

Look at trichomes under a magnifier to harvest cannabis buds with the right THC levels

With this method, you look at the glandular stalked trichomes on the buds under a magnifying glass. Trichomes are the the mushroom-looking growths on cannabis that are responsible for it being so popular!

In some places these trichomes are called resin glands. These trichromes are the ‘crystals’, or ‘frosty stuff’ you see accumulating on your bud/leaves. They’re also what makes weed so sticky.

The trichomes you’re trying to see look like little mushrooms. You may also see tiny, clear hair-like trichomes without the mushroom head but these don’t affect potency so you can ignore them. You are interested in the trichomes that have a little ball on top. This is where a lot of the THC and other good stuff in cannabis is located. Since these trichomes are what contribute the most to bud potency, being able to tell when they’ve reached their highest levels of THC will help you be able to choose the exact right time to harvest your marijuana.

Cannabis trichomes are difficult to see with the naked eye, so you’ll need a jeweler’s loupe or other way to magnify the image in order to use the “trichome method” for determining harvest time. Conversely, some cameras can take ‘macro’ shots that are clear enough to see what stage the trichomes are in but they can be pricey…

Jeweler’s loupes are relatively cheap to buy online, or at a hardware or jewelry store.

If you put the loupe right up to your buds, you’ll get a better view of the trichomes, letting you better determine their color and shape.

Click the picture to the left for a close-up to see what that looks like.

Although a jeweler’s loupe can make trichomes appear bigger, sometimes it’s not big enough. I know I end up squinting a lot when I’m trying to use one, but they are a heck of a lot better than nothing!

Get a Jeweler’s Loupe on Amazon.com
Although it’s cheap, this is one of the best rated jeweler’s loupes in the under $20 price range. However, please note that although it says you get 40x magnification, you don’t get nearly as much as that. However, I’ve found that with just about every jeweler’s loupe; they advertise more magnification than what you get. That being said, for a lot of growers this will get the job done!

A digital microscope typically takes video and produce bigger and more clear pictures of trichomes than a jeweler’s loupe or other small magnifiers. Not only can you see the trichomes better, but you can record video of them to look over after the fact. These are still pretty cheap, costing about $50, and they will give you better results than most other methods for determining harvest.

This is an example of a digital microscope that will let you more closely see the trichomes. You will need to hook it up to a laptop or computer for it to work. It’s nice to be able to see the trichomes on a screen and take pictures or video to examine afterwards. It can be difficult to really evaluate the trichomes when you’re thinking about getting everything in focus.

Example of a digital microscope

Here’s a guide breaking down when to harvest marijuana buds based on color of trichomes.
(note: the trichomes of some strains turn purple or pink instead of amber/gold/yellow)

Clear trichomes look kind of like glass

Cloudy trichomes look more like plastic to me

I still can’t tell the difference between clear and cloudy trichomes!!!

It can be hard to tell the difference between clear and cloudy trichomes, especially if you don’t see both types of trichomes at the same time! This is completely normal, and it takes a little experience before this part becomes totally easy.

However, when in doubt, consult with the pictures of buds above. If you combine both methods you’ll get the best results! Although looking at your buds isn’t the most precise way to know when to harvest, it does give you a really good idea. Try to take everything together. If your buds just have white pistils sticking out, you know for sure that it’s no where close to ready, so you also know that the trichomes on the buds aren’t all cloudy yet. It’s only when your buds are getting close to looking harvest-ready that trichomes are going to have something to tell you!

The trichomes in this picture are still mostly clear, but that may be difficult to know immediately if you haven’t really looked at trichomes before! However, I don’t even really need to look at the trichomes in this picture to know these buds aren’t ready yet. There are other signs it’s not ready. I can clearly see several white pistils sticking straight out in the photo. The only two pistils that have darkened haven’t even curled in yet.

Trichomes are mostly clear so this bud is not ready for harvest

But even without looking the trichomes, the the fact that nearly all the pistils are sticking straight out has already shown that this bud isn’t ready. If most pistils aren’t curling in, it means you still have several weeks to go! Here’s that bud from further away – it’s far from ready!

When you’re not sure, try to use a combination of looking at the buds and looking at the trichomes!

