Monday, September 23, 2013

Broccoli flowering by Irene Shonle

This is the first year I have successfully grown broccoli.  Hard to believe, but before I did the garden makeover where I protected my beds from critters, the broccoli was always one of the first plants that they ate.
So, I didn't have a lot of experience in growing it.  I was pleased to see the heads developing and becoming good sized, and was looking forward to various broccoli dishes (unlike some former presidents, I LOVE broccoli!).   One day when I went out to the garden, though, I was startled to see that one of the heads was starting to flower.
Broccoli on the left is starting to flower
Of course, what we're eating when we eat broccoli is really the flower buds, so this shouldn't have been too surprising, but I hadn't expected to have to watch so carefully for the stage where the head stopped increasing in size and decided to flower instead.  But that is indeed what you have to do.  When the head goes from being very tightly packed to somewhat looser and elongated, that's the time to pick the main head -- before it gets to the stage in the picture on the left.  I still used the flowering broccoli in a soup, but it was starting to become quite fibrous.  It is a much better eating experience if you pick it at the stage on the right.

Picking the main head stimulates the production of smaller side heads, so maybe I can redeem myself by watching future heads more carefully.  Or, maybe an early winter will put an end to things before I get my second chance.

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