Saturday, June 20, 2015


I picked my first broccoli today. The heads are huge. My hand width from thumb to pinky is 8" (20cm) wide.

Sadly though the heads aren't perfect. Some have brown spots in the middle and some are fairly lumpy, not smooth like most of the heads. I'm guessing this year's weather is responsible. The broccoli grew very fast this year. Like many things this year I'm picking earlier than normal. I know it seems weird that it is early since this year was the latest by far that the garden got planted. But the weather has been seriously warm this spring. It isn't unusual to get warm spells, but they are usually followed by really cold weather. We didn't have much of the cold.

Most years I also get a lot of hollow centers in the stems of the broccoli. I like eating the stems so it is a problem. It doesn't happen for my fall broccoli. This year it is almost non existent. Again I think it is the warm weather. So it has at least helped on that front. Even if I have brown centers on my broccoli heads.

This year I decided to save the leave of the broccoli. They are supposed to be very high in calcium. And good for you like all other brassica leaves. I'd never tried them before. And as you can see I cut my broccoli fairly low. So I can harvest all the leaves on the stems. I harvest them so low, not just so I can peel and eat the stem. But because I like to leave not too much on the plant. If I'm going for side shoots, I'll get bigger ones if there aren't a lot of them.

I blanched and froze some of the leaves, but kept some to eat tonight and I tasted them. They are much like kale. All in all a decent replacement for it. I'm contemplating freezing them in blocks with my kale as I'd use them the same way. I don't need to know which is which.

Each head was about 1 1/5 pounds. And each head had about 1/3 of a pound of leaves. Not too bad. I did remove the rib of the leaf though as it is tougher than the kale ribs.

And as a quick side note, I was out in the garden showing it off to a friend. I was not pleased to see the first squash vine borer flying about. Is it that time already? I usually think of July 4th as being the season, but here we are earlier here than my last garden. I checked the GDD50 and today we hit 950 here. So yup, it is that time. Currently my zucchinis are under cover, but they won't stay small long. I wonder if I'll have to remove it (or they remove it themselves) before the borers are gone.


  1. My rabbits get all the leaves from cole crops, which they practically inhale. They won't eat Asian greens though. I'd feel like I'm stealing their dinner if I ate the leaves.

  2. I have a different use for broccoli stems and leaves - my pet rabbit loves them! I'll add a few leaves to salad, and then Buttercup the bunny will get the rest. She is such a lucky pet.

  3. The browning on your broccoli is apparently call Brown Bead and can be caused by a boron deficiency (which also causes hollow stems), fluctuation in temperature, insufficient watering or too much nitrogen. I think it would be OK to eat, it just doesn't look very appetizing

    1. I have plenty of boron in my soil. I think the temperatures are really to blame. I cut the brown spots out. As you say, not too appetizing.

  4. That is an amazingly massive broccoli head. I am very envious, as we are in peak broccoli season here an most of mine are underperforming. I still have a lot of soil improvement to go.

  5. It's unfortunate that the heads aren't the best looking, but so long as they taste good, then you've got a great harvest. I don't generally use the big broccoli leaves when I cut the main head, but I've always used the leaves on the side shoots. I cook up the leafy shoots whole, the leaves don't need to be removed first except perhaps the biggest ones since their stems can get to be a bit stringy.

  6. Fantastic broccoli harvest, but you didn't mention the variety. I'm growing Arcadia and Fiesta this year and checked them Saturday. Not a sign of a head forming, but I'm sure I planted them much later than you.

  7. It's funny you should mention the broccoli leaves as my mom recently brought over a newspaper clipping about using them in cooking. In fact, there was a photo in the article of a nice bundle of leaves that was tied & labeled for sale at a grocery store (although I have yet to see them around here). I have a feeling my heads won't be that large (just like last year) so it will be really nice to be able to harvest the leaves, especially considering how much space broccoli takes up to begin with.

    Thanks for the heads up on the vine borer. I'm super late getting things out this time round and only just transplanted my squash into the straw bales a few days ago & hadn't even thought of covering it up yet - better get to that.