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Posts Tagged ‘broccoli’

IMG_9688It’s actually quite pathetic. We got some broccoli and some radishes, but only enough to make side dishes for one meal.

The broccoli was just sauteed in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon. The radishes were cooked in butter with some chives.

Simple, but very good!

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We’ve tried for a couple of years to get great broccoli but it’s not working for us. Earlier this month we had a crazy hot spell — something you’d expect in July and not early May — with temperatures in the 80s and creeping toward 90 on some days.

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

It started really well — big leaves and small, compact broccoli heads. But once the temperatures spiked, it was all over. What broccoli was growing started to bolt. The stalks were separating and starting to produce flowers. Some of the other ones weren’t even growing (though now that the weather has cooled significantly, they seem to be bouncing back.)

Oh well. We plan try again in the fall, starting from seeds. Next year, I’m going to use our old garden beds as cold frames and get the broccoli, peas and lettuce started way early. Maybe even February. Maybe even when there is still snow on the ground. We’ll see how it goes.

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

Random side note:  This year when we cut the main heads, I discovered a cluster of what looked like yellow eggs on one of the broccoli stems. After a bit of searching, I came up empty as to what it was. Best guess was maybe ladybugs, but those looked like shinier eggs. It could just be a bunch of pollen trapped in a spider web, too. Has anyone else seen something like this?

 

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We’re now in mid-April and all our early spring crops are looking good! I’m kind of amazed at how much we have planted so far.

There are peas (sugar snap and snow), spinach, radishes, carrots, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and onions all doing really well, along with the garlic planted in the fall and chives that come back every year. Most of those are repeats from previous years, except the onions.

We decided to grow onions on a whim this year, even though they’re cheap to buy at the grocery store. After successfully growing garlic last season and learning how much better the homegrown variety was, we suspect onions will be the same. I found a bag of onion sets (they look like tiny, slender onions) that had red, yellow and white onions so we’re trying each variety. There are also a few squares we’ll use for onion seeds to have another later harvest (and for green onions).

We have tons of broccoli this year because the cell packs I bought had nine plants each instead of six, and I decided to try two different varieties. Some are planted in the garden beds and others in containers; same idea with the Brussels sprouts, which we can move around to find the ideal conditions/area for them to grow.

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We’re back! I know it’s been months since the last post — 2014 was a big year. I got married and got a new job! Both really exciting things but with all the ensuing happy craziness, it left little to no time for blog posts (or much gardening, to be honest).

Last year our garden did OK — not great, but not too terrible. Part of it is because of the aforementioned life events, part of it because of the cooler summer weather, part of it because of the constant plague of garden pests and creatures we have, but it’s mostly because we weren’t keeping up with it. It also probably didn’t help when the garden was more or less ignored for more than a week while we were on our honeymoon.

This season we’re practically starting over — new raised bed boxes, new soil and new method. We’re trying more of the square foot gardening method to get as much out of our efforts as possible. We’ve also built new boxes and filled most of them with Mel’s Mix, the “perfect garden soil” formula from the books.

We know not everything is going to be perfect. For starters, we added Mel’s Mix on top of the soil and whatever else is there: leaves left over from the fall, a bunch of plants I forgot to pull out (do carrots overwinter?), and likely a handful of those little veggie and herb tags that have been unwittingly mixed in over the years.

Snow in early March delayed our garden plans.

Snow in early March delayed our garden plans.

Second, we’re getting a later start on spring planting. Again. This is out of our control — it doesn’t help (or motivate you) when in early March everything is still covered in snow and is then followed by days upon days of rain. This past weekend was our first nice one (sunshine! warmer temperatures!) in a long time.

Finally, we know our garden won’t be perfect because, let’s face it, life has an odd sense of humor. This weekend is a perfect example. After spending a few hours at several different stores gathering wood for the new beds and the ingredients for our soil mixture, we grabbed the wheelbarrow so we didn’t have to lug 40-pound bags of compost to the back yard.

