Grow Your Own Cauliflower Steaks
Grow Your Own Cauliflower Steaks
Cauliflower
Grow Your Own
Cauliflower Steaks
How to plant, manage, and harvest cauliflower, plus a recipe for delicious cauliflower steaks
By Jodi Torpey
Move over kale, it’s cauliflower’s turn in the spotlight.
Once considered a predictable addition to veggie platters or a boiled-until-bland side dish, cauliflower has recently brushed off its once boring front to take the trophy for Most Versatile Vegetable.
Home cooks, chefs, and food companies are capitalizing on its mild taste and ability to stand in for starchy ingredients like rice, potatoes, and flour to make low-carb, gluten-free, and plant-based versions of indulgent classics. From pizza crust and gnocchi to chips and steak, cauliflower-powered makeovers are giving people with special dietary needs and those wanting to try a veggie-heavy diet a reason to rejoice—and dig in.
Cooked Cauliflowers
Toro
Toro
/ Grow Your Own Cauliflower /
If there’s a downside to the cauliflower craze, it’s that availability and cost can fluctuate. The good news: Instead of buying pricey cauliflower, you can grow your own white, green, purple, or orange heads of the cruciferous veggie. However, while easy-going in the kitchen, cauliflower’s a bit more demanding in the vegetable garden.

The saying, “all gardening is regional” is especially true when it comes to growing cauliflower. This is a cool-season vegetable, and cauliflower plants prefer temperatures in the 60s. They don’t grow well when it’s too hot or too cold.

In cooler climates, cauliflower’s an ideal candidate for spring planting. In warmer regions, wait until the end of summer to start seeds indoors and transplant in the fall.

Colored cauliflower
/ Choose Your Cauliflower Plant Types /
It’s a good idea to pick different varieties to see which will grow best in your garden. Choose one or two early-maturing varieties, and try some of the colorful offerings, too. The purple, green, and orange varieties won’t require the added step of blanching—covering the heads while they’re small to protect them from the sun—needed for white cauliflower heads. As an alternative, look for self-blanching varieties with leaves that grow over the curds, the immature flower heads.
/ Grow Your Own Cauliflower /
If there’s a downside to the cauliflower craze, it’s that availability and cost can fluctuate. The good news: Instead of buying pricey cauliflower, you can grow your own white, green, purple, or orange heads of the cruciferous veggie. However, while easy-going in the kitchen, cauliflower’s a bit more demanding in the vegetable garden.

The saying, “all gardening is regional” is especially true when it comes to growing cauliflower. This is a cool-season vegetable, and cauliflower plants prefer temperatures in the 60s. They don’t grow well when it’s too hot or too cold.

In cooler climates, cauliflower’s an ideal candidate for spring planting. In warmer regions, wait until the end of summer to start seeds indoors and transplant in the fall.

Colored cauliflower
/ Choose Your Cauliflower Plant Types /
It’s a good idea to pick different varieties to see which will grow best in your garden. Choose one or two early-maturing varieties, and try some of the colorful offerings, too. The purple, green, and orange varieties won’t require the added step of blanching—covering the heads while they’re small to protect them from the sun—needed for white cauliflower heads. As an alternative, look for self-blanching varieties with leaves that grow over the curds, the immature flower heads.
Plant These Cauliflower Winners
You can also take a page from the experts: Over the years, national plant trialing organization All-America Selections has identified cauliflower winners for superior performance in home gardens. Here are three to consider:
Ideal Snowball
Ideal Snowball
  • 1949 winner
  • Reliable and high yield
  • Days to maturity: 70 to 90 from transplanting
Snow King
Snow King:
  • 1969 winner
  • Hardy, resistant, and heat tolerant
  • Days to maturity: 50 from transplanting
Snow Crown
Snow Crown:
  • 1975 winner
  • Easy to grow early variety and disease resistant
  • Days to maturity: 50 from transplanting
How to Plant Cauliflower
Start indoors
Start indoors: Instead of planting cauliflower seeds directly into garden soil, start them indoors. Give them four to six weeks before transplanting. Use the number of days to maturity listed on the seed packet for planting and planning when to harvest.

An alternative to seeds is purchasing cauliflower transplants. For these too, use the days to maturity guidelines, which should be available on the plant sticks placed in transplants at stores.

Prepare your soil
Prepare your soil: Dig in compost and plenty of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Nitrogen is the key ingredient for helping plants develop large, firm heads—the type you’ll want to be working with in your kitchen.

In addition, set up a drip irrigation or soaker hose system to ensure the soil stays consistently moist while plants are growing and curds are forming.

Plant away
Plant away: Space cauliflower plants about 14 to 24 inches apart, with about 18 to 36 inches between rows.
How to Manage Cauliflower
Water and Fertilizer
Water and Fertilizer: These plants need plenty of evenly distributed water and a high-nitrogen fertilizer applied every two weeks starting when they’re a few inches tall. Side-dress with dry fertilizer by sprinkling it on both sides of each row of plants, approximately 6 to 8 inches away from the plant. Rake the fertilizer into the soil and use a garden hose with a sprinkler or a watering can to gently water around the base of each plant to thoroughly moisten the soil.
Mulch
Mulch: Apply an organic mulch around the plants to regulate soil temperature and prevent weeds from growing.
Sun protection
Sun protection: If you plant in the spring, using a shade cloth can reduce heat stress during extremely hot weather. You can place a shade cloth or floating row covers directly over plants, or you can create a support system with sticks, fencing, wire hoops, or whatever fits best in your garden.

