Tag Archives: Broccoli

How to improve the germination of seeds

broccoli seedlings
broccoli seedlings

As cool, moist fall air banishes the hot, dry summer, my Arizona garden breathes a sigh of relief—and so do I. I’m busy at work, but my time in the garden is pleasant now.

Although my rows look empty from a distance, a close inspection reveals a bounty of tiny seedlings. My main fall crop is broccoli, accompanied by staggered plantings of beets, cabbage, lettuce, turnips, and other semi-frost-resistant veggies.

I planted the first row and four days later sowed another with the same mixture of seeds. Today, several weeks following the initial sowing, I stand between the rows with the startling realization that the seedlings planted most recently are at the same level of development and hardier than the earlier ones.

How can this be true? The seeds planted first should be farther along, right? Continue reading How to improve the germination of seeds

Me and My Shovel

Me and My ShovelThis is me, preparing the garden for the fall crop. I don’t own a tiller.

Oh, I purchased the contraption once—under the mistaken impression that every good gardener should have one. It was expensive . . . hard to start . . . at the repair shop more often than not. It was loud, heavy, and whipped up the soil like my KitchenAid mixer with cream.

It’s not good for the garden bed to be disturbed that way. Continue reading Me and My Shovel

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.

Last Year’s Broccoli

Broccoli-2nd Year productionI harvested the first of the season’s broccoli…but it was on last year’s plant.

The row of broccoli I planted this fall in my Arizona garden isn’t producing yet. This tough guy, however, survived from last year, through constant triple-digit summer temperatures, to leaf out and produce for the second season. Continue reading Last Year’s Broccoli