Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Broccoli Tree


My first ever 'proper' broccoli is ready. As big as the palm of my hand, it looked just like a bought one! And tasted divinely green, cruciferous goodness on a plate. And harboured only one caterpillar.

I have attempted to grow broccoli before, with limited success. I have learnt from my failures though, which is the wonderful existential reason for making mistakes. Broccoli needs a LOT of feeding. The best broccoli I have ever seen grown in a home garden was a patch sown on the site of a recently demolished chicken pen. It loved that ntirogen hit, and grew into a veritable forest. I planted mine in rich compost with pelletised chicken manure, plus blood and bone, plus lime. Broccoli likes a sweet soil. I watered every fortnight with seaweed extract and fish emulsion (well, nearly every fortnight).

Broccoli likes space. I planted three seedlings in this space, one of which keeled over from slug damage. Then there were two.



This is early April (planted as seed in early March). Soon after this photo was taken I decided these two would crowd each other out, so the heartbreaking decision was made...
Then there was one.



Now it is quite huge, and there are about a dozen 'mini' broccolis growing on the side stem. There is room for some small, shallow-rooted lettuces and baby snowpeas as well. And a couple of caterpillars. For biodiversity.

14 comments:

lucindasans said...

What a conscientious gardener you are!

Did your family enjoy it? Or was the first broccoli too precious for children?

Lynda D said...

Congratulations, it looks beautiful. Sometimes when you have such success, it seems a shame to harvest it. You want it to keep on being a testament to your gardening prowess but needs must and it would go to seed. Thanks for the tip - im going to feed mine tomorrow.

Cheers.

GretchenJoanna said...

How completely satisfying! How will you cook it? Maybe you already ate it!
I saw a lot of warrigal at the beach and will post some pictures on my blog soon.

Heather said...

Good for you! I once tried growing broccoli, but I hesitated to cut it because it looked so sparse. I kept waiting for it to fill out so it would look like market broccoli, but before I knew it, it flowered. Yours looks great.

theroadtoserendipity said...

I love broccoli and that looks amazingly healthy (where did you say you lived...slugs and caterpillars might not be your ownly predators! ;) )

Jo said...

Thanks for all the congratulations ladies! I really do feel like I have produced a wonderful bouncing baby broccoli. It was SO hard to cut it, but we ate it lightly steamed with a sprinkle of salt and a swirl of olive oil alongside a giant lasagne. Perfect! And broccoli is the one vegetable ALL the children love. A miracle! Next year I want to grow lots more. I am eyeing off the back lawn again...
Gretchen Joanna, I am loving your wildflower posts! Last year at the beach I saw a plant that looked just like warrigal greens, with much smaller leaves, and it tasted quite salty. I think it was a version known as sea spinach, which tolerates saline soils.

e / dig in said...

wow-wee, jo it looks spectacular! congrats on your regime of care - it certainly paid off. i am trying purple sprouting brocolli myself for this first time this year, and i am hoping for success. maybe they like to be fed up big, too? i shall remember this. keep warm :-)

Jo said...

Yes, feed all the broccoli e, it will thank you and grow big. You keep warm too - it is practically snowing here tonight - you must have a stiff breeze blowing straight from Antarctica to you..

Jo said...

Fran, sorry, too late, we already 'predatored' it!

Bek said...

Wow, what a great looking broccoli! Looks like having the pot to itself and all those feedings have done their job!

thegreenbackyard said...

Looks great! I love the extra mini broccolis that come along later, they are always yummy.

Jo said...

Bek, SO much food I have given that broccoli. Clearly all my past broccoli has been severely undernourished.
Jo, I'm hoping the little baby ones will give us some more luscious little treats.. and apparently the leaves are good in stir fries, and of course, I always save the stems to chop up into soups and stews.. waste not..

GretchenJoanna said...

Jo, your last comment reminds me of a rhyme a frugal older lady taught me. Maybe you already know it:

Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.

Jo said...

Gretchen Joanna, I do love that rhyme - it is our grannies' version of the modern Refuse, Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle - but so much more catchy!

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