Coolest Broccoli Tip Ever

Many home gardeners either just don’t grow broccoli, struggle to get as much as they hoped for, or it isn’t really all that good to eat in the summer heat. I can help. The coolest trick I have ever learned I picked up from Organic Gardening Magazine decades ago.  Like the other brassicas: cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collards, etc., broccoli loves water and fertility. The faster you grow these plants the bigger they can get, the milder their edible parts, and the fewer pests they will attract. But, even if you are failing you can still save your plants to get all the heads you need from broccoli plants that only produced small, off-flavor heads the first time around. After harvesting the main, central head do NOT continue to harvest the side shoots as they grow larger like everyone else does! Instead, carefully cut most of them off at the same time you harvest the main shoot. Start at the top of the plant and work downward, leaving only one or two of the very smallest shoots at the very bottom of the plant. You can still eat the shoots (and leaves) that you have cut off, even though they might not be as large and ripe as you would like. Regardless, those few shoots that you have left at the bottom will grow up to produce large heads, especially if you water and feed the plant well. Just keep following this proceedure every time you harvest central heads from those new shoots. Be careful to use a sharp knife and cut away from the plant. I pass the blade down the main stem and twist the knife outward to cut off the shoots. Sure it takes a little time and focus, but as the season progresses they will multiply to far outproduce the traditional approach, and continue to grow right into winter when they will taste their best. My “pruned” broccolis often end up growing to more than three feet tall before the hard frosts ultimately kill them. By then my wife, Karen, and I have put enough in the freezer to last until we get a new crop in late spring (unless we grow some through the winter with protection). Try this tip and you will be hooked!

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