Skoorbmax
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Have my Broccoli bolted?

[img]https://i897.photobucket.com/albums/ac177/Skoorb100/bolt.jpg[/img]

Just kidding, I know these are now completely inedible. No tears will be shed but I am really interested to know if it's even possible to grow broccoli in the spring in NY without some kind of greenhouse or whatever.

I bought these seedlings and planted mid April. Due to our last frost date a month past that I doubt I could have planted earlier. They were doing great but in the past 10 days we've had three unusually hot days (~90F), so they decided enough of that.

I know these plants hate excess heat but our season, like many, can have extreme heat even just a couple weeks after last normal frost date. Is the proper time to plant broccoli more like July for a september/October harvest? Even in September we can have hot days, though!

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jal_ut
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Harvest that head now! The cluster of flower buds is what we grow broccoli for. What were you expecting? That head will be just fine. Enjoy!
Last edited by jal_ut on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gardenbean
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Jal (or anyone)-If you don't mind me jumping in here, I too am growing Broccoli for the first time and have question regarding side shoots. I have a large broccoli head forming on the main stem of the plant but am also noticing side shoots too and want to know what section of the plant should I harvest first. The head or side shoots. The type of broccoli I am growing is the Calabrese (sorry for the misspell) and they are going strong. Have no problems with them, but just don't know how to harvest them.
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gardenbean wrote:Jal (or anyone)-If you don't mind me jumping in here, I too am growing Broccoli for the first time and have question regarding side shoots. I have a large broccoli head forming on the main stem of the plant but am also noticing side shoots too and want to know what section of the plant should I harvest first. The head or side shoots. The type of broccoli I am growing is the Calabrese (sorry for the misspell) and they are going strong. Have no problems with them, but just don't know how to harvest them.
Harvest the main head first. The side shoots will keep coming for many weeks if your weather doesn't get too hot and harm the plant.

Skoorbmax
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Harvested :) Will attempt to eat this evening :D

I still think with colder weather these would have gotten much bigger before the puffing out began but they are not too bad now.

gumbo2176
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Skoorbmax wrote:Harvested :) Will attempt to eat this evening :D

I still think with colder weather these would have gotten much bigger before the puffing out began but they are not too bad now.

I only plant broccoli in the late summer/early fall for a cool/cold weather crop. I can plant them all during the fall/winter months since we seldom get more than 2-3 days in a row of below freezing weather down here in New Orleans each winter.

Each fall, my plants get about 3 ft. tall and spread out a couple feet. I plant them about 18 inches apart and they do touch each other when growing. After the main head is harvested, I generally pick side shoots every week or so from the plants and that lasts for 4-5 more weeks. After that, the side shoots get smaller and smaller and not worth fooling with.

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jal_ut
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The variety, the fertility of the soil and the weather all have an effect on the size of the head. However, once the head has come forth, as a little head, which will grow in size, there is nothing that will increase the number of florets in the head. So many florets have been included on the head as it first emerges and no more than that will form. The florets will grow and the head will increase in size, but when the florets are looking like they would burst, you best pick it. If you don't you will soon have lots of pretty yellow flowers that the bees love. I have not tried it, but am told that the flowers and stalks are still good. I suppose that to be true as long as the portion is still tender and not tough and stringy.
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cynthia_h
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I've also harvested the leaves, after the florets are gone. The leaves are just as tasty as the "heads" and florets.

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SarahSarah
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cynthia_h wrote:I've also harvested the leaves, after the florets are gone. The leaves are just as tasty as the "heads" and florets.

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Cynthia, how do you prepare them? Stir fried greens? I want to try next time I grow broccoli.

Lex
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Skoorbmax, don't give up on those broccoli plants, not by a long shot. Last year, being a noob gardener, I let my broccolis all bolt and lost out on the first main head. But if you cut those off (diagonally with a knife so that water will run off the stumps and not pool and cause rotting) smaller heads will continue to form for weeks to come.

