Harvesting Cauliflower: Not for the Squeamish

Harvesting Cauliflower: Not for the Squeamish
Organic Gardening is incredibly rewarding, but there are those moments when you question the amount of work you put into it. Harvesting heads of cauliflower is one such moment.

When to Harvest

Cauliflower, when ready to harvest, are fully sized at about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and have a tight “curd.” If you grow a white variety, they may be pure white (especially if you remember to tie a few leaves together to keep them out of the sun when they are growing) or tinged with purple, a natural result of exposure to the sun. Other varieties will be green, orange, purple, or whatever color they should be (hopefully).

How to Harvest

Cut the cauliflower with a large knife
Use a large, sharp knife to sever the cauliflower head from the stalk, leaving a few leaves on it.
Sever the head with a large knife (I find that garden clippers just don’t cut it) below a few of the leaves. Keeping those few leaves on the stalk will help keep the cauliflower fresh in your refrigerator a bit longer.

After you Harvest

Immersed Cauliflower
Make sure the water completely covers the cauliflower
Now, drown that cauliflower, in the biggest pot you have, in slightly salty water, because likely it is riddled with bugs. Be sure to fully immerse the head, with no “islands” for nasty insects to beach themselves on. I’ve discovered whole colonies of ants, aphids, cabbage worms, and earwigs in mine this year, and the water bath helps both by forcing the bugs out of the head and killing any insects that don’t get out themselves. It’s gross work, but it mostly gets the job done, though ants annoyingly find their way into every branch and may need to be sprayed off individually when you cut the broccoli.
Bugs swimming after a Cauliflower soak
An earwig and a cabbage worm that had been calling my cauliflower home

Is it worth it to put this work in? After roasting my olive-oil, seasoned cauliflower in the oven, I’d say heck yeah!

Disclaimer: these cauliflower plants & heads pictures were NOT grown using my Slug Force Fields, so there may be less bugs when I utilize them next year!

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