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Cauliflower Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Cauliflower plant
Cauliflower Problems can be avoided: Summer-planted cauliflower for fall harvest will be both easier to grow and more flavorful–cauliflower prefers to leisurely mature in cool weather.

Cauliflower is grown much like cabbage, but requires more careful treatment. It is best to start cauliflower indoors where it can be protected from both cold and hot temperatures.

Spring-planted cauliflower is likely to face early cold and late heat which will make the effort difficult.

Summer-planted cauliflower for fall harvest will be both easier to grow and more flavorful–cauliflower prefers to leisurely mature in cool weather.

Start the fall cauliflower crop at the same time you plant late cabbage

For cauliflower growing tips see Cauliflower Growing Success Tips at the bottom of this post.

Common cauliflower growing problems with cures and controls:

• Seedlings fail to emerge from soil; seedlings are eaten; roots are tunneled. Cabbage maggot is a small gray-white, legless worm to ⅓-inch long; adult is the cabbage root fly, looks like a housefly. Flies lay eggs in the soil near the seedling or plant. Maggots will tunnel into roots leaving brown scars; some plants may be honeycombed with slimy tunnels. Exclude flies with floating row covers. Remove and dispose of damaged plants. Apply lime or wood ashes around the base of plants; time planting to avoid insect growth cycle. Plant a bit later when the weather is drier. Companion plant with mint.

• Seeds rot or seedlings collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they appear. Damping off is a fungus that lives in the soil, particularly where humidity is high. Do not plant in cold, moist soil. Make sure soil is well drained.

• Seedlings are eaten or cut off near soil level. Cutworms are gray grubs ½- to ¾-inch long that can be found curled under the soil. They chew stems, roots, and leaves. Place a 3-inch paper collar around the stem of the plant. Keep the garden free of weeds; sprinkle wood ash around base of plants

• Young sprouts fail to grow or die back; bluish-black spot on leaves and stems. Blackleg is a fungal disease which leaves sprouts girdled and rotting at soil level–“blacklegs.” Blackleg is spread by cutworms and cabbage maggots. Remove and destroy infected plants; keep the garden free of plant debris. Add organic matter to planting bed; make sure soil is well-drained. Rotate crops.

• Young plants flower. Cold will cause young plants to flower and produce seed without forming a head. Protect young plants from cold weather with floating row covers; set transplants into the garden no sooner than 1 to 3 weeks before the last average frost date in spring. Don’t plant too early.

• Irregular yellowish to brownish spots on upper leaf surfaces; grayish powder or mold on undersides. Downy mildew is caused by a fungus. Improve air circulation. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Keep garden free of plant debris.

• Plant wilts; roots are swollen and misshapen, roots rot. Clubroot is a soilborne fungal disease. Fungus interferes with water and nutrient uptake of roots. Keep the garden clean of plant debris and weeds that can harbor the fungus. Remove and destroy infected plants including soil around roots. Clubroot is found in acid soils; add lime if soil pH below 7.2. Rotate crops for at least 2 years. Purchase transplants from disease-free supplier.

• Leaves become dull yellow, curl, and plant may die. Cabbage yellows is caused by the Fusarium soil fungus that infects plants usually where the soil is warm. The disease is spread by leafhoppers. Remove infected plants. Control leafhopper. Keep the garden free of weeds which can harbor disease. Keep soil evenly moist, but not wet. Rotate crops.

Plant resistant varieties: Early Snowball.

• Leaves yellow; plant stunted; small glistening white specks on roots. Root cyst nematode is a microscopic worm-like animal that lives in the film of water that coats soil particles. Rotate cabbage family crops. Solarize the soil with clear plastic in mid-summer.

• Plant stunted; worms tunnel into roots. Plump grayish grub with brown head is the larva of the June beetle, a reddish brown or black hard-shelled beetle to 1 inch long. Wireworms are the soil-dwelling larvae of click beetles; they look like wiry-jointed worms. Check soil before planting; hand pick and destroy pests; flood the soil if wireworms are present. Remove infested plants and surrounding soil. Keep the garden free of refuse that could shelter beetle eggs.