Many of the cannabinoids we enjoy most are produced within these glandular stalked trichomes. This includes THC, CBD, and CBN amongst others.

Learn everything you could possibly want to know about cannabinoid levels in your marijuana, and what you need to do as a grower to control the potency of the buds you grow.

Summary: Tips & Hints

Here are some general rules about harvesting marijuana based on trichomes and the color of the hairs / pistils. If you follow these rules, you’ll know how to harvest weed perfectly every time!

  1. If white “hairs” are almost all sticking straight out and trichomes are all still translucent (clear) then your plant is too young and not ready for harvest. Harvesting now will result in low yield and non-potent harvests.
  2. The beginning of the harvest window opens when your plant has mostly stopped growing new white “hairs” or pistils and at least 40% of the white hairs have darkened and curled in.
  3. Highest level of THC is when many/most of the trichomes have turned milky white / cloudy (when viewed under a magnifier). Trichomes that are milky have the highest levels of THC are “ready to harvest” and contribute to more euphoric and psychoactive effects. At this point 50-70% of the pistils have darkened.
  4. Some Sativa & Haze strains have trichomes that never really turn amber. If they’ve turned mostly white and don’t seem to be progressing further, it may be time to harvest!
  5. The most “couchlock” or sedating effect happens towards the end of the pot harvest window, when the trichomes have become a darker color (usually amber/gold). The best results from amber trichomes come from indica strains. The amber/yellow trichomes contribute to a ‘body high’. Some of the THC has converted into less psychoactive CBN, which has calming and anti-anxiety effects. With some strains, the trichomes will even turn red or purple! I like to harvest around when 20% have turned amber. At this point 70-90% of the pistils have darkened. Harvesting later will increase the sedating effects, but may also start reducing the psychoactive effects.
  6. When trichomes start looking grey or withered, the harvest window has passed, and buds will make you sleepy without many psychoactive effects. Usually it takes several weeks (4 or more) from the beginning of the harvest window for this to happen. It’s much easier to harvest too early than too late!

Want more of an ‘in-your-head’ effect? Harvest your buds earlier, when only 40% of hairs have darkened and curled in and more than half of the trichomes are part clear/ part milky or mostly cloudy/milky.

For the “strongest” marijuana buds with the most psychoactive effects, and the highest levels of THC, harvest when almost all trichomes are cloudy/milky.

For more relaxing, anti-anxiety buds, wait until at least some of the milky / cloudy trichomes have darkened to amber. More amber = more relaxing, though the effects may be somewhat less psychoactive. Remember, curing your buds properly for at least 2 weeks to a month will also give them more of an anti-anxiety effect.

When growing your own marijuana plants, you can certainly sample buds off your plant at different stages to get an idea for what your preferences are. It’s okay to cut off pieces at a time!

The hardest part of growing cannabis for many new growers is waiting for the right time to harvest.

There is a strong tendency for new growers to harvest the plant early due to excitement.

Unfortunately, this often results in low yields and lower-potency buds.

If you are feeling excited about harvesting your marijuana plant, pull buds off the plant that look the most done and dry them and check the potency for yourself.

Harvesting the buds in stages (starting off slowly with small batches) can really help abate the excitement.

When in doubt, listen to your gut. Using both methods together will help you pick the best time to harvest, but only YOU know how you want your buds to turn out. This means that even the best methods are just general guidelines. But hopefully, you’re now closer to getting your bud the way you want it.

Happy growing!

This harvest tutorial is part of our “how to harvest cannabis” series:

Flushing > Harvest > Trimming > Drying & Curing​

Learn how to cure buds without guesswork!

Jump to…

Flushing For Better Buds

How To Get To Harvest As Fast As Possible

How Do THC, CBN & CBD Relate to Marijuana Potency?

Better Taste, Better Smell

How to Grow Cannabis in 10 Steps

Cat and Dogs May Nibble on Your Plants!!!

Some cats and dogs love eating cannabis plants! They may lick or chew your plants around the leaves or buds, often at the absolute worst time. Many clones and small plants have been lost to these surprising cannabis pests 🙂 Once your pet gets a taste, you may have a monster on your hands. So if you have pets, make sure you keep them far away from your marijuana plants!

Some Cats & Dogs Love Cannabis – Protect Your Plants!

