Can I grow cauliflower, from seed to harvest, indoors? Yes, you absolutely can. It may not grow quite as large as you might get outdoors, but it will still be decent size, and worth it!
Cauliflower scored a “B-” on our “indoor-garden feasibility” scale, just like it’s cousin, broccoli. Cauliflower was actually fairly easy to grow in the indoor garden, despite warnings that it wouldn’t form heads at the warmer temperatures in my garden. However, like broccoli, it did take up a lot of space relative to the amount of food you get from one cauliflower plant, hence the rather low score. Here is the Tub to Table guide to growing Cauliflower, from seed to harvest, indoors.
- Botanical name – Brassica oleracea.
- Sun exposure – Full sun.
- Soil type and pH – loamy, slightly acidic to neutral
- Light period* – 12 – 14 hours of light
- Water – Keep soil moist but not wet.
- Weeks to maturity – About 9-10 weeks to harvest.
- Health benefits – Cauliflower is a rich source of Vitamin C, and has moderate levels of several B vitamins and Vitamin K.
- Favorite varieties – Snow Crown Hybrid, Amazing (takes a bit longer, 10 -12 weeks)
Broccoli and cauliflower, from a growing perspective, are pretty similar. They are both part of the Brassicaceae family (which also includes cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale). They both took up quite a bit of room but both were fairly easy to grow. Like broccoli, I would recommend spacing them out quite a bit because if they are planted too close, they will shade each other’s leaves. I would recommend no more than four plants in one 20 gallon bin, or at least 8-10″ apart. I usually try to pack my stuff in, but the cauliflower crop needs the room.
Cauliflower is typically a finicky crop. It needs rich soil and does best in cooler temperatures of 60 degrees consistently. So, I wasn’t sure this would grow in my warmer indoor garden where temperatures are consistently 70 degrees during the day and only goes down to about 55 degrees at night. I didn’t want to turn down the temperature for the whole room, and it is hard to make a microclimate within the grow room, so we just went for it. As you can see in the picture, the cauliflower grew fine, and to a nice size. But there is some slight purple discoloration on the underside of the cauliflower on the right which is a sign of stress. Ultimately, that doesn’t affect the taste.
Speaking of colorful, cauliflower can be all sorts of different colors, from the traditional white varieties which I have grown indoors, to orange “Cheddar” or “Flame star” varieties that are said to be sweeter and creamier. There are also lime green romanesco varieties with heads that look like fractals and even dark purple varieties such as “Graffiti“. Even though it’s not the biggest bang for your buck food-wise, it sure makes for an interesting crop to grow.
For all the room the cauliflower takes up, you only get one little side dish out of it every 8 -10 weeks. So this vegetable isn’t a power producer and isn’t going on the “survival garden seed schedule“. And unlike broccoli, you don’t typically get offshoots where you can get a secondary harvest. So pretty much when your’e ready to harvest the cauliflower, you might as well dig up the whole plant and enjoy the new room to grow another crop.
Do your best to water the cauliflower from below such as with self-watering bins. Or, only water the base of the plant as any water on the head of the broccoli can cause it to mold.
Harvest the cauliflower when the heads are compact white and firm, or when it’s about 6 inches across. It’s typically recommended that you then soak the cauliflower in salt water for about 20-30 minutes to get rid of any cabbage worms. But that is one of the major perks of the indoor garden, you shouldn’t have any cabbage worms at all!
Verdict – B-. Cauliflower is a good crop to grow indoors, but it does take a lot of room for a fairly small harvest.
We’ve discussed how to grow it indoors, now here’s how to get it to your table!
Indian cuisine does some amazing things with vegetables and with cauliflower in particular. One of my favorite vegetarian cooking sites is Veg Recipes of India. This recipe is adapted from her “Gobi Masala” (Gobi = cauliflower).
Cauliflower MasalaCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium
1 large (or 2 small) cauliflower heads, chopped into florets
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced ginger
3 Tbsp whole cashews, divided
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
4 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1 – 1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup cream
Pinch of nutmeg
- Fill a medium pot with 3 cups of salted water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add cauliflower. Cover and set aside.
- Meanwhile, place tomatoes, 2 Tbsp cashews, and 1/2 cup water in a blender and blend on high until it forms a paste.
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a wok on medium-low until shimmering. Drain caulflower well and add to wok. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, until cauliflower starts browning. Remove from wok and set aside.
- Add remaining oil to wok and heat until shimmering. Add bay leaf and caraway seeds until aromatic, 30 seconds.
- Add onions and sauté until lightly golden.
- Add ginger and garlic and sauté until aromatic, 30 seconds.
- Stir in tomato-cashew paste. Add coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, garam masala and turmeric.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until masala paste starts to form a thick paste and oil starts to separate, 12-14 minutes.
- Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt. Whisk in water as necessary to create a medium gravy.
- Return wok to medium heat and add cauliflower. Salt to taste.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender, 10-15 minutes. Add water as necessary.
- Stir in cream and nutmeg. Serve immediately with rice or naan.
- Adapted from Veg Recipes of India