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Is this broccoli done growing?

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Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  HieronRemade on 5/22/2012, 12:24 pm

Hey All,

I haven't been around this Spring; I hope everyone's gardens are doing well!

I'm just wondering if someone can help me out with my broccoli...this is the first time I've grown it to maturity (groundhog ate them to the ground last year O.o). The plants look great; healthy and probably 2 ft. tall. But I've noticed that the heads, which are maybe 2 - 3 in. across, are already starting to loosen up, so I have two questions:

1) Are they indeed preparing to flower, and I should thus cut the heads off asap?

2) If yes, why did the plants grow so big but the heads so tiny?

Here are some pics to illustrate what I'm talking about. Thanks in advance for any info!

Full-shot of one of the plants:

Close-up of the loosest head:

Another head from the side:

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  rod champion on 5/22/2012, 12:32 pm

The little heads are ready , if not a little to ready to cut.

I have no idea why your plants are so tall and slender. All the energy was put into plant not heads. Too much nitrogen or something. My heads were 9"-10" across and very large. The stems were very fat and total plant hiegth was 3' or less at full maturity. But the stems were real thick.

Interesting the plants that I did not think were doing well, produced some of the biggest heads.

Wish I could help you on this..

You probably still have time in your area to get rid of those and plant more. I have had two crops here. Can't do more til fall on Broccoli and greens.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  HieronRemade on 5/22/2012, 12:44 pm

Darn I was afraid of that...I'll have to do some googling and see if I can learn anything. Compost is the only nutritive content in there so if there's too much nitrogen idk what to do about it, lol.

Anyway thanks for the info; I guess I'll just pull up the whole plants, probably no reason to hope for any substantial side-shoots.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  cheyannarach on 5/22/2012, 12:48 pm

You could add some bonemeal!

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  HieronRemade on 5/22/2012, 12:52 pm

Yah I'm wondering if they just needed to be fertilized despite the high compost content...Just from the couple minutes of reading I've done so far it says they need regular feeding, but I haven't been doing that since you're not supposed to need to with SFG. This fall I'll try some organic fertilizer or compost tea or something and see if that helps.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  llama momma on 5/22/2012, 12:56 pm

Hi There,
I'm in zone 6a just south of Columbus. Although I did not grow broccoli this spring I think I know what happened. Early April was good and cold which is good. But then we had lots of heat which signals the plants to grow tall and bolt with flowers. I think the plants did not have enough sustained cool weather to slow down growth. That would have given you tight heads. My unprofessional opinion anyway. My best broccs in my limited experience has been in the fall. You can use the later summer heat to get them going and the cool fall temps to keep them from bolting.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  HieronRemade on 5/22/2012, 1:07 pm

That's a really good point I hadn't thought of; for a while there it did look like we were going to go straight to summer from winter. Well yah I guess I'll just have to look forward to growing a bunch in the Fall! Thanks for the info!

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  boffer on 5/22/2012, 1:38 pm

weather, weather, weather!

(If you must add something, only add to half of your plants so you'll know if it did any good, or if it was something else.)

I am coming to the conclusion that broccoli is one of the most temperature sensitive plants I grow. Yes, they are hearty and can handle temps to the mid-twenties. Unfortunately, no one talks about the temperature range that the plant needs during the time it is creating the flower. Tolerable min and max temps are limited and vary during the maturation process; exceeding them limits the growth size of the main head. The tolerable temps vary enough that it's not worth trying to maintain them unless you're growing in a controlled environment. We can only plant our plants and take our chances that the weather will be favorable.

As was noted above, a fall crop will have a better chance of success because of more favorable temperature ranges.

Last spring, out of 50 broccoli plants, I had one head that reached 3 inches; the rest barely reached 2 inches. The cauliflowers growing in the squares right next to the broccoli grew beautiful heads. thinking In the fall, in the exact same squares, all my broccoli grew 6-7+ inch heads.

We had a 'hot' spell last fall (low to mid eighties! lol ) so just for grins, I covered one box of broccoli with shade cloth, 'just in case' it got too hot. All the heads in that box were stunted (under 3 inches). I don't know the temps or light levels under the shade cloth, but those broccoli sure didn't like it.

Weather plays a bigger role in our gardens than it is given credit for.


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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  rod champion on 5/22/2012, 1:40 pm

I am in the South..NC.. and had the same weather stuff... but mine turned out good. So I don't know about that.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  Turan on 5/22/2012, 1:50 pm

Before you pull those plants, what variety of broccoli is it?
The types bred for field harvest put everything into one big head but the older varieties have smaller heads and then lots of side shoots. To maximize the size of side shoots only let 4 (max) develop per plant at a time. I grow Calabrese, DeCiccio, Green Goliath, and they are much taller thinner with smaller heads early in the season than when I grew hybrid 4 packs I bought at the nursery (don't remember their names)

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  HieronRemade on 5/22/2012, 1:59 pm

Thanks for all the info guys, I really appreciate it! I'm thinking I'll try to plant a lot in the Fall and hope they turn out well enough that I can freeze some, and then next Spring I'll try again but not use up too much space on them.

I wanna say it's just Waltham broccoli that I have...I guess I'll look it up and see how much side-shooting they do before I pull them up. I may do so either way though, it's already so warm here and I would like to plant as many beans as I can since the wife and kids all like them. xD

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  rod champion on 5/22/2012, 2:23 pm

My biggest ones were a Bonnie Hybrid..they were big..