• Leaves are yellowish and slightly curled with small shiny specks. Aphids are tiny, oval, whitish-green, pink, or black pear-shaped insects that colonize on leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. Remove with a blast of water. Use insecticidal soap solution. Mulch with aluminum foil to disorient aphids.

• Leaves have whitish or yellowish spots; leaves are deformed; plant wilts. Harlequin bugs or stink bugs. Harlequin bugs are black with bright red yellow or orange markings. They suck fluids from plant tissue causing white and yellow blotches. Handpick and destroy bugs and egg masses. Keep garden free of crop residue and weeds where bugs breed. Spray plants wit Sevin, pyrethrum and rotenone. Stink bugs are gray or green shield-shaped bugs about ¼-inch long; they feed on fruits. Remove garden debris and weeds where bugs can overwinter. Hand-pick egg masses and bugs and destroy.

• Tiny shot-holes in leaves of seedlings. Flea beetles are tiny bronze or black beetles a sixteenth of an inch long. They eat small holes in the leaves of seedlings and small transplants. The larvae feed on roots of germinating plants. Spread diatomaceous earth around seedling. Handpick off plants, Cultivate often to disrupt life cycle. Keep garden clean. Spade garden soil deeply to destroy larvae in earl spring. Treat plants with Sevin, pyrethrum, or rotenone.

• Leaves partially eaten; leaves webbed together; eggs in rows on undersides of leaves. Cabbage webworms are green with a light stripe to ¾ inches long; the webworm is the larvae of a brownish yellow moth with gray markings. Larvae spin light webs. Clip off and destroy webbed leaves. Destroy caterpillars. Keep garden weed free.

• Leaves are eaten and plants are partially defoliated. Blister beetles are slender gray or metallic black beetles to ¾-inch long; they may have striped spots on their wings. Handpick beetles and destroy. Keep the garden weeds and debris. Cultivate in spring to kill larvae and interrupt the life cycle. Spray or dust with Sevin or use a pyrethrum or rotenone spray.

• Large holes in leaves; leaves skeletonized. Cabbage loopers or armyworms. (1) Cabbage looper is a light green caterpillar with yellow stripes running down the back; it loops as it walks. Keep garden clean of debris where adult brownish night-flying moth can lay eggs. Cover plants with spun polyester to exclude moths. Pick loppers off by hand. Use Bacillus thuringiensis. Dust with Sevin or rotenone. (2) Armyworms are dark green caterpillars the larvae of a mottled gray moth with a wingspan of 1½ inches. Armyworms mass and eat leaves, stems, and roots of many crops. Armyworms will live inside webs on leaves. Handpick caterpillars and destroy. Cultivate after harvest to expose the pupae. Use commercial traps with floral lures.

• Leaves are chewed and slimed. Snails and slugs eat leaves. Collect these pests at night. Set beer traps at soil level to attract and drown snails and slugs.

• Leaves chewed; tunnels inside cabbage and cauliflower heads. Imported cabbage worm is a pale green caterpillar with yellow stripes to about 1¼ inches long; the adult is a white moth with two or three black spots on the forewing. Use Bacillus thuringiensis. Destroy all remains and weeds after harvest. Companion plant with mint. Encourage the predatory trichogramma wasp.

• Leaves and head become pale green; leaves wilt; slimy rot develops. Bacterial soft rot is caused by Erwinia bacteria. Water-soaked spots appear on leaves and roots; spots enlarge and turn dark and mushy. Black ooze develops in cracks in roots and stems. Rot can not be cured. Collect and burn infected plants Promote good drainage by adding aged compost and organic materials to planting beds. Avoid over-head watering. Rotate crops.

