Cauliflower is related to broccoli and cabbage (all members of genus Brassica) and has similar cultural needs, but it is less tolerant of heat and harder to grow. Time plantings so plants mature either well before or well after summer heat; early-maturing or heat-tolerant types are your best bets. 'Snow Crown' and 'Early Snowball' (5060 days from setting out plants until harvest) are popular early cauliflowers. Heat-tolerant kinds include 'Fremont' (62 days), 'Bishop' (65 days), and 'Amazing' (75 days). Romanesco types have cone-shaped heads of lime-green florets with fine flavor. There is also a passel of selections with colored heads: 'Cheddar' (orange, 68 days), 'Graffiti' (purple, 80 days), and 'Panther' (green, 70 days).
Start with small plants; set them 1122 feet apart in rows spaced 3 feet apart. Keep plants actively growing, as any check during transplanting or later growth is likely to cause premature setting of undersized heads. At planting, feed with water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer; 3 weeks after planting, sprinkle 12 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 10 feet of row around plants. When heads first appear, tie up the large leaves around them to keep them white. On self- blanching types, leaves curl over heads without assistance. Harvest heads as soon as they reach full size. Most kinds are ready 50 to 100 days after transplanting; overwintering types may take 6 months.
To prevent a buildup of soil-borne pests, plant cauliflower in a different site each year. Club root is a serious fungal pest in acid soils; apply lime, if necessary, to raise the pH to at least 6.5. Floating row covers do a good job of controlling insects such as cabbage loopers, cabbageworms, cutworms, and root maggots. You can also control cutworms and root maggots by ringing the base of the plant with a cardboard collar. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and spinosad applied according to label directions control cabbageworms and loopers.