I think I’m the most pleased to have grown broccoli, which was never something we grew in our garden when I was a kid so has always seemed an exotic thing to find in a backyard garden. Some gardening books classify it as hard to grow too, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.I hadn’t realized how tall the broccoli would get, and how quickly, so at one point I had to move the pepper plants out from behind the monsters. After a few more weeks, it seemed like all the plant’s efforts were going into producing huge leaves, but no fruit was apparent. That’s when I did a significant amount of pruning, cutting all the lower leaves off — this also gave the squash I’d planted nearby a fighting chance at getting some sunlight. After a few weeks a single broccoli bud appeared at the very centre of one of the plants. My friend Babs had warned me to cut the first one that appeared so that more would grow, so I did — with some doubts. I mean, I’ve never seen a broccoli plant in full “bloom” so I didn’t really know how they grew. I thought each plant grew a single head of broccoli, like a cabbage — one plant, one head. What I discovered actually happens is that little heads sprouts from each “joint in the stalk where a leaf sprouts out. Then you keep trimming them and harvesting tender mini heads.
I’m not sure if it was the pruning, cutting that first bud, or just the fabulous stretch of sunshine and heat in June, but last weekend I harvested a huge bowl full of broccoli! I’ve used it in several stir fry dinners along with cabbage, kale, snow peas and a variety of herbs from the balcony garden.
We sell the pruned, young leaves of broccoli at the farmers market. They are crazy nutritious and very, very tasty. They are similar to collard greens and you can prepare them the same way. They also make great wraps for sandwiches. You just want to take the leaves when they are young and tender, as they tend to get bitter if you wait until they are too big before you harvest them.
Nice storyline of your broccoli. They grow-up so fast… In my experience, it is surprisingly hard to fine fresh, local, organic broccoli in Vancouver. And if you do, it will cost you about $5/lb. So it was a good choice to grow it yourself!