Early Cauliflower - Knowledgebase Question

Belle Vernon, PA
Question by jbkst6
March 3, 1998
How early can I really plant cauliflower outside? They always say in early spring, as soon as soil can be worked. Well, I live in zone 5 and as of March 1 my soil is already workable. My transplants are about 6 inches tall and have about 5 or 6 true leaves. Can I put them out yet?


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Answer from NGA
March 3, 1998

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El Nino certainly has made for interesting weather this winter! I hope he calms down by summertime! Since the weather has been erratic, I hesitate to recommend planting your cauliflower now. But since cauliflower actually performs best as a fall crop (great news, since you have a bunch of transplants ready to go!), you can at least experiment with your spring crop, and have plenty of time to try for a second round in fall. Also, don't plant them in cold soil. Wait for soil to warm up to around 55F.

The trouble gardeners find with spring planting is that variable temperatures early on can cause cauliflower to bolt. You can reduce the chance of bolting by keeping soil moisture and temperatures consistent with the use of mulch. If El Nino decidesto throw a more extreme heat or cold front our way, use either shade cloth or a polyester row cover to reduce the effects.

At any rate, sow seeds for fall planting about 2-1/2 months before your last fall frost - and hopefully at least that will be predictable this year! Good Luck!

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