• Scorched leaf margins. Molybdenum deficiency in very acid soil. Test soil. Apply lime to produce a neutral soil, pH 6.0 to 7.0. Add about ½ ounce of ammonium molybdate per 500 square feet. Plant resistant varieties: Snowball X, Snowdrift, or Snowball Y.

• Curds gradually turn brown. Boron deficiency, often found in alkaline soils. Test soil. If deficient, add ½ ounce of borax per 24 square yards.

• Heads are loose and yellowish. Too much sun. Lift and tie leaves over the developing heads. Grow plants so that they mature in the cool, moist weather of autumn.

Cauliflower Growing Success Tips:

Planting. Grow cauliflower in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Plant cauliflower in full sun in cool regions; where the weather is warm plant cauliflower in afternoon shade. Start cauliflower indoors and transplant it out into the garden about 4 to 5 weeks after seedlings emerge. Seedlings started indoors in early spring should be hardened off before they go into the garden; set seedlings outside for a few hours each day for a week or so before transplanting them out.

Planting time. Cauliflower grows best in cool weather. Transplants can be set in the garden as early as 1 to 2 weeks before the average last frost date in spring; set cauliflower in the garden when the soil temperature has warmed to 55°F and daytime temperatures average in the 50°s and 60°sF. If spring weather warms too quickly, spring planted cauliflower may bolt and flower prematurely. A summer-planted fall crop is a safer bet: sow cauliflower in the garden about 75 days before the average first frost date in autumn. Mulch summer-planted cauliflower to help keep the soil evenly moist and cool. Where winter temperatures stay mild, cauliflower can planted in autumn and grown through the winter for spring harvest.

Care. Keep cauliflower evenly moist; do not let the soil dry out. Side dress cauliflower with compost tea every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season. Mulch cauliflower beds to keep the soil cool and conserve soil moisture.

Harvest. Cut cauliflower heads before they get too big, when they are about 6 inches across, slightly larger than a softball.

More tips: How to Grow Cauliflower.

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82 Comments

  1. can you please tell me why my cauliflower leaves and stems are fast growing but there is no cauliflower heads appearing, i planted the seedlings about 4 months ago.

  2. Cauliflower not heading: there are several things to consider. First off, cauliflower is sensitive: to high temperatures, to low temperatures, to water stress, and to nutrient stress. That just about covers it. Any stess will result in poor curd formation. A good strategy for growing cauliflower is to grow several different varieties and then stick with the varieties that perform best in your region. Choose a variety that matures quickly and then a couple of others you’d like to try. Grow cauliflower in rich, organic soil–add compost to your garden twice a year and to each planting hole when setting out cauliflower starts. Check the soil moisture often–water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Be careful not to fertilize cauliflower with too much nitrogen (same for any flowering or fruiting vegetable–too much nitrogen will result in green leafy growth). Feed cauliflower with a dilute kelp or fish emulsion. Finally, control the weather (ok, maybe not): extremes in temperatures warm or cold can cause cauliflower to bolt (premature flowering), to button (to form tiny heads), or ricy curds (separation of heads). You can’t control the weather, but you can start a few plants every week with the hope that at least one or two will get the right weather conditions for success. For this season and with four months invested in the crop, re-check the days to maturity for the variety you have planted and hang on a bit longer; if you are within a few weeks of maturity date (again weather can stretch the days to maturity) you may still see heads. If not, try again next season experimenting with several varieties or check to see which varieties gardeners in your area have found successful.