And guess what? Our wheelbarrow, which we rarely use, had a flat tire. Luckily our neighbor, who is an avid and awesome gardener herself, let us borrow hers. Oh, and to top it off, the drill ran out of batteries when we had our last three screws to put in the last of four raised bed boxes.

This year we’ll post more (I promise!) as we go through our gardening adventure, sharing ideas and experiments from last season, as well as all the successes and failures we have (hoping it’s more of the former this time).

In the meantime, here’s our rough planting plan for this year. I’m sure we’ll move things around when they actually get planted. The garlic is in a different place in both beds because, as usual, I forget where I planted them until the shoots start poking through the ground. And also, I got a little overzealous when buying our broccoli — we have 18 plants now, and I’ll probably experiment some more with container growing.

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Since we put everything in the ground, there’s not much to report and most of it seems to be doing well. I think the rain and warm, but not too hot, temperatures helped the plants along.

The broccoli has big healthy leaves, and a couple of plants are starting to form heads. The peas have sprouted and are starting to grow tendrils, and the row of radishes did so well it really needs to be thinned. Our lettuce is forming nice little leaves, and even the spinach has stopped looking like grass and grown its “true leaves.”

I keep waiting for the garlic to sprout its scapes, but so far it hasn’t happened yet. The four elephant garlic that survived are huge! They come all the way up to my hip, and I can’t imagine how big these bulbs will be, but we’re excited to find out!

We’re also discovering some mystery plants, and I’ll share those pictures later. If they are what I think then we’re going to be stocked on seedlings this year!

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Our garlic, left, growing strong in front of the peas, and our newly planted broccoli, with garlic behind it.

Our garlic, left, growing strong in front of the peas, and our newly planted broccoli, with garlic behind it.

It was much later than we planned, but we finally have our spring plants in the ground. The weather was so radical in its swings – warm, sunny days followed by freezing temperatures, a bit of snow and days of heavy rain – I was afraid if we planted any earlier nothing would survive.

So right now we have broccoli, spinach, lettuce, radishes and snow/sugar snap peas in the ground.

All seem to be doing well, even though it’s only been about week. And now that we’re “veteran broccoli growers,” we know what to keep an eye on as far as leaf/bug issues.

The squirrels have been digging a bit, probably trying to find the last of the acorn stash, and even turned up a few pea seeds. But, the good news is they were sprouting, so we’ll at least have a few plants! We’ll have to find some method to keep them out until everything germinates and is coming up, maybe some netting will help.

We also have some kale seeds started in small cell packs to transplant when they get bigger. The garlic is also looking great, and we can’t wait until we’re able to harvest it.

 

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Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it.

Our lettuce looked promising when we transplanted it, but it hasn’t grown much bigger than this.

As some of our space cleared from summer vegetables that stopped producing or died, we were really excited to plant our fall garden. Peas could go where the cucumber was, lettuce could take over the first bed, Brussels sprouts and broccoli could fill in wherever they’d fit. It was a great plan, or so we thought.

We should have known that when multiple sowings of lettuce, spinach and broccoli seed never sprouted that it was probably a bad sign. I assumed we hadn’t watered them enough, the seeds were bad, something. So we decided to try to start everything in pots and transplant where needed later.

This part worked wonderfully. We had lots of baby lettuce and almost a dozen Brussels sprouts plants.

The peas we planted in place started to sprout and grow. It looked promising.

But looking promising and being productive are two different things, and our fall garden excitement quickly turned to disappointment.

The lettuce transplants look great, but they aren’t any bigger than the day we put them in the raised beds. All the Brussels sprouts either wilted or had their leaves chewed by something. And the kale we tried to grow in a pot? Knocked over and spilled everywhere –probably as a result of the squirrels trying to bury acorns wherever they can.

While it was unfortunate we couldn’t keep the harvest going into the cooler months, we’ll try again next year. And we hope, with a little more planning, we’ll have a fantastic fall garden.

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