I Blew It With the Broccoli… Again!

I was really optimistic about my broccoli this year. Last year I grew it from seed by sowing it directly in the garden, which didn’t go well at all. I had a handful of plants come up, but only a couple of them actually got a head on them, and it took forever! I also expected them to get much bigger than they did, so I kept waiting and then before I knew it, they bolted.

Same thing this year, though this time I got a much better start. I bought plants instead of trying to sow seed in the garden, which is definitely the way to go. I also installed an app called “Gardenate” on my smart phone and I recorded when I planted the broccoli. Gardenate allows you to keep track of when you plant each crop in your garden, how long each takes to mature, and approximately when you can expect to be harvesting them.

The broccoli plants were looking great all spring, though I did have a battle with cabbage worms, which took no time at all to find us. Even still, I got the caterpillars under control and the broccoli heads were filling out nicely until one day I went out there and found a second round of caterpillars boring holes through the heads and pooping all over the plants! (Grrrr!) I dealt with the caterpillars again and hoped the broccoli would recover. Shortly thereafter we got several hot days with thunderstorms. The next time I was out there to check on them, the plants were bolting! I thought it might be too late, but I picked the heads off most of the plants, washed them, and put them in the fridge. Here is how they looked when I picked them.

We steamed some for dinner and though they looked a little more like broccolini (broccoli rabe) than broccoli, they still tasted like broccoli should and they were very crisp.

I’m disappointed that I blew it again and missed the window, though. Like last year, I was waiting for the heads to get bigger instead of realizing they were mature and would bolt soon. Even though I did catalog my broccoli using Gardenate, I hadn’t been checking the program to check my predicted harvest time. To be honest, some crops in my garden haven’t grown as fast as the app (or even the seed packet) said they should, so I wasn’t putting much stock into what Gardenate said. However, I did go back to check when it said I should have harvested the broccoli and it actually did say it would have been ready just a few days before it bolted.

So, moral of the story when growing broccoli: 1) plant transplants rather than sow seeds, 2) keep the caterpillars in check 3) don’t wait for small-but-mature heads to get bigger and 4) watch the broccoli closely, looking for signs that the flowers are getting ready to open, so you are sure to harvest them before they bolt. I plan to grow a fall crop of broccoli, so we’ll see if I can do better next time around. Third time’s a charm, right?

If you have any tips for growing broccoli, I’d love to hear them! We eat a lot of it around here, so I’m going to keep trying to grow it.

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8 responses to “I Blew It With the Broccoli… Again!

  1. I never had any luck with broccoli eather

  2. emily lehman 10-21-11

    just never give up it will work sooner or later. Your attitude is positive. So it will happen. I never had good luck with it either.

  3. Yes Dear, Your broccoli looks just like ours did, that’s why we no longer bother planting any. Between small heads and the worms it’s not worth it. Good Luck, Love, A T

  4. My dad told me of his broccoli trials and tribulations in the past, and that was enough to convince me not to plant any. Though I did have the one little broccoli rabe plant this year.

  5. As I was reading this……knowing the “gardner” that I am not….I thought ot myself….hey…I can contibute here….I will tell her to plant for a fall crop, like dad does sometimes….and naturally as I read on …..you covered that too….drats………….. 😉

  6. I’m done planting broccoli. This was my second year and just last week, I ripped out three (small) rows of broccoli. I tried last year and couldn’t handle the caterpillar worms. I would clean and clean and still find worms. Someone said to soak the heads in salt water and the worms would float out. I still found them, pickled, but tucked in tight. This is one vegetable that I will have to accept the bright green, highly pesticided varieties from the market because I just. can’t. do. it!

  7. We had the exact same luck with our broccoli this year. Oh well. I’ve never been keen on brocolli fresh out of the garden with the little green worms stuck to them anyway.. Making sure the worms drowned first was always someone else’s job.

    • Oh, those little green worms are the WORST! Seriously considering skipping the broccoli next year and, like you said, let someone else do the dirty work. I did already buy some plants for a fall harvest, though. I guess it’s my one last shot.

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