When egg-sized cauliflower heads begin to form, protect them from sunburn by gently tying the inner leaves around each head with twine or rubber bands. This method of blanching also protects heads from frost.

Pest prevention
Pest prevention: A lightweight row cover cloth placed over hoops and with sealed edges can protect plants from insect pests. Watch for cutworms, cabbage maggot flies, and leaf-eating caterpillars. You can check with your county’s extension for specific controls.
How to Plant Cauliflower
Start indoors
Start indoors: Instead of planting cauliflower seeds directly into garden soil, start them indoors. Give them four to six weeks before transplanting. Use the number of days to maturity listed on the seed packet for planting and planning when to harvest.

An alternative to seeds is purchasing cauliflower transplants. For these too, use the days to maturity guidelines, which should be available on the plant sticks placed in transplants at stores.

Prepare your soil
Prepare your soil: Dig in compost and plenty of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Nitrogen is the key ingredient for helping plants develop large, firm heads—the type you’ll want to be working with in your kitchen.

In addition, set up a drip irrigation or soaker hose system to ensure the soil stays consistently moist while plants are growing and curds are forming.

Plant away
Plant away: Space cauliflower plants about 14 to 24 inches apart, with about 18 to 36 inches between rows.
How to Manage Cauliflower
Water and Fertilizer
Water and Fertilizer: These plants need plenty of evenly distributed water and a high-nitrogen fertilizer applied every two weeks starting when they’re a few inches tall. Side-dress with dry fertilizer by sprinkling it on both sides of each row of plants, approximately 6 to 8 inches away from the plant. Rake the fertilizer into the soil and use a garden hose with a sprinkler or a watering can to gently water around the base of each plant to thoroughly moisten the soil.
Mulch
Mulch: Apply an organic mulch around the plants to regulate soil temperature and prevent weeds from growing.
Sun protection
Sun protection: If you plant in the spring, using a shade cloth can reduce heat stress during extremely hot weather. You can place a shade cloth or floating row covers directly over plants, or you can create a support system with sticks, fencing, wire hoops, or whatever fits best in your garden.

When egg-sized cauliflower heads begin to form, protect them from sunburn by gently tying the inner leaves around each head with twine or rubber bands. This method of blanching also protects heads from frost.

Pest prevention
Pest prevention: A lightweight row cover cloth placed over hoops and with sealed edges can protect plants from insect pests. Watch for cutworms, cabbage maggot flies, and leaf-eating caterpillars. You can check with your county’s extension for specific controls.
/ Harvesting and Storing Cauliflower /
Keep track of the number of days to maturity for each variety so you’ll know when to start harvesting. Even if heads seem small when H-day arrives, cut them from stems while they’re tight and before florets begin to separate. The leaves should be crisp and green.

Tightly wrap heads and refrigerate them right away. Fresh heads will keep for a week or more, but for the best taste, prepare, pickle, or freeze them as soon as possible.

Ready to start planting cauliflower? Visit your local Tractor Supply, where a friendly team member would be happy to help you select all the gardening supplies you’ll need.
About the Writer
Jodi Torpey is an author and award-winning master gardener who lives in Denver.
Roasted Garlic Parmesan
Roasted Garlic Parmesan
Recipe: Roasted Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower Steaks with Avocado Dip
A delicious and healthy vegetarian main dish
By Carly Orbon Sabev
Roasting cauliflower with parmesan results in crispy florets and a tender, flavorful stalk. Here, it’s paired with a creamy avocado dipping sauce.

This recipe is a great option for a delicious and healthy plant-based main course. It’s low-carb and easy to make—perfect to add to your weekly rotation.

Prep Time:
20 minutes
Cook Time:
25 minutes
Yields:
4 servings
INGREDIENTS:
CAULIFLOWER STEAK:
Cooking spray, for greasing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon of fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish
2 heads cauliflower
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
AVOCADO DIP:
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
 Cauliflower Steak
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of the parsley.
  3. Cut cauliflower heads lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Don’t worry if the ends fall apart. Place cauliflower steaks and pieces on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  4. Brush both sides of cauliflower steaks and pieces with olive oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake cauliflower 10 minutes. Flip, sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until edges are golden brown and cauliflower turns a bit translucent.
  6. While the cauliflower is cooking, make the dipping sauce: Carefully cut open avocado and remove pit and skin. Place avocado and remaining dip ingredients in a food processor or heavy-duty blender and pulse until completely smooth. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Sprinkle cauliflower with remaining parsley and serve cauliflower warm with sauce on the side.
About the Writer
Carly Orbon Sabev is a chef and holistic health coach.

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