A constant supply of fresh, organic vegetables can be quite expensive. But did you know that you can grow your own vegetables, like cauliflower, from scratch?
The good news is that you can propagate the fresh cuttings from this favorite vegetable that you would normally throw away. This will not only help you save on food costs and reduce waste; growing your own also guarantees fresh and nutrient-rich cauliflowers compared with certain store-bought specimens.
If you are curious about how to grow your own cauliflower from scraps, this short guide is for you. Read on to learn how to grow this superfood in your own garden, out of just leftovers.
Why grow cauliflower?
Cauliflower is widely known as one of the healthiest vegetables out there, because it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help fight cancer. Cauliflower contains choline, sulforaphane, and sulfur, all of which are beneficial for brain development, gut health, and the immune system. A lot of fitness fanatics also praise this superfood due to its high fiber content that can aid weight loss.
Aside from its nutritional value, a lot of people like growing cauliflower simply for its delicious taste. This is a versatile vegetable – you can add the florets to your salads or cook it as a main dish.
There are many ways to grow cauliflower. While the best approach is to grow it from seed, surprisingly, you can also grow this superfood from scraps. This inexpensive method will help you save the parts you do not want to eat and reduce your domestic food waste. No need to spend a lot of money buying new plants – you can literally grow your own from your vegetable leftovers! Hence, growing cauliflower from scraps is both friendly to the environment and to your pocket.
Can you plant cauliflower from scraps?
It might seem impossible, but the answer is yes – you can grow a cauliflower from scraps!
Often, we use just the cauliflower florets for cooking and eating, and throw away the other parts (although they can also be eaten). But, instead of tossing the cauliflower leftovers into your compost, why not grow them in your garden?
Most plants, including cauliflowers, have the ability to grow new roots from fresh cuttings. You can take advantage of this natural process to reduce your food waste and start your own vegetable plot.
But how exactly does growing cauliflowers from scraps work?
All you need is a fresh cauliflower stalk with the heads cut and a shallow container with some water. Any beginner can follow this simple process, although it might take some time and patience to see the little roots start growing.
But here is the catch – growing vegetables from scraps is not usually the best approach if you want to grow a robust, full-sized cauliflower plant. This is mostly true if you buy your produce from grocery stores, as these vegetables are likely kept in cold storage for a long time, thus losing some of their flavor and nutritional content. If you are growing your cauliflower from scraps, you will likely never achieve the size or quality of florets that you might be expecting. Instead, the result is usually smaller cauliflower heads.
So, if you are a serious grower and want to produce healthy, full-sized plants in your garden, then it is better to grow them from seeds or plant seedlings. This process will provide you with faster growth and better yields as the plants have not undergone treatments or been placed in cold storage.
But, if you are up for the challenge, then growing your own cauliflower from scraps is still a fun activity. It could be a great experiment to teach your kids how to plant, or simply to avoid adding more food waste to your compost heap. Growing your cauliflower from scraps can also give you a bit of excitement and something to look forward to as your vegetable stalks begin to grow new roots.
Steps to grow cauliflower from scraps
Growing your own cauliflower from scraps will demand some time and patience. These are the steps you should follow:
1. Prepare healthy cauliflower scraps
First things first, prepare some good cuttings. When you are ready to cook your cauliflower, make sure to set aside the base, which you normally would not eat. Remember that the scraps have to be fresh when planted.
Simply cut off the cauliflower florets at least a few inches from the base. You can then use the heads in your salad or cooking and use the remaining lower for your next step. Make sure the stalk is free from any leaves or bits of florets.
2. Place the cauliflower scraps in a shallow container of water
Water is the key ingredient to encourage the growth of new roots from your vegetable scraps. To facilitate this, you will need to prepare a shallow container with a little bit of water.
The goal is to keep the cauliflower base soaked without drowning the whole plant or causing it to rot. Thus, the water must be at just the right level so as not to submerge the entire stalk. Make sure that the base of the scrap is facing down while the chopped part faces up.
Once you have placed the scraps in their containers, do not forget to change the water every two days or so. Stagnant water can promote bacterial growth as the stems sit in the water for a long time. By changing the water regularly, you will keep your plants fresh and prevent the scraps from starting to smell or decompose.
3. Find a suitable growing area
A good location is another important factor for the successful growth of your cauliflower scraps. Since cauliflowers are a cool-weather crop, they do better in areas with temperatures below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, like most vegetables, cauliflowers also need at least six hours of light every day, so make sure to position the containers where your plants will receive lots of sunlight.
4. Transfer the established cauliflower plant
Cauliflower scraps need a week or less to grow new roots. Once you see that the root structures and leaves have begun to form, you can transfer the plant to its permanent growing medium. Some growers might prefer planting their cauliflower straight into their garden soil. However, if your backyard is not suitable for gardening, you can also transfer your plant into a pot.
To plant the new cauliflower plants in your garden, there are a few simple tips you should follow to ensure a good harvest after a few weeks. First, try to find a good location where your plants will receive lots of sunlight. Young cauliflower plants need lots of bright light for photosynthesis, which is a critical process for plants to produce energy. This energy is required for seedlings to continue growing and blooming until they reach maturity.
Another important factor is the quality of the soil. Like most plants, cauliflowers require well-draining soil to grow well and avoid fungal diseases. If your garden soil is too dense or compact, it would be better to transfer your plant to a pot. If you have more than one plant, make sure that they are eight inches apart from one another to allow them enough space to grow.
Tips for growing cauliflower from scraps
Here are a few tips for successfully growing cauliflower from scraps that might otherwise have been tossed onto your compost heap:
- Transfer your cauliflower plants once the roots have grown about two to three inches long.
- Gradually acclimatize the young plants to the outdoors by taking them out once a week to begin with. This will help strengthen them before their permanent move to your garden beds.
- Avoid using chemicals on your new plants as this can easily turn them purple or brown. It is best to use organic materials like compost or mulch to improve the soil quality and retain enough moisture.
- Make sure that the soil has good aeration and is rich in nutrients. Cauliflower roots need both oxygen and macronutrients to grow properly.
- Water your plants well, but avoid underwatering or overwatering, as both can have detrimental effects on your plants.
- Maintain the appropriate soil pH – preferably between 6 and 7.
- Clear your garden soil of weeds to ensure optimum growth of your cauliflower plants.
- Protect your young plants from pests and diseases by covering them with fleece or horticultural mesh. Monitor the cauliflower heads from time to time to ensure that no pests are hiding underneath them.
If you are looking for clever ways to save on your food bills, then growing cauliflower from scraps might be a good idea! This process is simple and fun to do, especially during the spring. Aside from growing your own organic food, you will also be reducing your household waste.
Keep in mind, though, that growing cauliflower from scraps might not result in a full-sized cauliflower plant. Instead of a large head, you are more likely to end up harvesting a few smaller heads. But that is okay – if your goal is to save some money and reduce kitchen waste, then growing cauliflowers and other vegetables from scraps is definitely worth a try!
Image: istockphoto.com / RobinsonThomas