Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Brocoli Post

Historically - I have had two problems with brocoli. 1. I never am quite sure how to spell it? Is it two c's, two l's? Who knows? Internet be darned - I ain't looking it up. 2. Too little garden production. Well - I still don't know how to spell it, but after this year I am no longer complaining about brocoli's garden vigor.

The best I can tell from looking back at my brocoli posts, this year's crop was started from seed indoors on 2/24 and transplanted to the sun garden on 3/17. The brocoli and cabbage shared a row in the sun garden - "the bracias row". My original post mentions 15 brocoli seedlings, but I thinned this original planting down to about 10 mature plants. currently there are 5 plants out in the garden and they are still producing. We planted a variety called Green Goliath. It was from RH Shumway.

Our 2009 harvest chart has our brocoli haul at 12 pounds, but I am guessing that is a little light. Brocoli starts out with a huge head. My notes say that the first harvest yielded heads that weighed almost a pound. My chart says the first brocoli harvest was approx 6/5. That was approximately 2.5 months from garden transplant to first harvest. The follow-up side shoots are much smaller and lighter. We have been harvesting side shoots steadily since early July and they are still producing. I am estimating that we harvest sides shoots once per week at about 1 pound total. I didn't begin charting weight by vegetable until very late in the season, so I'm not sure exactly what the haul was this year. The bottom line: We have been harvesting brocoli steadily for 4 months already and I bet it will be one of the last veggies that we harvest this year. It is a long and steady producer.

Another great trait about brocoli is the fact that it starts so small, grows slow and ends up big. It is a perfect crop for early season companion planting. This year I interplanted lettuce and spinach with the brocoli. Therefore one brocoli row yields much more than just the broc harvest.

Well how does it taste? Delicious. Our primary use has been in salads, although we did get enough for quiches, side dishes, pizzas and some modest freezing.

What would I do differently?

  1. I would plant more. Why share a row with brocoli and cabbage? Brocoli needs it's own home. This year's 8-10 productive plants should double to 15-20 next year - assuming I can find the space. It is very popular with the kids and adults in our family and is also very versatile in the kitchen (unlike cabbage). It is also extremely healthy.
  2. Don't worry about succession planting brocoli. Just start the seeds indoors in mid February and plant outdoors in mid-March. It produces well all season, so why bother with succession planting. The only thing succession planting does is stagger the main shoot harvest a little. But if you hope to freeze some brocoli than this is not important.
  3. Don't be fooled by the July dry period. In the heat of the summer the brocoli production falls way off. I was fooled this year and I actually pulled and composted three plants in late July. I replaced these empty spots with broc transplants that I had in the cold frame, but these guys never reached maturity. No matter how bad the mid-summer brocoli looks, just keep weeding, composting and watering. It should rebound and be producing again soon.

Bottom Line: Brocoli was definately a Stacy Garden 2009 success story, and has earned a prominent place in our 2010 garden plans.

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