Renowned grower Jorge Cervantes will answer readers’ questions and give advice on all things related to the cannabis plant. Got a question for Jorge? Email him at [email protected]

Editor’s Note: Laws for cultivating cannabis vary from state to state and city to city — before germinating any seeds or planting any clones, take care to learn what your local laws are.

*****

Question: What’s the best way to tell when my buds are ready for harvest?

More marijuana cultivation tips from Jorge

Cannabis Cultivation Q&A: Yes, cannabis grows like a weed — but there are limits to simplicity

Marijuana harvest tip: Taking more time can yield bigger rewards

Here’s a quick take from a pro: What’s the easiest way to grow marijuana? Weighing the options

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Answer: A cannabis plant matures over time; it is a process. Cannabis is an annual plant, completing its life cycle in one year or less. Outdoors, cannabis flowers in the fall. Long nights and short days are the main signal Mother Nature gives cannabis to flower. Indoors, where grow lights take the place of the sun, growers use an electrical timer to make their own seasons. Summertime is created with 6 hours of darkness and 18 hours of light. The fall flowering photoperiod is replicated with 12 hours darkness and 12 hours of light. Female cannabis plants are ready to harvest in 6-12 weeks after the light has been “flipped” to a 12-hour day/night regimen. As the plants mature, there are certain clues to guide you in knowing when to harvest cannabis.

First clue: Have the stigmas changed?

Look at the white fuzzy hair-like stigmas protruding out of the seed bract on buds. White stigmas are healthy and turn a reddish-brown when they die back, or senesce. When half to three-quarters of the stigmas have turned reddish-brown flower buds should be ready to harvest. But, you need to take a second look, a closer look.

Second clue: Examine the resin glands closely

Use a 30-50X handheld microscope to inspect the resin glands, a.k.a. trichomes, found on flower buds and adjacent foliage. I like to use a microscope that illuminates foliage to get an unshaded view of the translucent resin glands. The microscope will allow you to distinguish several resin glands. The important ones are the capitate-stalked resin glands. They consist of a stalk with a small, spherical globe on top. Be careful when viewing resin glands, they are quite fragile.

The majority of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is located at the base of the globe where it joins the stalk. Fragile capitate-stalked resin glands start to senesce as the plant nears the end of life. The globe starts to degrade first and cannabinoids leak out. Exposure to air, heat and light can speed degradation. Oh yes, fondling flowers can also wreck a lot of capitate-stalked resin glands!

Cannabis is ready to harvest when a small percentage to more than half of the capitate-stalked resin glands have started to degrade. They turn amber and darker colors when they degrade. Some growers prefer to harvest earlier than later; others, later than earlier. It is all a matter of preference, which leads to the third point, consumption.

Third clue: Sample the bud

Dry a few flowers in the oven, 150 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Smoke or vape it and see what you think!

Flower buds do not all mature at the same time. Often, flowers that receive more light and are on top of plants come ripe a few days to more than a week before lower buds. The difference in cannabinoid content, including potency, can be notable. Flowers from short plants grown indoors have less deviation in cannabinoid content than large plants grown outdoors.

There are countless varieties of cannabis. Indica-dominant varieties tend to be ready to harvest in 6-8 weeks after an indoor light regimen is turned to 12 hours dark and 12 hours light. Sativa-dominant varieties tend to be ready to harvest from 9-12 weeks after light regimen is changed to 12/12.

Outdoor crops that cannot be protected should be harvested if there is chance of a freeze or violent rainstorm.

Indoors or out, harvest in the morning whenever possible. Flowers near the tops of indoor and greenhouse plants may be a few days more mature than flowers that receive less light; in this case staggering the harvest is a good idea. Lower flower buds on outdoor plants that receive less light mature more slowly, up to two weeks after flowers near plant tops. Once flower buds are completely mature and ripe, the harvest window lasts from 3-5 days.

This is a quick overview of the best time to harvest cannabis. For complete instructions, including many descriptive color photos, check out “The Cannabis Encyclopedia,” available on Amazon.com.

Your opinion matters
When do you harvest? How do you minimize the work? Do you save leaves for edibles? Please share your tips and tricks with everybody in the comment section below. Thanks!

