anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

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JRinPA
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anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#1

Post: # 74071Unread post JRinPA
Sat Jul 16, 2022 10:47 pm

I have been told (at farm stand a few years back when they had a bumper spring crop) that cauliflower is very hit or miss in SE PA as a spring crop but if planted early enough it is a guaranteed fall crop.

This year I got the seeds started fairly early, but the cauliflower got zapped a little bit as seedlings still in soil blocks and under a plastic greenhouse tunnel. The other two,(edit for clarity - other two cole crops being broc and cabb, I started 20 broc 20 caul 10 cabb in a 1020tray) not affected as much it seemed. Then they went in the same raised box, same time, same water. They have had a fair amount of drip irrigation as it is has been dry, and regular BT spray.
The broccoli is in the 2nd round of side shoots. 100% success.
The cabbage are nice bowling balls, 5lb and 7 lb harvested so far, eight more to pick, now it looks like a few 8lb or more up next. 100% success.
The cauliflower...did nothing. I have one head that came out of nowhere about 4 days ago, decent size. The other 15+ plants - still nothing.
The type was "Amazing" which has a good rep.

I am truly wondering what I do wrong with them. Some years I get some, but never 100% good heads. Usually it just seems to me it is too dry or too cold for too long, and then bang it is hot and dry.

But the broccoli and cabbage are very reliable planted same patch same time...is there something extra I should be doing special for them?

Did anyone in this region get a good spring planted cauliflower harvest this year?

The other thing I'm wondering, or more supposing, is that if leave them in, and keep them up with BT for the worms, should they all eventually head after it cools off?
Last edited by JRinPA on Sun Jul 17, 2022 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#2

Post: # 74111Unread post zendog
Sun Jul 17, 2022 9:23 am

There is a guy in our community garden that always gets nice big heads. He just buys what he finds at Home Depot or the like, so I don't know the variety. When he plants he mixes in some 10-10-10 and then he definitely uses a lot of miracle grow, but also composts grass clippings, etc. I think part of the reason he is successful is that he gets them to size up quickly so that they produce in time.

In the same garden, I've had some success, but the heads are relatively small. Broccolli and cabbage have been great.

Is it too late to start some cauliflower seedlings inside for fall? I'm in 7a or 7b just outside DC.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#3

Post: # 74150Unread post JRinPA
Sun Jul 17, 2022 4:27 pm

I was going to start this thread last week, when there were none showing at all. Maybe I jumped the gun, and just expect them 3-4 weeks too early.

We received a heavy then steady 1.5" of rain last night and I was just out looking things over. Just three days back I looked over the cauliflower and there was one big head that came out of nowhere. Today there are three more forming in that row, 2-4" each at this point. So that is a start. Maybe I'm just expecting them too early. I cut the first head, and it is really solid. Just finished steaming, it is very nice, great texture, had almost no worms with the BT regimen.
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I don't fertilize much. In this case the bed is originally from 2016 and gets compost on top and some 10-10-10 raked in each spring, but not in huge amounts, and no starter or anything like I am wont to do with corn or squash.

I have tried fall planting a few times. So far I have not seen superb results, but I am to blame for that. I've usually bought fall seedling packs in August, nothing big, and then I planted in areas I've come to recognize are too shady as the days grow shorter with the lower sun. I have had some success but small heads. This year I have done a better job and have my own seedlings that are looking good now. I plan to put them in the comm garden where there is more southern exposure, and there are two rows open now. I'm at 40.4 degrees here, 6b or 7a. Our typical first frost is mid October, when the blue wing teal seem to disappear overnight.

At the potomac I think you'd have a couple more weeks of equivalent sun so I would sure give them a try. I started mine (broc cabb cauli brussels) a few weeks back on heat mat and lights for a few days, seeds just dropped into a 3/4" hole pushed 1-1/2" deep into the 2" soil block or 72 cell size six pack plastic. Wetted but not covered. Then when they shot up, I squeeze gently or filled in with more potting mix. They don't get as leggy this way. Fusion_power over on the tville explained that method a few years back. I've been impressed with the results this year. After they were up, I soon moved them out back, along the house wall on a rack covered with ag19, sprayed them with BT, and have kept them watered in the heat. They get house shade relief from the sun after noon or so since they are tight against a NE exposure wall. It is actually a pretty good setup for fall starts. They look great to me, compared to what I have bought in the past. I potted up the brussels, they are crazy fast growers!
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What I hate in the fall are these orange/black stink bugs, harlequin bugs. They get on the radish and cole crops. I swore off brussels sprouts a few years back due to the them. But I'm gonna try it again here.
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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#4

Post: # 74161Unread post ponyexpress
Sun Jul 17, 2022 7:29 pm

JRinPA wrote: Sun Jul 17, 2022 4:27 pm

I have tried fall planting a few times. So far I have not seen superb results, but I am to blame for that. I've usually bought fall seedling packs in August, nothing big, and then I planted in areas I've come to recognize are too shady as the days grow shorter with the lower sun.
In the past, I’ve direct seeded my cauliflower. Plant 3-4 seeds per spot and then thin them to 1 when they have 1-2 sets of true leaves. In Mass, I plant the seeds the second week of June. I make little cages for each spot to protect the plants from voles/rabbits until they are bigger.

