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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Broccoli, Broccoli Everywhere and Not a Flower Head to Eat!

Note to self: Read the packet of seeds carefully and double check another source before planting.

This last Spring, I was going through the packets of seeds at Lowes (I know, I know) and gravitated towards this variety called 'Purple Sprouting' broccoli. I was drawn to the pretty color displayed on the front of the packet and the fact that it was a sprouting variety, not the blobby type heads you see in the grocery store. More like purple rapeseed. So, I grabbed a packet or 2 thinking of wonderful, yummy purple food this summer. I enthusiastically planted a butt load of the seeds in one of the raised beds. It was rather slow to get going, but I chalked that up to the cold Spring we were having.

Well, when I did a plant list for my Spring Culinary Gardening class, I actually read the packet more thoroughly. Good ol' Ed Hume said that this variety takes 120 days to maturity. "Hmmm", I thought, "That takes it into the Fall before I can harvest any of it. Well, I dutifully put the Reemay over the top of the young plants to keep them safe from the white flutter-byes (after picking off a bowl full of little, yellow eggs - so I'm slow to react) and watched them slowly take hold, holes in the leaves and all.

When it finally warmed up, caboom! Now it's July and the stuff is 30" tall, lush with vegetation and no flower heads yet! Not even a hint. Just more leaves coming up the middle. Roland asked, "When are we supposed to harvest this stuff? It's taking up a whole bed!"

I said, "Ed Hume says 120 days. Let me look it up in one of my gardening guides."

240 DAYS?! 8 months! How could ol' Ed have it so wrong? Who the hell plants broccoli (besides, apparently I) that putzes along for 8 months? I guess that's why you plant it for the bleak of winter 'cause nothing much else takes much space other than other cabbages, carrots, garlic, fava beans, lettuce, spinach, beets, etc., etc. I mean, how many crops do you need, really?

So, I brought this up in my summer Culinary Gardening class and teacher Gayle told me, "That's a variety that usually gets planted for overwintering (neener, neener, neener)." And there it was, 'Purple Sprouting' on their PowerPoint list of veg to overwinter in today's class (neener, neener, neener).

I don't mind being the class example, but usually it's for having done something well, so if having broccoli that looks like it's radioactive (sterile), I've certainly done that. I've given up on perfectionism long ago, and now call it 'excelling'. Besides, I figure it's good to be remembered for something extraordinary like successfully over-summering overwintering broccoli.

When we were planting seeds for new starts for the colleges' garden today, teacher Anne relished the idea to give me the packet of Purple Sprouting broccoli (neener, neener, neener). So, for Christmas, I'm sending them each a head of Purple Sprouting broccoli fresh out of my veg garden.


  1. Yes, label reading is a must! Good blog, hope to see the garden for real soon!

  2. I can just hear you! If I planted broccoli down here right now it would bolt. Been enjoying your blog.

  3. I'm going to hold you to that promise of broccoli this winter!



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