  3. Hi!

    I have been growing my first batch of Romensco Cauliflower for the past 6 or so weeks. Four of the plants developed great fractal heads that seemed very firm and tightly formed. Two of the plants however developed what looked like a purple fungus on them and separated into small loose misshapen florets and so I pulled these up and threw them out. The others seemed fine until about a week later when the same thing happened to them. They have now lost the fractal shape, grown the purple colored fungus and separated into florets. Looking at your, and a number of other sites, I can’t seem to find a trouble shooting reference for this issue I am having. Would love your input! Thank you! SF

    • Purplish lesions on cauliflower may be the first stage of white downy fungus. Plants die rapidly soon after contracting the disease. If you catch it early enough, you can fight the infection with a copper-based fungicide. Use the fungicide every 7 days and spray the surrounding plants as well until harvest. Remove and destroy infected plants. Downy mildew seems to get started during the time of the year when nights are damp and cool and days are warm. The fungus spores can live on in the soil for three years so you may want to rotate out cabbage-family plants next year, and you may want to plant in autumn to avoid spring weather which may be conducive to white downy fungus growth. (As well, the separation of the florets may indicate that the weather simply warmed up too soon before harvest–cauliflower and cabbage family crops want to come to harvest in cool weather–not much warmer than 65F.)

    • The description sounds like sclerotia rot–a fungal mold, sometimes called white mold–which attacks cabbage family crops including cauliflower. Air circulation is essential–plant rows so that the prevailing breeze flows down the rows and around the plants. Avoid overhead watering and allow planting bed to almost dry out between watering. Remove infected plants from the garden. Also keep weeds down around the garden, especially in the fall and winter–that is where mold spores will overwinter. Plant resistant varieties.

    • For the best flavor, harvest carrots within 2 or 3 days of the time they color up–don’t wait to harvest. Also for great flavor, sow carrots so that they mature in the fall when the days are still sunny but the nights are cool. It is also important to avoid too much nitrogen in the planting bed.

    • Cauliflower will not head well if it is stressed. Cauliflower wants moderate temperatures (60sF) during head development. Keep the soil evenly moist–not too wet and don’t let it dry out. It’s best to fertilize with aged compost–adding it to the soil before planting and using it as a side-dressing afterwards. Too much nitrogen can lead to poor head formation, so if you use a prepared fertilizer 5-10-10 would be best.

  4. Why is it this year at this time I cannot find cauliflower anywhere not even frozen. The man in the produce told us that they have had a hard time getting it since Thanksgiving

    • Growing cauliflower requires consistently cool weather. Much of the cauliflower grown in the United States is grown in coastal regions of California–the Salinas Valley and near Santa Maria. In the winter some cauliflower is grown in Arizona around Yuma. When temperatures grow to warm or when there is not enough water to keep crops growing, we can expect interruptions in cauliflower production. Ask your produce person where the cauliflower he sells is grown.

    • Large holes in cauliflower leaves are likely caused by caterpillars. Use a neem oil or horticultural oil to control caterpillars. Rodents, rabbits, and birds may also take bites out of cauliflower leaves. Exclude large pests by covering your plants with bird netting.

  5. This is the first time that I’ve tried growing cauliflower, I planted six plants, i’ve read that you should cover the heads once they appear with the larger outer leaves, a few of the plants don’t have large leaves that i can cover. Any suggestions would be very helpful.

    • To preserve the white color of the curd, secure outside leaves over the head with garden twine when the head is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. If the leaves will not cover the head, place a paper bag over the head and secure it with twine or string.

    • Leafy green growth can be caused by soil too rich in nitrogen. Use an organic fertilizer with greater percentages of phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen. Cauliflower needs two months of cool weather to produce heads; temperatures too warm can cause plants to not head.

    • Whiteflies may be attacking your cauliflower plants. These flying insects are just 1/10-inch long and powdery white. You can spray the plants with an insecticidal soap or neem or you can spray them off the plant with a strong stream of water–but you may have to do this several times to control the pest population.

  6. my cauliflower is kinda purple and growing weird… not a white ball more like sporatic stocks of flower growing taller.. this is the first year they look like this. they are in a 50/50 sun/shade space with my broccoli , cabbage and brussel sprouts.

