A brassica similar to broccoli, collards, kale, and cabbage, cauliflower is a cool-season crop, which is why there is no problem even if you grow it indoors and in a place that does not receive full sun. Its cultivation started in as early as 600 BC in Turkey. In Europe, cultivation first started in the 16th century and in the United States, in the 20th century. The height and width of the flower can range from eight to 30 inches. Since you will be growing them indoors, choose a cultivar that is smaller. It has coarse and large leaves, which form a rosette. There are leaves surrounding the stalks, and in the middle, there is a white head that looks like a small tree. Its head has an average width of six inches and weight of two to three pounds. The most common color of the head is white, although there are also some that are yellow, purple, or orange, among others.
There are different varieties of cauliflower, each with their respective physical characteristics. One of the most popular is White Cloud, which is obviously a white variety of cauliflower. If you want something with bright color, on the other hand, you can opt for Cheddar. It has 25 times more beta carotene than what you can find in white cauliflower, which gives its head a distinct orange color. Purple of Sicily, on the other hand, has a bright purple color, superb flavor, and plenty of nutrients.
Planting and Growing Conditions
The first thing that you have to do is to look for high-quality, disease-free seeds, which will depend on the specific variety that you would like to propagate. Start planting just before winter or at least six weeks before you need the vegetable.
After preparing your seeds, the next thing that requires your attention is the right choice of a container. On average, the pot should be at least 12 to 18 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches deep. For a standard container, it is advisable that you grow only one in each of them. Any material will be acceptable, as long as there are drainage holes at the bottom.
Your choice of soil will be another critical factor that will influence the success of growing a cauliflower. The potting mix should be lightweight, loose, and well-draining. It will be best to add coconut bark, compost, and perlite, among other components that could enrich the nutrients in the soil.
Fill the pot with your potting mix, but be sure to not over-fill it up until the rim. It will be good to leave a space of at least half an inch. Using your finger, poke the soil to create holes. Fill it with your seeds. Make sure that there is more than enough space to accommodate the growth of the plant.
Now, position the pot in the windowsill or in any other place in the house where it can receive up to six hours of bright but indirect sunlight in a day. You can also transplant the cauliflower in your outdoor garden if the climate is more forgiving.
Looking for reasons to grow cauliflower and eat more of this delicious vegetable? Below are some of the many health benefits that it can deliver:
- Fight Cancer: Cauliflower is one of the vegetables that can be effective when it comes to cancer prevention. It has sulforaphane, which is basically a compound that inhibits tumor growth. To be specific, it can be effective in the prevention of breast cancer.
- Improves Heart Health: The regular consumption of broccoli is also positively linked to the lower likelihood of having cardiovascular diseases. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help regulate blood pressure, which are vital to having a healthier heart.
- Improves Digestion: As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower can be effective as a digestive aid. It has nutrients that will make it easier to digest food and will also optimize the ability of the body to absorb nutrients.
- Strengthens the Bone: One of the inevitable consequences of aging is having brittle bones. To avoid problems like osteoporosis, eating broccoli will help since it is a potent source of Vitamin C and calcium, both of which are critical for bone health.
- Boosts the Immune System: With immune strengthening properties and antioxidants, cauliflower will be effective in improving your body’s defense against the most common health problems.
- Improves Brain Health: Phosphorus and choline are two of the compounds in broccoli that will help in strengthening the cellular membranes, which will be vital to better brain function. It also helps reduce the likelihood of memory decline amongst aging people.
Pests and Diseases
Without proper attention to your cauliflower, it can experience various diseases, such as bacterial soft rot, black rot, downy mildew, damping-off, ring spot, powdery mildew, and verticillium wilt. Meanwhile, in the case of pests, some of the most common causes of infestation include crickets, cutworms, harlequin bugs, nematodes, and whiteflies.
Care and Maintenance
Here are some useful tips to maintain the cauliflower in its tip-top condition:
- Watering is one of the most important things to do to take care of the plant. Regular watering is critical during the early stages of the plant. Nonetheless, make sure to avoid overwatering as this can encourage root rot and can be a precursor of different plant diseases. Increase the frequency of watering when the weather is hot.
- Like water, fertilizer will also be necessary to provide nutrients that are essential for the growth of the plant. A liquid fertilizer will be best when the head reaches maturity. You can also apply fertilizer on the soil before sowing the seeds to speed up its germination.
- Do not recycle soil from an old crop, especially those that belong to the same family as a cauliflower. Doing so will increase the likelihood that there will be transfer of pathogens, and hence, infection is more likely to happen.
- To enjoy optimal flavor and quality of the crop, it is important to know the right timing of harvest. The best time to harvest is when the head reaches a diameter of six to eight inches. This is generally true for most, but this will still depend on the specific variety that you have.
A nutritious and delicious vegetable, cauliflower is one plant that you can easily grow indoors. It may be intimidating at first, but with the right growing conditions, it will be easy for you to succeed. From the right choice of the variety to plant to having a rich soil that will supplement the nutrients that the plant needs, it does not take much effort for you to yield a healthy crop.