How to clean or disinfect cauliflower | Wash vegetables – Cauliflower

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So much so that I love to cook with fresh ingredients, including my vegetables, cleaning them before cooking can be a task at times. That is because most of us are in a hurry to cook and proceed towards other commitments. But no matter how much time it takes, you must always clean your vegetables and fruits properly before using them.

Vegetables and fruits have worms and other insects hiding in the crevices, making them unable to see. They are often sprayed with lots of harmful chemicals and insecticides to protect them from such worms. Yes, the organic ones claim they are chemical free, if you can buy them its great, but may not be easily available for everyone. Also remember, before you get your vegetables and fruits to your kitchen, they have traveled a lot and not in a very hygienic manner, so they could be full of soil and microbes, bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. which could lead to food-borne diseases.

The simplest method I have read in many articles is to immerse our veggies into a diluted vinegar for about 10 -20 minutes. Or soak the vegetables and fruits in salty water for some time. Rinse them later and then use them as desired.

There are a few vegetables which absolutely give me shivers. One of them is cauliflower. The reason being the worms that are hidden under its florets, making them almost impossible to see.

Cleaning or disinfecting a cauliflower is a must before you use it in any kind of recipe. Apart from the above two methods of cleaning vegetables, my mom always uses this method only for cleaning cauliflower (or even broccoli).

This method uses turmeric as it has antibacterial properties and can kill germs.

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How to Cut Cauliflower

April 23, 2019

A simple step by step guide on how to cut cauliflower (and how to cut cauliflower florets) for your favorite cauliflower recipes.

Let’s chat about cauliflower! One of my favorite vegetables. We use it in everything from homemade cauliflower curry to roasted cauliflower soup, and so much more.

Later this week, I’ll be sharing one of my favorite (new and improved) cauliflower recipes.

To accompany the recipe, I thought it would be fun to begin a new series on the blog called knife skill basics.


Inspired by my old ingredient spotlight series, this new series will feature step by step photos, preparation tips, along with other helpful information.

My goal with this series is to expand on my cooking resource guides, and teach basic skills to help build your confidence in the kitchen.

Whether you’ve been cooking for years or are just starting out, I hope that you can glean some helpful knowledge or recipe inspiration from these guides.

How to Pick Cauliflower:

When buying whole cauliflower heads, look for heavy, firm, and compact heads without any brown spotting.

The florets should be very tight together (and any leaves should be tightly wrapped around the florets) and not easy to remove.

When is cauliflower in season?

Cauliflower is available year round, but fall and early winter is the best season to source it.

How to Store Cauliflower:

If your cauliflower has collected any moisture, be sure to pat it completely dry before storing in your refrigerator. Ideally, cauliflower should be used within a few days of purchasing, as it browns very quickly.

If you do encounter some brown spots (and wish to remove them for presentation purposes), you can use a microplane to shave them off.

How to Cut Cauliflower into Florets:

Using a large chef’s knife, cut off the stalk of the cauliflower so it lays flat on your cutting board. Set the stem and any leaves aside (these are edible, see below on ways to use them!).

Starting from the top of the cauliflower crown down to the core, slice the cauliflower in half.

Holding each cauliflower half with one hand, use your knife at an angle to cut alongside the core in an upside-down V shape.

Alternatively, you can slice the whole head of cauliflower in quarters, as directed above, and proceed similarly.

Many of the florets will automatically separate, but you can use your knife if necessary to remove any additional core that is holding them together.

Use your knife to halve or quarter any remaining large florets (top of the crown down through the stem) so that all the florets are consistent in size for cooking.

Can you eat cauliflower leaves and stems?

Yes! They are completely edible. Remember to clean them thoroughly. I also recommend peeling the stalk as it can be tough and fibrous.

You can sauté the chopped stem and leaves, but my favorite way to use them is to set them aside (freeze or refrigerate) for cauliflower soup, stir fries, or other applications.