    • Do you mean the heads are purple? If so, you need to cover the heads so that they are not exposed to sunlight–this is called blanching. You can cover the developing head with leaves and pin then in place with a clothespin. Many varieties of cauliflower are genetically purple, red, or blue pigmentation. Too much direct sunlight will cause heads to get a purplish tinge along the edges of the heads. You can still eat these head but the taste might not be just right and cooking can only increase the off flavor; so eat them raw.

  7. My cauliflower heads grow well until they are about 10cm in diameter. The florets then seem to separate and become long and stringy. What can I do?

    • Uneven cauliflower heads–gaps between the curds–can be caused by uneven water uptake–the soil drys then gets soaked. Keep the soil evenly moist, watering as soon as the top inch or so is dry. Uneven heads can still be used. Keep an eye on the plants every day once heads form. A heat spell can also cause curds to separate–temperatures higher than 85F.

  8. Like Jodi, I have the same problem. My plants are on raised flats. the plants are green and healthy. but are
    12″ or higher. no head yet. what if I cut them from top
    would that promote heading?

    • Cauliflower is very particular about its growing temperature–optimal temperatures are in the mid 60sF to low 70sF; too warm or too cold and head may not form. If you cut the growing tip–at the top of the plant, new growing tips will emerge, but if heads form there they will be smaller than if the main growing tip produces a head. Give the plants a 5-10-10 organic fertilizer–do not give them high nitrogen. You can also side dress with compost tea.

    • Yes, black mold can grow in cauliflower heads. It may also be collected dust that will wash away. One solution is to draw up leaves surrounding newly formed heads and tie or use a rubberband to hold the leaves in place to protect the white flowerhead from moisture which can lead to mold growth. You may be able to slice away the black mold and still cook the cauliflower.

  9. 4 of my cauliflowers are perfect and just about ready for harvest, the other 8 are supersized plants with no curds. We’re experiencing regulqr frosts (in SW France already), should I cut my losses and get some good compost greens, or could anything possibly happen through winter.

    • Large cauliflower plants with no heads is likely caused by excess nitrogen; if you used fertilizer on the plants this season check to see what the NPK ratio was and if it was high in nitrogen (10 or greater); use a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 next season. Hot or dry weather during the growing time also could have resulted in no heading. But you got 4 heads out of 12 and considering cauliflower is very finicky count the season a success. It is unlikely the plants will head following frost, but if you are not in a hurry to clear the planting bed let them sit for another 3 or 4 weeks and see if anything develops. If weather is cold and staying cold, go ahead and compost the plants.

  10. I planted cauliflower and broccoli seedlings a week ago and after a few days the top of the plants & leaves have all been removed. Would this be more likely a rodent, bird or rabbit. Can’t see any footprints and I have sprayed pyrethrum. All plants now only have a small stem left. Will they still grow or do I have to pull them out and start new. And invest in netting to stop it happening again.

    • The young broccoli and cauliflower seedlings were likely stripped of their leaves by earwigs, snails, slugs, or perhaps cutworms. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the seedlings as a barrier to these pests. You can also place a paper or styrofoam cup around each seedling (remove the bottom of the cup) this will also act as a barrier. If you suspect birds, place a floating row cover of horticultural cloth over the planting bed and tuck and edges into the soil; you can lift the cover to water. Once plants are 6 inches or so tall birds will leave them alone. If you suspect rodents or rabbits, sprinkle a garlic or pepper repellant around the plants.

  11. A bunny got into my garden and decided to eat all the leafs off of my cauliflower plants. I can see the tiny little heads starting to show. What can I do to cover the heads to protect them from the sun since there are no leafs to tie around the head?

    • Place a floating row cover over the plants to give them some shade; you might be able to fashion some “paper bag leaves” and clothespins to cover the developing heads.

