Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How not to grow broccoli

How not to grow broccoli? It's dead easy if you pick the wrong weather. Here's how I did it. First, be lazy and buy a seedling, instead of seed. Then plant the seedling in autumn, right at the start of an unusually warm stretch of weather. Fertilise normally. Stand back! Here's what happens next...

Too late for harvest already. This broccoli head went from
normal 'broccoli' to flower head in a matter of days. We
blinked and missed our chance to harvest our crop.

"Don't touch the broccoli!" our resident artist (Pammy) warned
our resident gardener (me). Like someone glued to the TV
screen watching a soap opera, she wanted to see what happened
next. (Besides, might make a nice painting later on.)

Each little blob-ette in a head of broccoli is a flower trying
to have its moment in the sunshine. I have posted about this
issue before: vegie guilt. Knowing that when you harvest crops
you're cutting down a growing plant in the beauty of its
adolescence, denying it the chance to live out a full life as an adult,
flowering plant. It's a tragic, yet guiltily delicious, story that isn't
all that different from the fate of little lambs and piglets. 

A simple flower, yes, but complexity in flowers is sometimes
a bit overrated, especially when you have lots of simple blooms.

The final stage is the disappearance of the
tightly clumped flowerhead altogether, when
the broccoli briefly becomes a shrub with
a frazzled spray of white tassels. The bees love
the broccoli blooms; there's a humming
soundtrack to accompany the show. 
And so that's how not to do it. Grow broccoli, I mean. Don't do it like this, but should you accidentally do it like this, my advice is "don't panic". Leave it be and enjoy the show. It's actually the star of the garden right now, and who would have thunk that broccoli would ever be the star turn in a garden?


Farmer Liz said...

And the best part is the free seeds that follow! My garden is full of self-seeded brassica.

Sue O said...

I always grow broccoli that way!

Virginia said...

Juice the leaves too. I have left broccoli after it has finished producing through to the following hot summer in Brisbane. It has continued with florets until December. Not big heads, but the little ones with long stems. It perks up the next winter and gives me some more and some self sown seeds for microgreens.

Julie McNeill said...

My husband came in with broccoli like your pictures and I read him your blog - snap!
Climate change is going to test the patience of many gardeners.