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rainbowgardener
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For next time, you did let that main head go a little longer than recommended, so it was starting to open up a little. You want to harvest it while the little buds are still tight. Then as noted, leave the plant to put out side shoots which you can harvest later.

But all parts of the broccoli plant (except I guess the roots) are edible. Slice the stems up into stir fry. If it had bolted and opened up into yellow flowers, the flowers are edible (nice in salad), and as cynthia said the leaves are edible. Broccoli and cabbage are closely related - when they are seedlings they are difficult to tell apart -- so the broccoli leaves aren't much different from cabbage leaves.
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SarahSarah wrote:
cynthia_h wrote:I've also harvested the leaves, after the florets are gone. The leaves are just as tasty as the "heads" and florets.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
Cynthia, how do you prepare them? Stir fried greens? I want to try next time I grow broccoli.
I usually harvest broccoli leaves, kale, chard, spinach, and the like at the same time, cutting some leaves off of each. Cut them up (after a good rinse!) and steam or sauté all in the same pan. Maybe butter, maybe olive oil; maybe some of each. Maybe lemon juice and/or garlic. It depends on what I'm having them with.

Cynthia

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digitS'
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gardenbean wrote:. . . I am growing is the Calabrese . . .
I believe that Calabrese is just an heirloom broccoli variety. I have grown that variety before and it produced a large plant, a small head, and a multitude of side shoots!

. . . after harvesting that central head, just keep after those side shoots. Go out every day if necessary, cut the side shoots close to the central stem and bring them in to the kitchen.

If your weather stays cool and you harvest consistently, you will be able to continue until you are down to pencil-size shoots. It may just come down to how small you are willing to bother with.

Steve
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No your fine, but those buds are about to open up...pick it asap. I have harvested my broccoli as well...

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If you get a big stem on your broccoli don't throw it away cut off the tuff sides of the stem and eat the tender inside even raw! The inside taste a little like kohlrabi to me and its really good!
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digitS'
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Bobberman wrote:. . . The inside taste a little like kohlrabi to me and its really good!
Ha! That's how I've described the taste of Kohlrabi to those who haven't tried it, Bobberman!

Mom used to peel and offer the broccoli stem to kids impatient for dinner. Experiences like that develop an early enjoyment of veggies :) .

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I cut the inner stems into blocky chunks by cutting diagonally while turning. I call them Broccoli "Rocks" and serve them alongside Broccoli "Trees" :wink:

When they were little, I encouraged my kids to play with their food. They used to make Broccoli forest on Mashed Potato hills and lined the Gravy pond with Broccoli rock. Then the Spoon and Fork people came along.... :lol:

gardenbean
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digitS' wrote:
gardenbean wrote:. . . I am growing is the Calabrese . . .
I believe that Calabrese is just an heirloom broccoli variety. I have grown that variety before and it produced a large plant, a small head, and a multitude of side shoots!

. . . after harvesting that central head, just keep after those side shoots. Go out every day if necessary, cut the side shoots close to the central stem and bring them in to the kitchen.

If your weather stays cool and you harvest consistently, you will be able to continue until you are down to pencil-size shoots. It may just come down to how small you are willing to bother with.

Thanks for the advice on the broccoli heads. I did cut the main heads this morning and will have a great salad tonite with it. And yes I will start to harvest those side shoots everyday if need be. I love this broccoli. Having grown my own, it tastes so much better. :lol:
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rainbowgardener
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" Having grown my own, it tastes so much better. "


It took me awhile to get to the point of saying my garden grown broccoli tastes better. Most garden grown stuff does. But garden broccoli is a bit of an acquired taste. My broccoli is a little bit coarser textured and stronger tasting (more "broccoli" flavor) than the store bought and at first I didn't like that.

