Monday, 4 April 2016

Growing Broccoli

One of my family's favourite vegetable to eat is broccoli. In the cooler weather we try to eat it about 3 - 4 times a week.  In Summer if I'm cooking a hot meal and I have some broccoli in the freezer,  then it's added to the plate.

Unfortunately broccoli can cost a fortune when it's not in season.  Prices can skyrocket to $8.99 a kilo.  That's when I leave it on the shelf and find another dark green vegetable on sale or dig into my freezer stockpile.  During it's peak growing season prices can drop to under a  dollar per kilo.  I've been known to buy up big ( 5 - 6 kilos at a time ),  blanch then freeze for future meals.

Another way to keep broccoli stocks up is to grow your own.  A punnet of seedlings can cost as little as $3 from hardware / plant stores.  Usually a punnet will have 8 seedlings growing.  I try to find a punnet with 10 or more seedlings to get better value for money.

When the punnet is bought home,  it's placed into a container with water down the bottom and left for a week or two.  This gives the seedlings a good drink and the chance to grow and strengthen a little before planting.

Late March is planting time for us.  The hot weather is behind us and March is a great month to get in the garden.  Usually Darren digs some compost into the veggie garden beds one week before planting.  This allows everything to settle.

I plant the seedlings in rows simply because I love neatness - even in my garden.  Usually I space the seedlings 30 centimetres apart to allow enough room for growth.  They also need full sun during the day and regular watering when it doesn't rain..

Pests and bugs love broccoli plants so you'll need to be on the look out.  Cabbage moths,  snails and caterpillars love to munch away on the leaves.  I don't spray any pesticides on my veggie garden so I need to check the plants everyday for cabbage moth eggs.  I squash them with my fingers and flick off caterpillars and squash them with a stick.   A few years ago I discovered a pet friendly snail bait. called Multiguard.  It's usually on the shelf next to the toxic snail bait and costs about the same.  This needs to be sprinkled around each plant every few weeks to keep the snails at bay.

Once the broccoli heads have grown to a good size,  cut them off underneath the head.  Within a week or two you'll have little florets growing on the plant.  Cut these off as they are wonderful to use in stir fries and pasta bakes etc.  The florets will continue to grow for another few weeks.

Of course you end up with a lot of broccoli all in one hit.  There's only so much broccoli you can eat within a week or two so I try to blanch as much as possible and freeze for future meals.  I blanch the cut up broccoli in boiling water for about one minute until the broccoli changes color to a bright vibrant green.  Then it's washed in cold water to stop the cooking process. The broccoli is placed on cooling racks until completely cold then spread out on biscuit baking trays and placed in the freezer for 2 - 3 hours.  This is known as flash freezing and it prevents the broccoli sticking together.

Once the broccoli is frozen I place it in small freezer bags that contain enough for one meal.  Then I place a few into a bigger bag to prevent freezer burn.


Growing in our garden last year.
Newly bought seedlings
Neat rows.
Florets picked from the plants.
Broccoli bought on sale to boost my stockpile.
Blanching.
How to grow instructions
Pet friendly snail bait.
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9 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy,

    Love Broccoli!!! I grew Broccoli last year and I put a tarp over the top sort of like a green house. It still got warm enough and enough sunlight and NO BUGS. I don't think they could get in, heeee. We had heaps growing last year. The year before, I was always out every night with the torch trying to catch the bugs and they still got to the Broccoli so this year, I will be putting the tarp back over.

    Thanks, Maureen

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  2. The broccoli leaves are highly nutritious too and she always be eaten :) The stalks are great in a stir fry or soup and can also be grated to go into spaghetti bol or rissoles

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  3. I love broccoli! It feels so good for you and is so delicious.
    We're holding off planting too much as it continues to be so dry here, hoping for rain very soon!

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  4. Wendy, this is a great post. We love broccoli, and my daughter takes steamed broccoli in her school lunch to eat like chips! I'll try growing some as yes, it does get very expensive indeed! Love, Mimi xxx

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  5. Hi Wendy!
    Some shredded newspaper under your plants and wetted with each watering will help with the moisture and also sandpaper helps with snails and slugs because it's too rough for them to crawl on. I have seeds started, but still no planting yet. I love seeing your garden and fresh veggies!
    XOXO
    Vicky

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  6. Beautiful Wendy, so healthy and good. What a saving as well. xxx

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  7. Apparently beer is a great snail killer. Popping some small jars with beer in them at ground level attracts the snails, they get drunk, drunk and die. I have seen it done by many gardeners not willing to use chemicals. I have not tried it myself however.

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  8. I love to grow broccoli, as well. It seems to get less "buggy" if I grow it in early spring or in the fall. During the summer, we get lots of aphids, as well as the cabbage worms, etc., but they don't seem to like the cooler weather. Some years, we get a great crop, some years--not so much, but I usually try. I grow a broccoli blend so all of the heads don't get ready at once. I still get a lot at once:)

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  9. Keep cabbage moth caterpillars etc from eating broccoli cabbages and caulies by planting a row of stinging nettles between every two rows of
    plants. Works a treat and the young nettles can be eaten as well in soups etc - This was used by an old market gardener we knew.

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