Favorite Cauliflower Recipes:

  • Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • Cauliflower Curry
  • Fried Cauliflower Steaks
  • Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 to 2.5 lb) whole cauliflower

Instructions

  1. Using a large chef’s knife, cut off the stalk of the cauliflower so it can lay flat on your cutting board. Set the stem and any leaves aside (these are edible, see ‘tips for success’ box below on ways to use them!).
  2. Starting from the top of the cauliflower crown down to the core, slice the cauliflower in half. Holding each cauliflower half with one hand, use your knife at an angle to cut alongside the core in an upside-down V shape. Many of the florets will automatically separate, but you can use your knife if necessary to remove any additional core that is holding them together.
  3. Use your knife to halve or quarter any remaining large florets (top of the crown down through the stem) so that all the florets are consistent in size for your preparation.

Notes

Tips for Success:

  • Can you eat cauliflower stems and leaves? Yes! They are completely edible. Remember to clean them thoroughly. I also recommend peeling the stalk as it can be tough and fibrous.
  • You can sauté the chopped stem and leaves, but my favorite way to use them is to set them aside (freeze or refrigerate) for cauliflower soup, stir fries, or other pureed applications.
Nutrition Information:

Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 54mg Carbohydrates: 15g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 7g Protein: 7g A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

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Cauliflower Harvest: Learn More About Picking Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a popular garden crop. One of the most commonly asked questions we hear is when to cut cauliflower or how to harvest cauliflower.

When is Cauliflower Ready to Pick?

As the head (curd) begins to grow, it will eventually become discolored and bitter tasting from sunlight. To avoid this, cauliflower is often blanched to keep the sun off the head and whiten the cauliflower. Generally, this is done when the head reaches about the size of a tennis ball, or 2-3 inches in diameter. Simply pull up about three or four large leaves and tie or fasten them loosely around the cauliflower head. Some people cover them with pantyhose too.

Since the cauliflower head develops rather quickly in ideal growing conditions, it will usually be ready for harvest within a week or two after the blanching process. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it to determine when to harvest cauliflower and avoid its becoming too mature, which results in grainy cauliflower. You’ll want to pick the cauliflower once the head is full but before it has begun to separate, usually at about 6-12 inches in diameter is when to cut cauliflower.

How to Harvest Cauliflower

The mature head should be firm, compact, and white. When you’re ready to harvest the cauliflower head, cut it from the main stem but leave a few of the outer leaves attached to help protect the head and prolong its overall quality until ready to eat. Be sure to handle the head carefully as it can bruise rather easily.

After the Cauliflower Harvest

Once harvested, it’s usually recommended that you soak the head in salt water (2 tbsp to 1 gal) for about 20-30 minutes. This will help expel any cabbageworms that may be hiding inside the head. These pests will quickly come out and die so the head will not only be safe to eat but can be stored without worrying about having it feasted on. Cauliflower keeps best when frozen or canned but it will keep for up to a week or so in the refrigerator if wrapped in protective wrap.

Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet

Cauliflower lovers rejoice! It is possible to learn how to grow Cauliflower in pots at home and enjoy a fresh harvest, year-round.

When you think of container gardening, small herbs are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Cauliflower, however, is a vegetable that is simple to grow in pots at home.

Cauliflower Health Benefits

via Dr. Josh Axe

Before we learn how to grow Cauliflower, we’d like to share some of the many benefits this vegetable has for our health.

This infographic from Dr Axe lists 8 reasons why we should be including it in our diet. It is said to reduce cancer risk and it fights inflammation. It also reduces brain disorders and heart disease.

Cauliflower aids in digestion and also helps to balance hormones. It also is very good for weight loss and by simply swapping out your mashed potato for Cauliflower Mash, you will be amazed at the calories saved.

How To Grow Cauliflower In Pots At Home

When you’re considering growing your cauliflower indoors, there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind. We have outlined the important points below.

Cauliflower Temperature

Cauliflower grows best in moderate climates and is a cold season crop. The ideal temperature is between 10-30 degrees Celsius. When cauliflower is almost fully grown, the ideal temperature ranges from 15-20C.

This is why most gardeners choose to plant their cauliflower crop in the fall, having it set through the winter and mature in the summer.

As you will be growing your cauliflower indoors, the room temperature should be kept steady above 10 degrees.

Cauliflower Pot Size

When it comes to choosing your pot you will need one that is at least 12 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter to fully accommodate your plant.

Another popular idea is to use a large storage bin and drill holes in the bottom. You should be able to grow two or three plants. A barrel will work well for this too.