I harvest the cauliflower in late September/ early October

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#5

Post: # 74184Unread post JRinPA
Sun Jul 17, 2022 11:27 pm

That is good to know. I should get mine in soon, I just want them well buttoned up under fresh AG19 to keep the bugs off, and I wanted some rain first. I don't plan to pick up the tunnel until near harvest, so I'll probably not mix the plant types this time.

How fast do your cauliflower heads develop in the fall? One of the recent years I picked the heads when they were pretty small yet, it just didn't seem like they were growing anymore. Or perhaps a freeze was coming and I decided to pick before it. The biggest cauliflower heads I've gotten have been from a spring planting and summer harvest.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#6

Post: # 76174Unread post JRinPA
Sat Aug 13, 2022 12:20 pm

These spring transplant Amazing cauliflower have been marching along for the last month. Last week I picked three one day that were a little late. One was okay, two were rough but mostly edible. But I believe they would have been fine if picked on time - (estimate) 5 days, 4 days, and 2 days earlier. I waited too long for them to size up, and then forgot about them. That prompted me to cut another head while it was still good, but about medium sized. Now there are four plants left. These beds have had a 30 minute drip in the early morning, each day, since the heat started. No fertilizer since planting.

I am starting to see a few worms get by. BT spray less frequent for me. We now have many of the harlequin bugs (orange stink bugs) that I need to learn a defense against. Mostly the fading broccoli is housing them. The side shoots on that broccoli have been cut six times...it may be time to pull them to let the sweet potatoes thrive this month. Should do that today. There are dozens of bags of broccoli and cauliflower in the freezers and more plants in for the fall over at the comm garden.

Overall it has been a good learning experience. I am quite surprised by the cauliflowers' staggered, yet seemingly eventual harvest. It does reflect what I have experienced with past spring plantings - a partial harvest when I thought they would never head - but I never allowed them to stay in the ground this long. The BT treatment, by stopping the early pest worms, is the main reason I could do it this year. The BT and regular drip tape water delivery.

These are the last four cauliflower that remain. Three have heads formed, the other has a curly spiral of center leaves.
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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#7

Post: # 76175Unread post JRinPA
Sat Aug 13, 2022 12:28 pm

For fall, I have a double row of broccoli/cauliflower and second row of cabbage at the comm garden, tucked under AG19 and getting drip every 3rd evening in this dry. Also a similar row of cabbage. I shared some starts with another comm gardener, but her plants are not covered. She is getting flea beetle damage but other than that they look okay (bt spray once so far from me, I told her what to get). I may double or triple up the AG19 over mine for frost when it gets cold. Plenty of old stuff for that.

I also have 8 brussels sprouts at the head of the 30 ft bed (where spring cauliflower was) that is under cover. They are double row in the center to help the cover protect them. So far I have not seen any harlequin bug, looking through the cover. That was my worry, planting a follow up brassica in the same area. But at least it can be checked easily.

I'll try to update again for fall crop, but I get busy then. Last year I lost a camera and a fall update came in spring...

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#8

Post: # 80605Unread post JRinPA
Sun Oct 16, 2022 2:12 am

I took the row covers off...maybe 3 weeks ago. This pic was 9/30 but I don't know if that was the same day or a couple days later. They were really pushing it. They had been sealed up since July transplant.
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I think I picked the first fall broccoli (green magic) about 2 weeks back. Seems like that long ago, and they have side shoots already. The pics below were heads 3 and 4 on Friday. I might have 8 or 10 plants. It sure tastes good. I have to decide soon whether to pick the heads for the freezer or eat it everyday.
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Also had a lot of lettuce interplanted that went crazy looking for light under that tunnel. That didn't really work...I should hold back from that next year. Maybe spinach instead. The lettuce tastes okay, but it surely didn't head. It may have squeezed out some broccoli and cauliflower leaves, but it sure didn't allow weeds any room to grow.

