A Shortage of Cauliflower?!
I recently came across a post on Facebook that was titled “Cauliflower is so hot right now you may not be able to afford it – or find it”. The post directed me to an article from the Washington Post. Essentially the article said that high demand for cauliflower and cool temperatures causing decreased cauliflower yields is leading to increased prices and limited supply.
Heller, K. (2016, January 15). Cauliflower is so hot right now you may not be able to afford it — or find it. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-once-ignored-cauliflower-is-now-as-popular-as-j-law–and-its-799-a-head/2016/01/15/5ef7e846-b867-11e5-99f3-184bc379b12d_story.html
Why is there a high demand for cauliflower? I’ve seen a large number of recipes lately for some very interesting cauliflower dishes. Some of these recipes allow people to use cauliflower as a substitute for wheat and rice in their diet. I’ve seen recipes where cauliflower is put into a food processer and made into “rice” that can then be baked. Virginia Tech has a recipe for using cauliflower as Mashed “Potatoes”. I’ve also seen recipes for cauliflower “Steaks” done by roasting thick slices of cauliflower in the oven. And the most interesting use I’ve see is using cauliflower as a substitute for pizza crust! And of course people are substituting it into their diets because as a vegetable it is full of vitamins and nutrients. Take a look at this article about nutrients that are in cauliflower that make is such a wonderful vegetable to add to your diet.
Cauliflower is part of a group of vegetables that are called Cole Crops. I’ve also heard people refer to them as Cold crops as they grow well during the colder periods in early spring and late fall. Cole crops are members of the cabbage family. Included in this group are broccoli, Brussel sprouts and kohlrabi in addition to cabbage and cauliflower.
It’s time to start thinking about planting cauliflower now if you want to grow it from seeds. Extension recommends Candid Charm or White Sails as two good varieties for Virginia (publication 426-480). Especially since these varieties tend to be more heat tolerant than others and you do not need to blanch the heads to turn them white. Seeds can be started indoors now for planting out in the garden in about 4-5 weeks. Transplants can be set out around March 15. Protect transplants from any hard frosts until they are established. The planting location should receive about 8 hours of direct sunlight and be a good well-drained soil.
If you don’t have a garden, you can still plant cauliflower in containers. You can plant 4 cauliflower plants in a 20” diameter container. Plant the plants close to the edge of the container, equidistant from each other. Again, use a good well drained medium. And place the container in full sun.
Here are links to Virginia Tech Cooperative publications about cauliflower:
Vegetables Recommended for Virginia – VCE publication 426-480
Cole Crops or Brassicas – VCE publication 426-403
Vegetable Planting Guide and Recommended Planting Dates – VCE publication 426-331