Cauliflower Soil PH

Soil is always a consideration but the good news is that Cauliflower isn’t picky or tricky. All you need is a decent, moist potting soil. You can add in a bit of clay soil too. Ideally, the pH level should be around 6.5-6.8.

Since cauliflower grows best in moist soil, you want something that’s going to hold moisture for long periods.

Cauliflower Watering Tips

Your Cauliflower will require regular watering, especially if you’re growing it indoors while your heaters are on.

Be sure not to overwater your plants.

A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger into the soil about an inch or two deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to grab your watering can.

Harvesting Your Cauliflower

Provided that you take good care of your Cauliflower Plant, it will be ready to harvest in 3-4 months after starting it from seed.

When the head of the cauliflower is fully developed and around 6-12 inches in diameter (depending on the variety), it’s ready to be blanched.

Blanching is a special process where you’ll tie the leaves of the cauliflower over the head for about 7 days. This allows the plant to get nice and tender, and it also assists it to fully develop its flavor.

How To Grow Cauliflower In Pots Video

Once you’ve got your Cauliflower Plant growing, it’s important to take good care of it. You need to pay special attention to any telltale signs that may hamper its progress.

Christa from Christa’s Garden has some excellent tips to share and we highly recommend you view her video. Click play above to watch now ^

via Good To Be Home

This infographic from Good To Be Home shows you some great tips for keeping your container cauliflower happy. It also details other plants indoors or outdoors.

You can see quite a few plants that grow well indoors or on patios including cucumber, lettuce, carrots and more. Remember that cauliflower grows similarly to cabbages.

You can also see how much sun and water each plant needs and what grow well together. Be sure to Pin.

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Cauliflowers are vegetables that have low calorie levels and have high fiber, calcium and magnesium contents.

Key Cauliflower facts

Name – Brassica botrytis
Family – brassicas
Type – biennial vegetable

Exposure – full sun
Soil – cool, deep, moist and rich

Harvest – June to November

Special care, from sowing and planting up to harvest, will help you get magnificent cabbage.

  • Health: health benefits and therapeutic properties of cauliflower

Sowing, planting cauliflower

Cauliflower comes in different varieties and each requires specific growing conditions and planting times.

Sowing cauliflower

Growing cauliflower takes much longer, since it needs nearly 7 months from seed to harvest.

  • Sow in March and April in a sheltered place to harvest in fall.
  • It’s also possible to start sowing as early as February in a heated shelter.
  • Sow from May to July directly in the ground to harvest in winter, but protect your cauliflower plants from November onwards.

Planting cauliflower plants purchased in nursery pots

The ideal time to plant is just after the last frost spells, towards mid-May, all the way to September to be able to harvest in November.

  • Plant your cauliflower in good garden soil, preferably enriched with nitrogen-rich manure.
  • Place plants at least 24 to 32 inches (60 to 80 cm) apart.

After sowing, how to care for cauliflower

As soon as seedlings have sprouted at least 3 to 4 leaves, transplant them to their target location. Protect the seedlings if you need to plant them before the month of May.

  • Space plants 16 inches (40 cm) apart when transplanting.
    This space is needed to give the plants room to grow.
  • The soil must have been well tilled beforehand.

Watering cauliflower

Cauliflower require a lot of water and must be watered, especially during heat waves.

  • Water regularly but in smaller amounts to keep moisture at a sufficient level.
  • Avoid watering the leaves to keep fungus from appearing.
  • Good mulch retains moisture in the soil.
  • Hoeing helps reduce watering…

Parasites and diseases that attack cauliflower

The main enemy of cauliflower is downy mildew. Moisture is the primary factor that enables the spread of downy mildew.

  • Avoid watering the leaves of your broccoli cauliflower plants.
  • Don’t overcrowd plants so that air circulates well among the leaves.
  • Read our advice on how to treat downy mildew.

Note that cauliflower is also the target of aphids and, of course, caterpillars.

For these two parasites, avoid chemical treatments at any cost, because your vegetables and soil could be contaminated.

Harvesting cauliflower

Best season to harvest cauliflower

Cauliflower can be harvested practically all year round, depending on when they were sown.

Harvesting takes place around 3 months after planting, but this may depend on the climate.