The bravo cabbage is doing great too. Very few bugs, I'm still using BT at times when it dries off enough. I saw one single head had some bug holes into it. Plenty of rain this fall. The heads look like about 4 lbs each, a couple days ago.

The cauliflower though, double rowed with the broccoli, once again, I'm not seeing any heads yet from that. The leaves are starting to curl up the center. Amazing F1. I hope it hurries up. Still waiting for this guaranteed fall crop.

I had given some starts to another comm gardener. They didn't get covered or anything, though they do have some of my plastic mulch down. There are some very small broccoli heads there. Not sure if the cabbage is heading at all. For the same exact starts, there is a drastic difference in production between that exposed row that got sporadic top water and my agribon tunnel raised rows that got some drip tape water when it was super hot and dry in August.
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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#9

Post: # 80606Unread post JRinPA
Sun Oct 16, 2022 2:30 am

Also, for the harlequin bugs, I planted daikon as cover crop in an unused plot at the comm garden. That seemed to pull all the harlequin bugs to that plot. So far I've seen none on my un-tunneled cole crops.

At the house, I left turnips in a small patch. After pulling the summer broccoli, all the harlequin bugs were concentrated on the turnips. When I uncovered my brussels sprouts, they were bug free. I used a dish of soapy water and cleared off those turnips three days in a row and I haven't seen any harlequin bugs since.

So I guess maybe trap crops combined with row cover over the good crop is the way to go for them.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#10

Post: # 80719Unread post Uncle_Feist
Mon Oct 17, 2022 2:48 am

Finally, someone who knows how to properly fold row cover! @JRinPA

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#11

Post: # 80782Unread post JRinPA
Mon Oct 17, 2022 8:48 pm

Yeah I learned from the best. They called it daisy chaining. I just got done redeploying that for the cool tonight. Supposed to be frost warning T W Th nights. Two heads of broccoli left to cut and then sideshoots from all 8. I noticed some cabbage had damage, two of them near the grass path. At first I thought deer damage or groundhog, when I picking them by flashlight, but now I'm wondering, do cabbage split like this from too much water? Because it has been wet. Rain gauge there was still pegged at 5" overflow. And it almost looks like the sides could match up if pushed back together.

I don't know if they split or what?
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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#12

Post: # 80811Unread post Uncle_Feist
Tue Oct 18, 2022 8:45 am

Cabbage will most definitely split from too much moisture. It's dry here in KY, and I had to stop irrigating the cabbage a few weeks ago. I grow "artost" and it's fairly split resistant but I've still lost a few heads. Broccoli loves the extra moisture though.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#13

Post: # 80850Unread post JRinPA
Tue Oct 18, 2022 10:37 pm

Yep it was indeed just split, ate a lot of that tonight. I'm trying to picture the reason. Does it ever split in warm temps or just when it is cold nights in the fall? I know you said it was the water but I wonder if too much water with plenty of warmth and sun allows it to keep pace and just get bigger in the summer, while in the fall with the lesser energy input, it can't grow fast enough and splits.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#14

Post: # 80856Unread post Uncle_Feist
Wed Oct 19, 2022 6:41 am

For me head splitting is much worse in the summer. I rarely have any split in the fall season. This year I planted a little earlier than normal and my plants endured quite a bit of heat as they were heading. Each year is always a little different, though. I generally like to have my cabbage start maturing in late September and finish mid-late October. Cabbage is hardier than most realize, I continue to harvest even after several deep freezes.

Found this on the Veseys site:
"Heads are ready when firm and when the interior is dense. Heads will split when over mature; rapid growth due to excess moisture and fertility will also cause splitting."

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#15

Post: # 80905Unread post JRinPA
Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:24 pm

Definitely moisture here, still growing and I doubt overfertile. This is the first season (this fall) I've grown cabbage and got decent rainfall.

I hope this cauliflower heads soon, I figure it should it makes it past this little frost spell. Sounds like it will warming up a bit again.

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Re: anyone get good cauliflower this year in mid atlantic?

#16

Post: # 86308Unread post JRinPA
Thu Jan 05, 2023 7:27 pm

Every one of the fall crop Amazing did eventually head under the AG19. About a 4" diameter head on each. I probably should have picked them earlier, as they had some softish spots due to freezing, I think, but it is a tough call because they didn't head for quite a long time. I picked in early or mid December. They were fine to eat after a little cleanup. But boy do they take a long time to head compared to broccoli.

Here's a pic of the Sauerkraut from the fall cabbage, I used a 5 gal bucket and it is spectacular.
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I'm definitely doing the fall cole crops about the same way next year. Spring was good too, so probably do that similar as well.
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