Mistakes to Avoid when Growing Cauliflower

Avoid some common mistakes when growing cauliflower to ensure a healthy, tasty crop. Cauliflower rot, cabbage worm or maggot infestation, poor soil quality, improper light and overcrowding can all hinder an otherwise healthy crop. This informational will give you the clues to look for to detect if anything is wrong with your cauliflower. After you get through one season of cauliflower growing, you will practically be an expert.

Cauliflower Rot

The first and best method to avoid black cauliflower rot is to use disease-free seeds. In the western states, this is typically not a problem. Make a point of purchasing disease-resistant varieties of cauliflower as well. What is assumed to be rot might be the work of pests such as the cabbage worm or cabbage fly maggots. There are a number of ways to effectively control these pests.

Pest Control

When your cauliflower starts to grow, you might see harmless-looking white moths flutter about and land on them. The cabbage moth deposits its larvae on the plants, and the larva become the cabbage worm or rounder. These are green, caterpillar-like worms that will eat all leaves off of a plant. The cabbage fly leaves behind larvae that become maggots that eat through roots. If you have what you think is root rot, it might be the cabbage maggot.

There are two ways to control these pests. Lay floating row covers, or white transparent sheets that prevent moths and flies from landing on the cauliflower plants. Alternatively, spray plants with a mixture of Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) and water. After the worms ingest the solution, they will die and fall off. It is an organic insecticide, so it is safe to use on your plants.

Soil Quality

The soil you use to plant your cauliflower should be fertilized, loose and rich and get plenty of sunlight. Most importantly, it should not have been used to grow any member of the Brassica family—including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage or Brussels sprouts—for at least 3 years. Crops should be rotated to different beds every year. Plants take certain nutrients out of the soil, so if you use the same growing area as the previous year, the soil will be depleted.

Light and Spacing

As mentioned, cauliflower should receive plenty of sunlight for the best results. It should be watered daily but not saturated. Cauliflower plants tend to grow quite large, so give them at least 18 inches on all sides. They will grow well with family members like broccoli or cabbage.

Improper spacing, poor light, inadequate pest protection and depleted or under-fertilized soil are some of the common mistakes that first-time cauliflower growers often make. Knowing what to avoid going into the process can help you have a successful cauliflower crop the first year you grow it.