Growing Broccoli (2010 crop)

In past years, we have started broccoli from seed which gives you much better choice regarding varieties and is also far cheaper. However, this year, we ran out of time so we went with a small amount of store bought transplants. I am a little worried that we are planting somewhat late for broccoli (as it doesn't like summer heat), but thought we would give it a shot and see what happens. The variety we chose is called "Packman," which is somewhat tolerant to summer heat. We spaced these transplants out about 2 feet and in 85 days, we should have some broccoli out of these.

In about two-three weeks the young broccoli plants had progressed to this stage
Small broccoli heads had formed by June 19th. These will be ready to harvest soon.
Just a few days later we were able to harvest our first heads of broccoli. They were delicious! Here's a tip for you. If you didn't spray for broccoli (cabbage) worms (which we didn't) you should soak the heads in vinegar or salt water for a minute or two before cooking. This will cause the worms to crawl out of the broccoli heads (if present). These worms are EXACTLY the same color of the broccoli and are very hard to see. Believe me... you need to do this step. One year I steamed a bunch of broccoli before doing this. I ended up with a pot of bloated and steamed worms. Needless to say... I didn't enjoy that broccoli much. Anyway, the worms are perfectly harmless, so go ahead and pick them off.... no problems at all. If this part grosses you out....just think of how many chemicals must be applied to broccoli you buy in the store in order to kill these buggers... think about it.
My now headless broccoli will grow some side shoots for a harvest later on so there is no need to plant more at this time. However, just a week after we harvested... we noticed tell tale signs of worm infestations. Holes in the leaves with little caterpillar turds. Definitely had some broccoli worms going on here. A quick investigation yielded plenty of worms.
Anyway, Swampy Acres Farm... tries (sometimes half-assed) to be organic. Now the organic solutions to broccoli worms is to use BT spray or you can also use row covers to exclude the moths (seen below). You can also look for the eggs and scrape them off. Now... I don't really have the time or energy to look around my broccoli plants for eggs. If you have enough spare time go for it. At any rate, I got lazy and just used synthetic pesticide. I used Ortho Bug-B-Gone which has an active ingredient of Esfenvalerate. This pesticide has a half-life of 15 days to 3 months, and has a very low chance of ground water contamination due to it binding with soil. If you are going to choose a "non-organic" synthetic pesticide, this is a good choice.
Broccoli Moth Adults and Eggs
Site Map
By July 5th, many of the plants were putting out side shoots that can be harvested later.
However in the heat, a few of the plants had bolted (flowered). Obviously these plants aren't going to be very tasty as the heads have now turned to flowers. However, this is the danger of trying to grow broccoli in mid-summer. Even in New Hampshire, it is just too hot for this cool weather crop.
By late July, I had a few more broccoli heads to pick. It seems like they got somewhat of a "second wind."
All in all we had a reasonable broccoli harvest for the year. The worms seemed to be adequately controlled with just one small spraying.... although I am sure they will be back with a vengence next year.