How to Harvest Cauliflower

Isn’t roasted cauliflower one of the best recipes ever?

Raw cauliflower transforms into golden, caramelized deliciousness in the oven.

And if you are into growing your food, you may want to consider growing your own cauliflower.

Part of the growing process would also imply you should learn how to harvest cauliflower properly.

Contrary to what you may think, growing your own fruits and veggies is fun, and cauliflower sounds like a great choice to start with.

In addition, cauliflower is an extremely healthy vegetable that’s a significant source of nutrients.

It also contains unique plant compounds that may reduce the risk of several diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

And though it may seem to sound a little intimidating at first, especially if you are new to growing your own plants, you have nothing to worry about.

Harvesting involves a relatively simple process; with the right guide and equipment, you’ll soon become a pro at how to harvest cauliflower the right way.

How to Harvest Cauliflower FAQs

How to plant cauliflower?

  • The soil must be very rich in organic matter; mix aged, mature, and/or compost into the bed.
  • Cauliflower also needs extra nutrients. Apply 5-10-10 fertilizers. Fertile soil holds in moisture to prevent heads from “buttoning.”
  • It is best to start cauliflower from small nursery plants versus sowing seeds.
  • Transplant seedlings (or small nursery plants) 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date, no sooner and not much later.
  • Set plants 18 to 24 inches apart with 30 inches between rows.
  • In early spring, be ready to protect plants from frost by covering them with old milk jugs, if necessary. Extreme cold can halt growth and/or form buttons.
  • Plant a fall crop 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost date, but after daytime, temperatures are regularly below 75°F. Shade plants from heat, if necessary.
  • Add mulch to conserve moisture.

How to care for cauliflower plants?

  • Cauliflower dislikes any interruption to its growth.
  • Water regularly with 2 inches of water each week; even with average rainfall, this usually requires supplemental watering.
  • Note that the cauliflower will start as a loosehead and that it takes time for the head to form fully.
  • When the curd (the white head) is 2 to 3 inches in diameter, blanch it: Tie the outer leaves together over the head and secure it with a rubber band, tape, or twine to keep light out.
  • The plants are usually ready for harvest 7 to 12 days after blanching.
  • Brown heads indicate a boron deficiency in the soil. Drench with one tablespoon of borax in 1 gallon of water.

How to blanch cauliflower before harvest?

  • When heads are 2 to 3 inches in diameter, about the size of an egg, lift the outer leaves over the head and tie them together with a piece of twine; this will blanch the head, ensuring that it is white at harvest. When heads are blanched pure white, they are ready for harvest.
  • From the time you tie the leaves and begin the blanching process, cauliflower heads (also called curds and buttons) will be ready for harvest in about four days if the weather is warm and about ten days if the weather is cool.
  • Check heads daily to ensure they are smooth, tight, and hard.
  • Allow the heads to continue to grow as long as they stay compact; an ideal head will be 6 to 8 inches across.

Does cauliflower grow back after harvesting?

Once the heads of the cauliflower plant have been harvested, it will no longer develop any new, edible heads and can either be pulled up and discarded or left in the soil to produce seed.

How do I know if my cauliflower is ready to pick?

  • Cauliflower heads should reach 6 to 8 inches in diameter before they are ready to harvest.
  • The heads should be compact and firm. Heads may be smaller but already opening up and should, therefore, still be harvested. Course texture means the plant is over mature and should be pitched.
  • Harvest cauliflower when heads are 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) in diameter but still compact and smooth.
  • The cauliflower head is a collection of flower buds; harvest the head while it is white and before the yellow buds open. Cauliflower loses its flavor and texture when the buds loosen.
  • When curds begin to loosen, separate, and open, harvest immediately. When curds fully loosen, the head is called “ricey” and is unsuitable for eating.

How many heads of cauliflower do you get from one plant?

Cauliflower plants will produce one head per plant that will typically weigh between 11 and 18 oz and have a diameter of 4 to 7 inches.

Once the Cauliflower has been picked, you can induce the cauliflower plant to create secondary heads by removing the plant’s leaves.

How do you pick homegrown cauliflower?

Keep in mind that heads will be ready to pick from 90 to 120 days, depending on the variety, but keep a close eye on what the head is doing. If it is large and has a tight curd, without flower buds starting to burst, it’s time to pick.

How to store cauliflower?

Wrap unwashed cauliflower in a damp cloth or paper towel and put it in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper drawer to maintain humidity. Cauliflower will keep in the fridge for two to four weeks.


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How to freeze cauliflower?

  1. For long-term storage, you can also freeze or pickle the heads. To freeze, cut into 1-inch-bite pieces.
  2. Blanch for 3 minutes in lightly salted water.
  3. Cool in an ice bath for 3 minutes, drain, and package.
  4. Seal and freeze.

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How to Harvest Cauliflower

  1. Plants are usually ready to harvest in about 50 to 100 days, depending on variety, or 7 to 12 days after blanching.
  2. When the heads are compact, white, and firm, then it is time to harvest them. Ideally, the heads will grow to 6 to 8 inches in diameter.
  3. Cut the heads off the plant with a large knife. Be sure to leave some of the leaves around the head to keep it protected.
  4. If the heads are too small but have already started to open up, they will not improve and should be harvested immediately.
  5. If the cauliflower has a coarse appearance, it is past maturity and should be tossed.

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Additional Tips on How to Harvest Cauliflower

Since cauliflower is a cold-weather crop, you should grow it in a cool season, depending on your area’s climate. The optimal growing season for cauliflower depends on your climate.

  • Healthy cauliflower grows one large head in the center of the plant. When the head of your cauliflower is compact and sizable, it is are ready for harvest.
  • Avoid harvesting cauliflower too early before the head is entirely white. Also, avoid waiting to harvest until the head of the cauliflower spreads out.
  • Your cauliflower will taste bitter and tough if you harvest them before or after they are ready.
  • If you see a flower emerging from the plant, you’ve waited too long to harvest.
  • To harvest your cauliflower, cut at a 45-degree angle close to the bottom of the plant.
  • The plant will continue to grow small cauliflower heads where you make your cut. You can harvest these, as well.

How To Harvest Cauliflower Video Tutorial

Photo of author
Joe Farmer, The harvesting guy is all about fresh produce and enjoying the harvest all year round. He's got tips and tricks for backyard harvesting and is always up for sharing his love of homegrown food. When he's not in the garden, you can find him out on the hiking trail or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.
Photo of author
Joe Farmer, The harvesting guy is all about fresh produce and enjoying the harvest all year round. He's got tips and tricks for backyard harvesting and is always up for sharing his love of homegrown food. When he's not in the garden, you can find him out on the hiking trail or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.