    • Cauliflower is very sensitive to its environment. Extreme cold, heat, or drought, can result in malformation of the head, or curd. If the curds are loose or sending up sprouts between the curds, the problem is likely weather too warm (cauliflower likes cool temperatures–not much warmer than 70F). Make sure your plants are getting consistent moisture and are not going drying. You can put shade cloth over the planting bed to shield plants from midday sun and heat. Make sure there is ample room between plants; do not plant cauliflower close to one another. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers which can cause sprouts to spring up. The curd of your cauliflower will still be edible.

    • The browning of cauliflower curds is caused by oxidation–exposure to air. This is a natural occurrence. Keep the cauliflower heads unwashed and uncut until you are ready to use them. Wash and cut just before you serve. Store the heads curd (or crown) side down in a perforated or unsealed plastic bag; they should keep for five days. Use them fresh cut within five days. If you are not going to use the cauliflower within five days blanch and freeze. Cut the head into 1-inch sections and then add the pieces to boiling water with salt and few tablespoons of lemon juice; boil for 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, and dunk them in ice water for a minute to cool; let the pieces drain in a colander thoroughly before freezing. In the garden, before harvest, lift leaves over the head to cover the curds and use a clothespin to keep the leaves in place so the curds are not exposed to sunlight–which also can cause mature curds to brown.

      • I planted cauliflower seeds in the greenhouse then transplanted them outdoors, after 30 days they started to develop heads. The label says they are Arizona F1, but I think they are not. What should I do to delay head development? They are too small to be growing heads.

        • Cauliflower is very sensitive to environmental conditions including temperature, water, and nitrogen in the soil. Buttoning is the term for early curd development in cauliflower. It is caused by stress. The optimal temperature for growing cauliflower is in the 50s and 60F. Buttons can develop if the temperature is too high (greater than 80F) or too low (below 50F). Buttons can develop if plant roots do not stay just moist–if they become dry. Cool temperatures and a moist atmosphere are most favorable for cauliflower curd (head) development. Lack of leaves on seedlings at transplant time can cause buttoning (lack of leaves may be due to lack of nitrogen in the soil). The age of the plant is also a factor in curd development; seedlings that are too old at the time of transplanting and seedlings that have not developed leaves to support the head (lack of nitrogen in the soil) can result in a higher frequency of buttoning. Once buttoning occurs there is little that can be done to reverse the natural progression of head development–even if the head will be small. Sidedress the plants with a low nitrogen fertilizer to encourage leaf development; harvest the small heads before the curds begin to separate.

      • My cauliflower is about 3″ tall but at the soil line, the stem is thin and loose, curling to the side and then growing fine. All the leaves and the stems are healthy except for the strange curve at the soil line. The roots seem strong but when a breeze blows, the whole top moves. I’ve tried planting it deeper but it does the same thing. What is the underlying issue? I’m stupefied.

        Thanks!

        • The curling cauliflower stem is unusual but not unheard of. You can mound soil up around the exposed stem, but more importantly, you might want to give the plant some support by place 2 or 3 stakes around the plant and tying it in with horticultural tape. This will keep it from being blown over by the wind. Alternatively, you can erect a windbreak to protect the plant.

  12. We bought broccoli plants at the garden center, but they must’ve been mismarked. We have small green cauliflower heads growing on my ‘broccoli’ plants!.
    I thought cauliflower started out white, and had to be covered in order to remain white.
    Is the green just a different variety, or is this how they start out?
    If it is a green variety, do I still need to cover the heads?
    Thank you!

    • You may have a plant called broccoflower which is a variant of cauliflower with a green head. Young cauliflower heads– called “buttons” are white. Broccoflower or green cauliflower heads do not need to be covered unless you want to protect them from rain or wind. White cauliflower heads are covered to blanch the florets snow white.

  13. I live in South Florida and I bought my cauliflower from Home Depot. I planted them about 4 months ago and they started producing but the one that produced first the cauliflower started to separate but it was a reddish color on top of the cauliflower. Why is that and is it okay to cut down now and eat?