How to harvest cauliflower

Wait for the head to be well-formed, and slice it or tear it off at ground level, since the stem can’t produce any other head for harvest.

Protect your cauliflower plants from November onwards and you will be able to harvest them in winter.

Smart tip about cauliflower

Provide your cauliflower with extra nutrients (fertilizer, manure and seaweed-based compost) to boost growth and especially enhance your own harvest!

Read also

  • Find all our advice and tips on growing savoy, white cabbage and kale
  • Here are all the tips on how to grow Brussels sprouts
  • Health: health benefits and therapeutic properties of cauliflower

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Head of cauliflower by JacLou DL under license
Cauliflower harvest by Evita Ochel under license

Cauliflower is one of the many cabbage related cole crops that revel in cool weather. Mark Twain called it “A cabbage with a college education.”, but we don’t think it’s just cabbage with airs. Cauliflower has a very distinct nuttiness, closer to broccoli in flavor. The main edible part of both cauliflower and broccoli is the flower bud, making them both edible flowers.

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. You’ll have many more variety options if you start your cauliflower from seed.

The white varieties need to be blanched, by covering the head with its leaves. The purple varieties get their color from anthocyanin, an antioxidant. Unfortunately, both the color and the benefits disappear with cooking. And a happy accident leads to the orange cauliflowers, which have a higher percentage of beta-carotene.

  • Leaves: The thick, oval leaves have a pronounced mid-rib and veins. The leaves and stem of cauliflower are both edible.
  • Flowers: The cauliflower head is composed of tightly packed flower buds, often referred to as curds. The actual flowers of the cauliflower are the familiar 4 petals in a cross shape that give this family of vegetables the name cruciferous.

Latin Name

Brassica oleracea

Common Name

Cauliflower

Hardiness Zones

Cauliflower plants are biennial, although they may bolt to seed in their first season because of weather fluctuations. However, if you want to save seeds, you will need to leave some plants unharvested, perhaps over the winter, with some protection from the cold.

Exposure

Plants will grow best in full sun, although a little partial shade might prevent plants from bolting or budding (forming small, button-sized heads), in warmer weather.

Mature Size

The size of the head will depend on the variety you are growing, but average between 6 to 12 in.

Days to Harvest

Most cauliflower varieties require about 2 months to mature, although some are a little quicker and others can take up to 3 months. Since they will not form heads in warm weather and can only handle a light frost, be sure to choose a variety that will have enough time to mature in your climate. That means a fast maturing variety if your spring or fall is short. Longer-maturing varieties are good choices for gardeners with mild or late winters. Gardeners in cold climates often have better luck putting out transplants in mid to late summer and harvesting in the fall.

Harvest when the heads reach the desired size and while the buds are still tight. Don’t leave them too long, or the flowers will open. It would be better to cut them when mature and freeze them for later use. Another option is to lift the whole plant and store it, roots, stem and all intact, in a cool, dry place.

Suggested Varieties

It seems plant breeders like to play with cauliflower because new varieties are always being introduced. Do some sleuthing at your local cooperative extension office, to find varieties that do especially well in your area.

  • Green goddess f1: Lime green varieties with nice flavor and no blanching required (60 to 65 days).
  • Snow crown f1: One of the easier to grow white varieties with some frost tolerance and a short season (50 to 55 days).
  • Di sicilia violetta, aka violetta of Sicily or some other derivation: Beautiful purple, Italian heirloom with a sweet, nutty flavor (70 to 80 days).
  • Cheddar f1: Pretty orange heads that are slow to bolt (55 to 60 days).

Growing Tips

  • Soil: Cauliflower needs a soil rich in organic matter, with a soil pH between 6.0 to 7.0. The soil should be well-draining, but cauliflower needs consistent moisture, to prevent buttoning.
  • Planting: Start seeds indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date. Cauliflower doesn’t like having it’s roots disturbed (we said it was fussy), so peat or paper pots are recommended. Plant seeds 1/2 to 1/2 in. deep and keep moist. They will sprout faster if kept warm (65 to 70 F).

Whether you are planting your own seedlings or some purchased from the store, be sure to harden off your transplants before setting them out in the garden. Space plants about 18 to 24 in. apart, to give the outer leaves plenty of room.

