Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

cauliflower 300x225 Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

Cauliflower – it’s whats in season in California!

Did you know that Cauliflower is a very sensitive plant?  Especially during it’s early growing stage.


Glorious Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cool-season crop in the cole family (Brassica oleracea), which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. However,  Cauliflower is more temperamental than its relatives—you could say it’s “Sensitive”. The trick to growing cauliflower is consistently cool temperatures, which is why almost three fourths of commercial cauliflower is grown in the coastal valleys of California. However, you can try growing it at home no matter where you live, but timing is important to catch the temperature just right. It also needs rich soil and a steady supply of water and nutrients.



Cauliflower likes temperatures in the 60’s.   Young plants will form a head prematurely if their growth is disrupted.  How does this happen?  Well, if your not planting from seed…your going with transplants in 6-packs or even 4-inch pots then the problem with your cauliflower may have originated at the nursery.  Any stress tips the balance toward premature heading, or “buttoning,” when the plant makes tiny button-sized heads.

This can happen when it’s too hot or too cold. This also happens if plants sit in packs too long, or are stunted by drought or poor soil.


Cauliflower Winter Harvest 300x168 Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

Got small heads?


Cauliflower planted in the garden should have steady, uninterrupted growth to produce large heads.  Avoid conditions that may stress these plants.  Here’s a reminder of the big 5:

Lack of Fertility (feeding)

Lack of Water

Insect damage


Very Cold Soil or Air Temps


Varieties of Cauliflower that take a short time to mature are more susceptible to stress than longer maturing varieties.


caulflower 219x300 Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

“Buttoning” Cauliflower


Growing Fall Cauliflower Basics:

  • Set out fall crops about 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. Be prepared to shade them, if needed, to protect from heat.
  • Space cauliflower plants about 18 inches apart in the row with 30 inches between rows to allow room for walking.
  • Remember, plants need an even moisture supply to avoid stress.
  • Organic mulch will help keep the soil cool and moist and will suppress weeds.
  • Apply 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week if rain falls short.

When the cauliflower heads are about 2 inches wide, you may need to pull the leaves up over each little head and fasten with a clothespin or twine. This shades the head to ensure it will be white and tender at harvest (called blanching). Plants are supposed to “self-blanch,” in which the leaves naturally curl over the head, but watch them because they often need the help of a clothespin.

Besides avoiding stresses, watch for cabbage loopers, imported cabbageworms, cabbage root maggots, aphids, and flea beetles. Possible disease pests include black leg, black rot, clubroot, and yellows. 


cauliflower heads 300x225 Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

Ready to eat raw or in yummy recipes!


The head is usually ready about a week or so after you tie up the leaves. Leave the head to grow as long as it stays compact (ideally, it will grow to 6 to 8 inches in diameter). You can untie it to peek and tie it back if needed. If the head begins to open up, cut it from the plant at the base of the neck no matter how small it is because it will only decline in quality. The head should keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.


Recipe Time!

Gemelli with Cauliflower, Bacon, Sage

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings



Adapted from Everyday Food


  • Sea Salt & Ground Pepper
  • 3/4 lb. Gemelli or other short pasta
  • 5 Slices Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 Medium Onions, diced small
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Medium Head Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 TBSP fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Reserve 1/2 C pasta water, drain pasta and return to pot.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium until fat is rendered and bacon crisp, 10 minutes.
  4. Drain bacon, add butter, onions, garlic to skillet and cook until onions are softened, 10 minutes.
  5. Add cauliflower, cover and cook stirring occasionally until cauliflower is tender, 12 minutes.
  6. Stir in bacon, sage and cook till fragrant, 1 minute.
  7. Add cauliflower mixture to pot with pasta.
  8. Stir in vinegar and enough reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.
  9. Season with Salt and Pepper.


And a Soup for you too!


Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 6



Adapted from Everyday Food.


  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced small
  • 1 Medium head Cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 C. chicken broth, homemade
  • 5 1/2 ounces, sharp white cheddar, grated (1 1/2 C)
  • Sea Salt & Ground Pepper


  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium.
  2. Add onion and cook until softened.
  3. Add cauliflower and cook until just beginning to brown, 12 minutes.
  4. Add broth and 1 C water, bring to a boil over high heat.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
  7. In batches, fill blender half-way with mixture and puree until smooth.
  8. Return pureed mixture to pot, add more broth for a thinner soup if desired.
  9. Heat over medium till warmed through.
  10. Add cheese, stir until melted.
  11. Salt and Pepper.


Serve with crusty bread and/or salad.


More Awesome Cauliflower links…..

Jessica Bennett Espinoza @ Delicious Obsessions:  Garlic Herb Lime Cauliflower Rice (Cauli-Rice) Recipe

Adrienne Urban @ Whole New Mom:  Cauliflower topped Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie 

Andrea Kessel Fabry @ Just So Natural Products:    Cauliflower stir-fry recipe

Ornamental Rule Lines in Different Design 2 150x44 Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

This article is hopping around the following Blog Hops:

Homestead Barn HopWildcrafting WednesdayFrom the Farm Fridays, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Simple Life Sunday Blog Hop.


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Medical Disclaimer:

Nothing in this post is to be construed as medical advice, simply a sharing of things that have worked for me & my family. If you have any symptoms of serious illness, taking medication, pregnant or nursing, or have never worked with herbal materials or essential oils before, please consider consulting a medical professional before use. I am unable to offer advise for your particular medical situation; please ask your Doctor, Nurse Practitioner or Naturopath for further guidance.  The statements made here have not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

Ornamental Rule Lines in Different Design 2 150x44 Is Your Cauliflower Stressed?

About Simply Living Simply

I am a "red-neck country wife" to one wonderfully amazing man, mother to many outrageous children, daughter of the ONE Glorious God. Learning to be more self-reliant & self-sufficient in a semi-homemade, homesteading way!
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  1. Fantastic post! I learned things I never knew! Thank you for sharing the link to my cauli-rice too! :)


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