Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, which also includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and collard greens, though they are of different cultivar groups. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten. Cauliflower heads resemble those of broccoli, which differs in having flower buds.
Cauliflower is a cool-season vegetable and can be a little more difficult to grow than other members of the “cabbage” family. It is best to start seeds indoors to raise seedlings for transplanting to the garden. Do not transplant sooner than 2 to 3 weeks before the average frost-free date in the spring. Cauliflower is more sensitive to the cold than its cabbage-family relatives. It is important to start cauliflower early enough that it matures before the heat of the summer, but not so early that it is injured by the cold. When the head begins to form (shows 2 to 3 inches of white curd at the growing point), it needs to be blanched. To do this, simply tie the outer leaves together over the center of the plant to protect the head from sunburn and to keep it from turning green and developing an off-flavor.