    • Cauliflower curd separation occurs when temperatures grow too warm and the plant begins to flower. The curds will open and become florets. Once separation begins the cauliflower head will lose tenderness and also sweetness; it will become tough and bitter. The reddish color may be a fungal infection. At this point, the plant is best sent to the compost pile. Cauliflower heads can be eaten quite small–the size of a tennis ball. Keep this in mind for next season and harvest before the weather warms.

  14. Hi Steve,
    I have a problem… I don’t think I gave enough room per plant. Each plant came from a seedling tray, 3 weeks, now in the ground 1 month… can I move them?
    Thank you for being here for new trying to garden people like me!

    • You can still move the seedlings if it is not more than 6 or 8 inches tall. Prepare the new planting hole then use a trowel to left each plant making sure you keep the root ball intact with plenty of soil around the roots as you move the plant. Give each plant a dilute solution of B1 transfer vitamin.

    • It will be difficult for the plant to continue if all of the leaves are gone; if you don’t need the space for another crop, leave it be; but the prognosis is not good.

  15. Hi I planted some cauliflower seedlings in early winter and it has been cold and rainy. The seedlings are under white shade cloth to protect from frosts. I did give the seedlings some liquid fertiliser a couple of times. The leaves have now got yellow blotches on them. Not sure if it is because of overwater or cold or too much fertiliser?

    • Yes, yes, and yes; you have offered all of the possible diagnoses for the problem of yellowing leaves. Pull back on watering, don’t fee the plant again, and continue to protect it from cold. If the damage is not severe the plant will recover.

    • Cauliflowers can have multiple heads. If you want a single head, remove the smaller side heads. Or, you can leave all on the plant and they will grow to harvest–however, the heads will be smaller when there are two or more on a plant.

  16. I have planted a transplant cauliflower in my first (project) time, I saw the head flower was started within 2 weeks but it smaller than Orange. My experience was failed.

  17. Hello! I planted 2 cauliflower plants last fall. I harvested one a while ago, but the other one never got a head on it. The one I harvested was really small and had a loose curd to it. I live in Southern CA and we had a lot of big temperature jumps so I assumed that was the main culprit for the loose curd and the lack of developing on the headless one. I kept the one that didn’t work a head in my garden to harvest leaves from here and there to cook with. This past week I noticed now that it has a tiny head forming. It is supposed to be white cauliflower, but it is growing in a light green color. It’s self blanching and I had to pull the leaves back to see it so I don’t think it’s the sun turning it green. The leaves are healthy looking and the ones that cover it, cover it completely. What could be wrong with it? Is it safe to eat since it should have come to a head a couple months ago? I’ve never grown cauliflower before so this is all new to me! I posted a link to a Dropbox folder with a few pictures of the cauliflower in it.

  18. I’m new to growing cauliflower, but my plants grew strong, tall, dark green, healthy & produced tight white heads, which are currently about 2-4” in diameter. I started noticing a few leaves at the bottom of the stalk turning yellow & plucked them off. In the last couple of weeks I noticed a lot more turning yellow or turning brown on the ends & curling up, then what appears as something eating the leaves. Now I’ve noticed black, round balls on the leaves & tops of the heads. I don’t see any bugs, but did spray my plants with a bug spray. Obviously, I have some kind of infestation, but was wondering if I should remove all the infected leaves, spray my heads to remove the balls, & cover the heads with something else to protect them – or can they still be saved?

    • If the black spots easily wash away, it is likely insect droppings. Get an organic pesticide. If the spots are in the curd of the flower head then it could be Alternaria leaf spot, a fungal disease that can spread; you try an organic fungicide. Lower leaves commonly die back first; if all leaves are yellowing, make sure the soil is staying just moist–not wet. Feed the plants with a dilute solution of fish emulsion of kelp meal.

  19. I LOVE cauliflower! I Growing it is fun but eating it is better! We cook it in a stone pan with a little montreal steak spice! It’s a true staple of our gardening efforts for landscaping st catharines!

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