Snowball Self Blanching Cauliflower
Seed Count: Approx. 100 seeds
Days to Maturity: 68 days
Description: Snowball Self Blanching Cauliflower is a classic heirloom variety that produces delicious, large, 6-8 inch, pure white heads of cauliflower. Just as the name indicates, its leaves tightly curl, and will self wrap around the heads when colder weather arrives, which self blanches them for you, so you don't have to worry about wrapping each head individually to protect them from the sun. Its flavor is mild and tasty, boasting that classic cauliflower goodness, both raw and cooked. It can be used for a multitude of healthy main courses, appetizers, and snacks, but I personally love making curried cauliflower, or cauliflower tacos. I normally can't grow full heads in South Florida, since I don't get too many cool days here, depending on the year, but I do enjoy growing these for their tasty greens, which I use just like kale or collard greens.
How To Grow
Sowing: Cauliflower grows best in cool weather, so starting your seeds indoors, 5-6 weeks before the last expected frost, will ensure a faster more successful crop. Right before the last frost, and when the seedlings reach about 6 inches tall, plant them 1-2' apart in rows 2-3' apart. For direct sowing seeds, plant them 1" deep and 3" apart with full sun exposure and rich soil, about 2-3 weeks before the last expected spring frost. Seed germination can take place with temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. For fall planting, direct sow your seeds in late July or August. I've also successfully grown cauliflower in 5 gallon fabric pots, with garlic and onions at its base. However, grown in containers, they may need additional support to keep them upright. Cauliflower can be grown in warmer climates, if sown as a fall crop, if sown in the spring you may end up with tiny heads like I did. For companion planting benefits, plant with onions, garlic, herbs, or potatoes; avoid planting it with tomatoes or pole beans.
Growing: Keep the young plants watered and remove any weeds you see. Mulch helps discourage weeds and regulate soil temperature, which is important in warmer climates. Several applications of fertilizer or compost may also be needed during its growth cycle. If several nights of below freezing temperatures are expected, you add a protective cover for your plants. If they become too top heavy as they grow, provide a stake for support.
Harvesting: Harvest the main head while it is still tight, and before the florets begin spread apart and open. The heads should be bright white, firm, and heavy. Store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Allowing cauliflower to produce seed will take an entire growing season, and may require digging up the plants for the winter or mulching them well, if you're in a warmer climate. It will cross pollinate with other members of the cabbage family such as broccoli, and isolation is recommended to prevent cross breeding. Once the flowers have bloomed and produced seed pods, let them dry and carefully remove them from the plant (they split open very easily). Separate the seeds from the pods, and store in a dry, cool place for up to five years.