Maintenance

Cauliflower needs consistent moisture and plenty of it. Without sufficient water, the heads turn bitter. Provide at least 1 in. of water a week and make sure it is soaking 6 to 8 in. into the soil. Leaving the soil dry in hot weather will cause the buds to open slightly, making the heads “​ricey”, rather than tight curds. Mulch at planting time, to keep the soil cool and help retain moisture.​

Since cauliflower takes so long to mature, some supplemental feeding will be necessary. Feed every 2 to 4 weeks with an organic fertilizer like kelp and fish emulsion.

White cauliflower will need to be blanched if you want it to remain white. The flavor isn’t terribly altered if you allow it to turn its natural yellowish-brown, but it does seem to remain a little sweeter and a lot more appealing if blanched. Begin blanching the heads when they are about the size of a large egg. Start the process when the plants are fully dry, to avoid rotting. The traditional way to blanch is by folding some of the larger leaves over the head and tucking or securing them on the other side. You can hold them down with a rock or tie them in place. Don’t fit the leaves too tightly; you want to block the light, but leave room for the head to expand.

Once the leaves are in place, try not to get them wet and check under them periodically to make sure insects aren’t using them as a hideout.

If this sounds like too much effort, you can simply cover them with an overturned bucket. Or take an even easier route and grow one of the colored varieties. They do not need to be blanched.

Pests and Problems

  • Insect pests: Unfortunately cauliflower is susceptible to all the usual cole crop pests, and there are many, including cabbage maggots, cabbage loopers, and cabbage worms. Young transplants are also attractive to aphids and flea beetles, especially if grown in the spring.
  • Animal pests: Groundhogs are exceptionally fond of cole crops. Fencing or caging is the best deterrence.
  • Diseases: Here again, the cole crops are problem prone, with blackleg, black rot and club root leading the pack. It’s very important to not plant cole crops in the same place, year after year, and to clean up all debris at the end of the season, to prevent diseases over-wintering in the soil.

Another common cauliflower problem is leaf tip dieback and distortion. This is generally caused by a lack of boron in the soil. Kelp or seaweed fertilizer should help prevent this.

Cauliflower Growing Guide

Prepare

A member of the cabbage family, cauliflower enjoys similar growing conditions to its relatives. It takes slightly longer from sowing to harvest then other brassicas (approximately three to four month), but the taste is worth the wait.

Cauliflower doesn’t enjoy temperatures over 25 degrees, so check you are planting at the correct time.

Refer to our Planting Calendar.

Plant

Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix. If planting in pots and containers, fill with Tui Vegetable Mix.

The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting.

Find a full sun, sheltered position to plant and space at least 50cm-70cm apart, to ensure the crops can fully mature and are not fighting for space, fertiliser and water. If you planted cauliflower or a certain variety of brassica last year don’t grow them in the same spot as pests and diseases can be lingering in the soil, read our Crop Rotation Guide here.

Planting in garden beds

  • Water plants thoroughly before planting and allow to drain.
  • Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant.
  • Partly fill the hole with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the centre of the hole.
  • Fill in with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
  • Water your plant well.

Planting in pots and containers

  • Water plants thoroughly before potting and allow to drain.
  • Partly fill your container with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the container.
  • Fill your container with Tui Vegetable Mix up to 3cm from the top.
  • Tap the container gently on the ground to settle the mix.
  • Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
  • Water your plant well.

Nourish

Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential.

Select a fertiliser specially blended for your crop like Tui Vegetable Food. Feed cauliflower planted in pots and containers with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser. Well watered, well nourished veges will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. While your cauliflower are growing regularly apply a dose of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to give them a welcome boost.

Harvest cauliflower when the heads are still tight, once they start spreading they lose flavour. Cut off the head before you pull out the root, otherwise you could end up with dirt all through the head! If you leave the plant in new, smaller heads will appear in a few weeks below the first one and continue to sprout for the rest of the season.

Protect your plants from the elements with layers of Tui Pea Straw Mulch, to help keep their roots moist and keep your garden weed free.

Be vigilant and stop unwanted insects and diseases from ruining your plants. Slugs and snails can be an issue – lay Tui Quash slug and snail control around young plants.

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