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  walshevak on 5/22/2012, 4:39 pm

Check out my thread. I'm in the south and for a while it seemed like feb and mar were our spring and april was heading right to summer. I was worried because all my broccoli was in plant with no heads and I was just sure the heads were going to form and bolt almost immediately. And sure enough just as the main heads formed we were hitting some high temps. Fortunately, mid may cooled way down and the side shoots are doing well. Bonnie Plants packman variety

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t12206-i-think-i-finally-learned-to-grow-broccoli

Kay

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A WEED IS A FLOWER GROWING IN THE WRONG PLACE
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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  squaredeal on 5/22/2012, 6:50 pm

pruning broccoli

My broccoli looked just like yours last year. I thought it might be the variety, so I'm trying another type this year. However, don't think your broccoli will be better in the fall - mine wasn't. Didn't head until December. I found lots of frozen broccoli this spring. Instead of planting new plants, consider pruning the existing plants later this summer. That's what I'm going to do. But I think I will investigate your solution, Walshevak.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  walshevak on 5/22/2012, 7:06 pm

That was very interesting. I wonder if the fact I cut leaves off my broccoli twice for greens had anything to do with bring on the heads.

Kay

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  floyd1440 on 5/22/2012, 7:21 pm

OK I never have grow broccoli before and it has spread over other square yet no head yet.

Is it OK to cut back the bottom leaves or will it hurt the production of the heads?

:scratch:

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  walshevak on 5/23/2012, 5:59 am

I guess it will depend on the size of the plant. Mine were well over the sides of the square and stunting the growth of another plant. I cut 2 leaves off each of my 6 plants for cooking as greens, then a week later cut 2 more. Definately didn't hurt my heading. But I had enormous plants.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  llama momma on 5/23/2012, 6:08 am

HieronRemade--
A side note re: head size. When you finally get to cut a head of broccoli this Fall, the little buds should be no bigger than a match head. That reference point helped me anyway. Happy gardening!

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  1airdoc on 5/23/2012, 7:23 am

I have cut off a couple of bottom leaves from my broccoli plants because of size, and I have had beautiful heads of broccoli off those same plants.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  floyd1440 on 5/23/2012, 7:22 pm

@1airdoc wrote:I have cut off a couple of bottom leaves from my broccoli plants because of size, and I have had beautiful heads of broccoli off those same plants.

Thanks as I was concerned about the leaves shading my other plants so I took the liberty to trim several sets of leaves over the past 2 weeks. They are growing like weeds and are huge and I am hoping to see something from my broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower soon.

I hope........Shocked

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  marc-in-pa on 5/23/2012, 11:17 pm

I am having a similar experience... I think? This is my second time trying broccoli. The first time was a total fail. This time, the plants look a lot better. Worked on the nitrogen balance with the soil... but the heads are tiny. They are starting to look like the shot that HieronRemade posted, but maybe not as far along.

Above shot

Close up

Side view


Does this look like it should be harvested already? Thanks for any help.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  1airdoc on 5/24/2012, 8:46 am

That second image looks like your head is about to bloom. If so, it should be harvested; it's no good once it flowers.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/24/2012, 1:16 pm

I agree with 1airdoc, that second picture does look like it is about to sprout blossoms. I found a post feed (if that is what you call it) that has some discussion about broccoli. One mentions soaking broccoli in I think they said warm water and vinegar for 15 minutes to get rid of unwelcomed visitors. Here is the site: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7175-broccoli-ready-for-harvest

In the past I have had broccoli burst into blossoms before I realized it because I had been so focused on growing things, not harvesting. I had some just barely starting to blossom and I cut that part off and used the rest. You could probably use the part that blossomed like in soup or something where it isn't as important to have those pretty closed heads. Maybe someone else has ideas on that. Also, you will get side shoots that will give you smaller heads after you cut the main head off. Some may even start before the main head is cut off. I think it is the heat that triggers the heads to blossom.

I better keep an eye on my broccoli because I think I am doing that focusing on growing things and not so much on the harvesting.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  gregrenee88 on 5/24/2012, 1:20 pm

@Triciasgarden wrote:I agree with 1airdoc, that second picture does look like it is about to sprout blossoms. I found a post feed (if that is what you call it) that has some discussion about broccoli. One mentions soaking broccoli in I think they said warm water and vinegar for 15 minutes to get rid of unwelcomed visitors. Here is the site: http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t7175-broccoli-ready-for-harvest

In the past I have had broccoli burst into blossoms before I realized it because I had been so focused on growing things, not harvesting. I had some just barely starting to blossom and I cut that part off and used the rest. You could probably use the part that blossomed like in soup or something where it isn't as important to have those pretty closed heads. Maybe someone else has ideas on that. Also, you will get side shoots that will give you smaller heads after you cut the main head off. Some may even start before the main head is cut off. I think it is the heat that triggers the heads to blossom.

I better keep an eye on my broccoli because I think I am doing that focusing on growing things and not so much on the harvesting.



I agree! We had so much fun planning and planting and waiting. Cool

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

Post  marc-in-pa on 5/24/2012, 3:46 pm

Thanks for the advice! The plants ARE forming smaller heads on the side shoots. We'll see how they go a bit before putting the squares to more productive use.

It is a little frustrating that the main heads are about 2 inches across and hardly more than a mouthful per plant. Since I bought broc transplants, this is actually a money loser on this try. pale

On the bright side, it's a great improvement from the first go.

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Re: Is this broccoli done growing?

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