Monday, November 23, 2009

Harvest Monday and reflecting on the broccoli crop

It's harvest Monday, and two weeks since I reported on mine and linked with the others at Daphne's blog. Late November is officially here and I'm pleased that there is still a broccoli harvest to report. Here is what I picked last Thursday, though the side shoots are getting smaller and smaller. I filled a 9-ounce cup, and for dinner later I stirred some into some leftover chicken soup. Just reheating the soup for a few minutes cooked the broccoli to the right texture. I haven't been to the Minton Stable Garden since then; I hope to make it today. I need to cut back the raspberries, which are done producing desirable fruit, and may be able to pinch off a few more sideshoots, though some are starting to produce yellow flowers, a signal that the end is near.Along with the pole beans and romaine lettuce, the Fiesta organic broccoli seeds (from Fedco) I had sown back in March have grown into my most successful crop of the season. This was likely due to several factors: 1) the sunny location in the Minton Stable Garden (the ones in my back yard failed to produce), 2) the well-drained soil with added compost, and 3) the cooler-than-average conditions prevented the plants from bolting sooner. Starting and planting them out at the right time, and using a potting medium with fertilizer also played a role, of course.

This morning I poked around online to determine what I could do next year to improve my broccoli growing practices. Some sites, including this one, stressed that crops should be rotated every few years to avoid diseases, and instructed me to cut stems at an angle when harvesting. I had done the quickest thing by snapping off sideshoots with my bare hand, which probably wasn't such a big deal, but had I cut off the initial heads at an angle I may have been able to avoid this. Leaving a flat stump allowed rainwater to pool up and cause rot, though it didn't harm the whole plant and I was still able to harvest side shoots. Broccoli roots tend to be shallow, so mounding soil around the base of the plant may help. One of my plants became uprooted and died, but I didn't bother to check for clubroot, which could have also been a culprit.

I'll definitely grow it again next year, and perhaps try some Romanesco or Broccoli Raab for more variety. I may also save the seeds of what I have grown, also highly recommended. I'd be curious to find out what other gardeners took away from their growing experience this season.


Daphne said...

Broccoli hasn't been all that productive for me. I'll still grow it, but the root maggots got the spring batch. The fall batch that is in sun is doing fine, but the ones in the shadier part of the garden just haven't produced much. It isn't surprising, but I wish I had gotten more. Next year I'm going to try the Piricicaba broccoli that was recommended to me.

Michelle said...

If sprouting broccoli plants are happy and you harvest carefully you can harvest for a long time. In my mild climate I've been able to get Di Cicco broccoli to produce for a year or more. This year I'm growing Piracicaba and it's been producing since July. It has slowed down now but I think it'll keep producing for a while longer.

Thomas said...

Lovely broccoli side shoots! I definitely wish I had some growing in my garden right now.

Yummy looking soup too.

Dan said...

I love broccoli, my favorite crop & vegetable. I plant mine deeply to help the shallow rooting, about 4" or so. It seems to help with watering and fends off squirrels attacks as well. I also used BT this year which is a great organic control for the cabbage worms. I want to try a sprouting variety next year as well. You may be interested in purple sprouting broccoli next year, it is reported to me very hardy. By the way, I have lots of Romanesco seed. If you would like I can pass some along once we get closer to planting time.

Sally said...

Daphne: Sorry to hear about the maggots. I too have had problems getting my broccoli plants growing in a shadier area to produce.

Michelle: I'm going to look into those varieties. Thanks.

Thomas: Thanks, and thanks!

Dan: Thanks for the info. The purple variety looks intriguing, and thanks for offering the Romanesco seed; I'll definitely keep that in mind.

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Amy McPherson Sirk said...

This was my first good year for broccoli. Our spring is brief and fall can be hotter than blazes so I was thrilled to finally have some fresh home grown broccoli. Besides the great taste, I also noticed that the heads were darker and cooked faster than the ones from the store. I hope this is just the first of many good crops for both of us.