Last week I harvested my last head of broccoli. As you can see from the little yellow buds about to pop into bloom, I should have harvested it a day or two earlier. (Hey, speaking of edible flowers–I love them!–did you know that you’re eating flower buds when you’re eating broccoli tops?) This was the last of the eight broccoli heads to get chopped off, and I was a bit sad to see it go. I’m growing a different variety this year, Packman, and I don’t know if it will produce as many side shoots as the variety I’ve enjoyed growing the last few years, Green Goliath. I had to switch varieties because I didn’t have time to start my broccoli plants from seed this year; thus I was limited to whatever variety I could buy from the nursery. I had bought and planted two 4-cell packs, eight seedlings, this spring.
Now I’m glad to report that the broccoli plants harvested earlier are indeed producing some side shoots. I have yet to see, however, if Packman will produce as much as Green Goliath did. In the meantime, I’m attempting something I have never done before: I’m trying to grow a fall crop of broccoli. I’d thought about trying to plant a few seeds out there a couple weeks ago to see if they’d sprout and grow into a fall crop. But the time passed and I didn’t do it. However, I seized a second chance from the jaws of procrastination by buying more seedlings. Last week I bought a 6-cell pack of CMS Liberty broccoli; I chose this variety over the other one available because its label said it had a much shorter time till harvest, 65 days.
I planted the fall broccoli yesterday. First I made room for them between the other plants by pulling up some of the lettuce I had planted between the broccoli plants; the lettuce was bolting now anyway. Then I trimmed some of the leaves off the older broccoli plants so that the new ones would get more sun. (I’m not quite ready to pull up the older plants as I’m hoping for more sideshoots from them.) And the six new broccoli seedlings are planted. I put the same organic fertilizer in the planting holes that I used throughout my garden this spring: Espoma’s Tomato-tone. I don’t think the broccoli plants are going to stick out their tongues like Snoopy and say, “Bleh–Tomato food!”
Let’s see–65 days to harvest–so by my calculations, I should have six more heads of broccoli to cut off by mid-October. That’s a good time to be harvesting broccoli as it is around the first fall frost date for our area. Plus I’ve heard that better tasting broccoli is produced during cool weather. Hopefully, I’ll get to taste some and see for myself this year. I love how fresh broccoli from my garden turns the water in the pot green when I cook it! No store bought vegetables have ever done that for me.