Extend the Broccoli Season

Broccoli offshootsWarm spring breezes waft through my Arizona garden, telling my vegetables that a change of season lies ahead.

The broccoli sown last fall begins its reproductive cycle. Nature tells it to lift upwards to the sky, flower, and set seed. Many plants turn bitter when this process begins and must be pulled out of the garden. Broccoli, however, retains its flavor better than some veggies, such as lettuce.

The heirloom varieties I grow produce one small central head. After removing the crown, I leave the plant in the garden to produce small offshoots (two – three inches wide). Production continues until the weather becomes too hot.

I use a colander and a sharp knife each morning to harvest offshoots. If any stems have begun to flower, I snip them off and give them to the chickens or compost them. Trimming the plants each day keeps the crop in production, extending the harvest. I gather more produce from the offshoots than from cutting the central heads.

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