Cauliflower (Brassica Oleracea) is a cool season vegetable that is considered a delicacy. It is an annual plant that is grown in fields. The head is eaten while the stalk and surrounding thick, green leaves are used in vegetable broth or discarded. Cauliflower originated over 2,000 years ago in gardens of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. It was consumed throughout western Europe around 16th century. China and India are the top producers of cauliflower and broccoli. About half of all cauliflower is raised in China and one fourth in India. In Europe and USA it is grown in Spain and California respectively.
Traditional varieties include Snowball, Hybrid White, Super Snowball, Snow Crown, Mayflower, Candid Charm, Mormon, Agrahani, Poushi, Maghi, Snow White, Snow Grace. Self-blanching varieties are Self Blanche, Early Tuscan, Late Tuscan. Heirloom varieties include All the Year Round, Early Pearl, Early Snowball, Igloo, Violetta Italia and Walcheren Winter. Commercial varieties includue Fremont, Igloo and Snow Crown. A comprehensive list of varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University.
Soil: Cauliflower is grown on many different types of soil but does best in a rich, well drained soil with a high moisture-holding capacity. A high humus content in the soil will provide better aeration and water
penetration. If a soil is low in organic matter, stable or green manures can be supplied. Cauliflower grows best on a neutral or slightly acid soil (pH 6.0 to 6.5).
Planting: Plant on 8 to 10 inch ridged rows 36 to 38 inches apart and 15 to 20 inches between plants in the row. To insure proper contact of soil with the roots, water with 5 lb of soluble high phosphate fertilizer per 100 gal of water applied at one half pint to each transplant. For fall crops, cauliflower can be planted by seeding directly in the field and thinned to the desired in-row spacing when the plants have 3 to 4 true leaves. Precision seeders are very helpful in reducing seed usage and thinning labor. Approximately 1 to 2 lb per acre of seed are required when seeded directly in the field.
Irrigation: One inch of water every 5 to 7 days, from rainfall or irrigation, is highly desirable to produce large yields of high quality heads. Cauliflower is quite sensitive to stress, thus, be sure to irrigate.
Fertilizer: Cauliflower requires a rich soil. In absence of a soil test, a general recommendation would be 80 lbs of nitrogen, 80 lbs P2O2and 80 to 100 K2O plus 15 to 20 lb of borax per acre. Without boron, hollow stems with internal brown discoloration can result. This fertilizer should be broadcasted or mixed into the row. Sidedress 4 weeks after transplanting, with 30 lb of nitrogen. On sandy soil an additional sidedressing may be necessary following excess rain. Home gardeners should mix 2 level Tbsp of borax with 5 qt of fertilizer and apply this to 100 ft of row. Mix the fertilizer thoroughly with the soil.
Cauliflower requires high magnesium levels and shows deficiency symptoms readily when soils are too acid or the element is in short supply. In sandy loams of the Coastal Plain, magnesium at the rate of 100 lb of MgO2 per acre may be beneficial. Molybdenum deficiency which produces "whiptailing" of the leaves is also prevalent on very acid soils.
A Tasty Food
Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed or eaten raw. When cooking the outer leaves and thick stalks are removed, leaving only the florets. The leaves are also edible but are most often discarded. The florets should be broken into similar-sized pieces so they are cooked evenly. After eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, the florets should be soft but not mushy (depending on size). Stirring while cooking can break the florets into smaller, uneven pieces. Cauliflower is often served with a cheese sauce, as in the dish cauliflower cheese or with a meat gravy. Low carb dieters can use cauliflower as a reasonable substitute for potatoes for while they can produce a similar texture, or mouth feel, they lack the starch of potatoes; cauliflower is used to produce a potato substitute known as fauxtato
Cauliflower is low in fat and high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density, with several phytochemicals, which are beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. In addition, the compound indole-3-carbinol, which appears to work as an anti-estrogen, appears to slow or prevent the growth of tumors of the breast and prostate. Cauliflower also contains other glucosinolates besides sulfurophane, substances which may improve the livers ability to detoxify carcinogenic substances. A high intake of cauliflower has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
• Energy 20 kcal 100 kJ
• Carbohydrates 5 g
- Sugars 2.4 g
- Dietary fiber 2.5 g
• Fat 0 g
• Protein 2 g
• Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.057 mg 4%
• Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.063 mg 4%
• Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.53 mg 4%
• Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.65 mg 13% • Vitamin B6 0.22 mg 17%
• Folate (Vit. B9) 57 ?g 14%
• Vitamin C 46 mg 77%
• Calcium 22 mg 2%
• Iron 0.44 mg 4%
• Magnesium 15 mg 4%
• Phosphorus 44 mg 6%
• Potassium 300 mg 6%
• Zinc 0.28 mg 3%