Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bolting Broccoli

I wasn't sure if anyone would actually ask me anything but yesterday I opened my email quite late in the evening, around 11:00, and there it was, an email.

Reatha wrote to me the following:

"Hi! You told me to e-mail you with questions. Talking to a friend at church this morning, we are both having problems with our broccoli plants going to flower (seems like) too soon. Any suggestions? Thank you."

Well, I have had the exact same problem. I like to plant something and just let it grow the first time to see what happens under normal conditions. I really like things that just grow without me having to nurture it alot.

The thing about broccoli is that it likes cool weather. If you need a jacket then broccoli is thrilled, at least as much as a plant can be. It can take below freezing temperatures and likes it. This is a winter vegetable as far as eating the florets goes. Once it gets above 70 degrees it thinks it's time to make babies which means all that lovely veggie goodness you have come to know a broccoli becomes yellow flowers. This isn't bad as long as you want seeds for more plants next season.

To solve this problem there are a few things you can do. Depending on the temperature depends on how much you need to do. The object is to keep the roots cold enough that the plant doesn't think it's warmed up yet.

First off you can mulch around the plants to insulate the ground. As long as the average temperature, that is day and night, is still well below 70 then this may be enough.

Second, you may need to water frequently. Let the waterhose run for a little bit so that the cool water from the underground water lines starts to come out so the cool water can bring the ground temperature back down.

Third, and this is something I have done just to keep moisture in the ground is to use ice. Don't worry about killing the plant. What will happen is that the sun will melt the ice and nearly freezing water will saturate the roots.

Once again this goes back to my citrus growing. I had my lemon tree on the back porch of the office where it was getting hot and I probably needed more dirt in the first place. I realized that our ice maker made an entire bin of ice every day and I figured that it needed to be used. So, I poured it on the dirt making sure it wasn't against the trunk and there you go. It kept the soil moist for hours during the hot part of the day.

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