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|
|Florets picked from the plants.|
|Broccoli bought on sale to boost my stockpile.|
|How to grow instructions|
|Pet friendly snail bait.|