I kept growing it anyway, because what else can you put out in the garden that early? It's something I always have room for in my little garden because it goes out so early. Eventually I came to like mine...
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@Rainbow-Like you, what else can you plant in your garden so early in the season :wink: Besides planting peas (which have been a total delight in eating) I wanted to see if I could plant Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage too. So I made it my cause to do so and having all of those veggies doing well, I've learned a few things along the way.

First, leave lots of room for the big three. I really had no idea just how big Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts can get. And my cabbages are still in the developing stage, but my goodness they are growing...........

I have taken Steve's suggestion and begun harvesting my side shoots from the broccoli which in turn has given me more than I ever thought possible. This in turn lets me share with others, who are really surprised to see it coming out of a "home garden". Still waiting on the Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage.

My broccoli may not look as cute as the store bought kind but in the taste department, it's out of this world. Than again maybe it's the type I am growing, I dunno know. :shock:
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jstrausss
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BrianSkilton wrote:No your fine, but those buds are about to open up...pick it asap. I have harvested my broccoli as well...
Great Pics - So do you use any special fertilizer for your broccoli ?

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I have had broccol that produced right away and just stayed there till fall then started producing for months during the fall! keep it watered and stop it from flowering!
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Skoorbmax
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Well, another year, a complete repeat of last year. Not sure I'll bother with broccoli again. Around here the last frost is around mid May (not this year, it was much earlier--but generally it's mid-Mayish). Again, I put the broccoli in mid april, well sized seedlings, but didn't see the first heads pop out until around May 19 or so. By the time they had any meaningful size at all many of them were already separating and starting to flower. The problem i think is the weather in Western NY turns on a dime. We had plenty of very hot days in May.

I'm sure there are those who grow broccoli around here in the spring, but they're obviously better at this than I am!

On the other hand the turnip seeds I put in in mid-March (kept within a cold-frame type enclosure) did very well, started to harvest mid-may, picked the rest this past weekend and got a ton of them up.

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rainbowgardener
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I think the secret is earlier. I start my broccoli indoors under lights in late Jan or 1st of Feb. I put it in the garden by mid march (a month ahead of my last frost date, once hardened off they are quite frost tolerant).

Last year I put broccoli seed directly in the ground in mid-Oct. It sprouted, but didn't have time to get very big before winter. But it wintered over just fine with no protection (we had a mild winter last winter, I don't know if that would always work) and started growing again as soon as things unfroze. It was way ahead of my spring planted broccoli and did great, large heads and still had time to put out some smaller side shoots before it got hot.
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jstrausss
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I have the same problem here in NY but Im not to worried. I pick the little sprouts if they look like there getting loose or bolting and eat them. I think its true that the session changes are just to drastic that it stresses the broccoli but its still good to eat just don't look as nice as the store bought ones

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The broccoli I got this year was much better as far as tighter heads and size than last year's broccoli, and this year I raised it from seed instead of buying plants. You can see in the picture my first head that I got a couple of weeks ago. I cut it early because I was scared of it bolting and wanted to make sure I got one head this year. Since then I have gotten 3 more that I let get much bigger and remained tight. We steam it mostly. I have 2 more heads to cut off tomorrow morning and a few more over the next 2 weeks. They are just now starting to make the secondary heads.

I read that higher nitrogen fertilizer for broccoli, and that is what I used.

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after some 10+/- years of trying to outguess the weather and defeat the bugs, I switched to broccoli and cauliflower as "into the fall" crops.

it's a whole lot easier, way less bug damage and an early frost seems to sweeten the crucifers . . .

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jstrausss
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Dillbert wrote:after some 10+/- years of trying to outguess the weather and defeat the bugs, I switched to broccoli and cauliflower as "into the fall" crops. it's a whole lot easier, way less bug damage and an early frost seems to sweeten the crucifers .
I like that idea and also keeping the Nitrogen high.

Just hate to miss out on what is already a short session where I am.

But for now this is where I live and one must make the best of it :)

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