5 Must-Have Cauliflower Companion Plants For Best Harvest

Today, cauliflower is becoming more trendy, and it’s common to see it used in pizza crust, rice, bread, and crackers. It’s an excellent cool-season vegetable crop that’s adaptable to both partial shade and full sun. Cauliflower also comes in colors other than white and can be used for adding color to your garden and plate.

We’ll cover the best cauliflower companion plants, explain how they attract beneficial insects, and work together.

5 Best Companion Plants for Cauliflower

  1. Beets
  2. Lettuce
  3. Fennel
  4. Nasturtiums
  5. Cosmos

An explanation of why these plants grow well with cauliflower is below.

Beets & Lettuce

Cauliflower grows slowly and takes up a lot of garden space; most growth is more than 6 to 8 inches off the ground. You can underplant fast-growing crops like radishes, beets, and leaf lettuce in that space. 

In the spring, companion planting cauliflower can help control the two main pests that affect all brassicas: aphids and cabbage worms. 

Cosmos

Hoverfly larvae are beneficial insects and will eat aphids when planted with cosmos and are used as a good companion for cauliflower. 

Nasturtiums

To assist cosmos, plant nasturtiums as a trap crop near cauliflower; aphids will be attracted to the nasturtiums even more than your cauliflower. 

Fennel

In addition, planting fennel around your cauliflower will draw parasitic wasps, which will lay their eggs under the caterpillars’ skin and then plant their larvae on the worms from the inside out. 

3 Bad Companion Plants For Cauliflower

Avoid planting these three bad cauliflower companion plants:

1.) Tomatoes

Cauliflower will face competition with tomatoes because they’re both heavy feeders for vital nutrients in the soil. Being that they compete, cauliflower could stunt the growth of tomatoes. 

2.) Strawberries 

This is a bad companion plant for cauliflower because strawberries compete for nutrients like tomatoes and cauliflower. 

3.) Brassicas

 Brassicas, such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, should not be planted next to cauliflower. Both brassica and cauliflower belong to the same family. So, together they would attract more pests and diseases to your vegetable garden, and compete with one another. 

Now that you know the best and worst cauliflower companion plants, here are some growing and harvesting tips.

Getting Started & Planting Cauliflower

planting cauliflower in the garden.

Cauliflower can be planted in the late summer or early fall and allowed to grow throughout the winter if your winters only experience light frosts. However, you should plant your cauliflower in the spring if you have freezing temperatures and winter snow. 

It’s generally best to start indoors from seed or transplants, regardless of the weather. However, since cauliflower will only plant in soil that is less than 70°F (21°C) in temperature, growing it from seed in the late summer or early fall is probably too hot. 

Since cauliflower and broccoli can occupy a garden for four to five months, they can eat up space for your warm-season crops, so you’ll want to start planning your spring sowing early. 

You can start cauliflower seeds indoors six weeks before your last frost date. As soon as your seedlings or transplants are prepared to be placed in the garden (can be planted two weeks before your last frost date), ensure they receive at least four to five hours of direct sun, but the more, the better. 

In rich, well-draining soil, space them 15 to 18 inches apart and keep them moist. 

Growing Cauliflower & Harvesting

growing cauliflower plant

Although cauliflower leaves can be eaten, most people grow them for the substantial central stalk and head. 

The plant’s top center is where the head develops; although it starts small, it will eventually get much more prominent. It would be best to cover the cauliflower heads once the leaves begin to part and the sun shines directly on them because direct sunlight can cause them to turn discolored. 

To do this, gather some leaves close to the head and rubber band or clothespin them together. This will protect the head from the sun. 

A cauliflower head is ready to harvest when it is still tight and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in diameter. Then, when the stalk begins to branch into the various segments, take a knife or pair of clippers and cut it off. 

Cauliflower plants stop producing once the central head has been harvested, unlike broccoli plants, which continue to produce a secondary crop of side florets. 

This article was produced by Nature of Home.

Is Broccoli Man-Made or Natural? (Solved + Surprising)

broccoli man made in a lab

If you’re wondering, “is broccoli man made?”, the answer is yes, broccoli is man-madeBut don’t panic. That doesn’t necessarily mean the vegetable originated in a laboratory.

In fact, broccoli isn’t even a recent invention. Read on to learn how ancient farmers used selective breeding to produce broccoli. 

A Quick Guide to Selective Breeding 

Selective breeding, also known as artificial selection, is a process of cultivating plants. 

Growers propagate plants with favorable traits to produce a better version of the original plant. Favorable characteristics might include hardiness, size, flavor, or resistance to pests and disease. 

To propagate plants, growers harvest seeds from favorable plants. But they might also duplicate plants by grafting, cutting, layering, and other methods. 

Selective breeding of plants is not a recent invention. Hunter-gatherers began this cultivation practice roughly 10,000 years ago. 

A mere 8,000 years later, farmers began breeding broccoli from the wild cabbage plant: Brassica oleracea. 

As the wild cabbage grew, gardeners were able to select premium buds. They would use these new buds to replace the less desirable originals, gradually cultivating bigger and tastier plants. 

Undomesticated wild cabbage is a biennial, meaning it flowers every other year. Artificial selection does not change the time it takes for a plant to grow. So using selective breeding to produce a new plant species is a long process. 

The Beginning of Broccoli

broccoli growing and ready to harvest

Historians believe that the ancient Etruscans first cultivated wild cabbage over 2000 years ago. Farming in the Italian region now known as Tuscany, the Etruscans bred the earliest species of broccoli as well as other cruciferous vegetables. 

In slightly more recent history, 18th-century Italian farmers continued growing broccoli in this region. But these farmers expanded broccoli’s territory, shipping the vegetable to England, America, and eventually the rest of the world.

When broccoli arrived in England in the mid-18th century, people called it Italian asparagus

In America, broccoli appeared at Monticello in the early 1800s. Along with broccoli, Thomas Jefferson also grew its fellow cultivar, cauliflower. 

Despite Jefferson’s early introduction of broccoli on American soil, broccoli didn’t experience stateside popularity right away. The surge of this superfood occurred in the early 1920s when it arrived in the luggage of Italian immigrants. 

Today, the broccoli crown wears the crown, reigning as America’s favorite vegetable – according to a recent Green Giant survey. 

But broccoli isn’t the only vegetable that emerged from the Mediterranean wild cabbage. Cauliflower, kale, collard greens, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi all stemmed (literally) from Brassica oleracea

And it keeps on growing. Broccolini, also known as tender stem broccoli, is a cross-breed of broccoli and gai lan. Romanesco is another broccoli hybrid that dates back to the 16th century. 

Broccoli Health Benefits

Broccoli is a man-made vegetable. So is broccoli a GMO? 

Scientists create genetically modified organisms by altering a plant’s DNA. Although designed with good intentions, GMOs can negatively impact environmental and human health. 

Broccoli is not a GMO. Scientists did not create it in a laboratory. Humans helped with matchmaking, but nature did all the growing and changing. No genome engineering occurred to develop this vegetable. 

So steam it, saute it, or eat it raw. Broccoli is nutrient-dense and flavorful. It provides an excellent source of antioxidants, proteins, and fiber. Not to mention an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

References + Resources

Breeding Field Vegetables; usaid.gov – PDF

Domestication, diversity and use of Brassica oleraceaL., based on ancient Greek and Latin texts; springer.com – Link

This article was produced by Nature of Home, and syndicated by Healing-Water.org.