After four years of trying to get broccoli mature enough to save seed from, I gave up. I did not even check the seeded broccoli plants at last summer’s end to see if any were mature enough to save. I just could not keep up and so disheartened was I, I just moved on. Challenges kept me from starting my vegetable garden plants myself which is an unheard of thing except broccoli, pumpkins and cucumbers. I bought a few tomato plants croaking at the cost, not that is isn’t probably worth the money but it cuts into the budget. I will probably not get ripe tomatoes but instead have them all in the garage waiting to ripen since there is only 3 varieties so far I’ve had good success with.
Imagine my shock when I went out to spread the manure around more level in preparation to plant tomatoes and broccoli and on the edge of the piles, near the asparagus, were seven plants. Some of the broccoli’s seeds did reach maturity. SUCCESS!!!! What If I had not piled the manure, I would probably have had more.
After trying and trying, I finally got the plants big enough when I put them in. Coupled with the summer weather deciding on an extra long stay some reached maturity. In other words, everything aligned. Not that that will happen every year but enough encouragement to keep the experiment going. Now, I’m thinking of planting some of my seeds in the fall and see what happens. I’ve had several vegetable volunteers in numbers that makes me wonder if planting more of my garden in the fall would not be a good option. I’ll add broccoli to the list. This will not be my broccoli that makes seed but I want to see how it matures. More on that later. I’m working on a variety of greenhouses. For sure I could get some seed to mature in one year on the plants if I started them indoors and grew them larger than normally I would for just a crop. Keep in mind I do not pick any broccoli off of these few plants during the summer so they go straight to seed. Our season is just too short and this method is done for all seed saving projects.
This year I have DiCicco broccoli from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds and another one I’m experimenting with for the first time, Umpqua from Territorial Seed company, (one they developed). We shall see what happens. I do know there won’t be any forming of seeds this year since they are small plants. I will get to compare production and characteristics of the two kinds though and that is always useful. One should always experiment trying new kinds as there is a difference in performance, flavor, and seed saving capabilities.
Next, I need to try wintering over a broccoli plant in a bucket down in the crawl space. I see wintering over in a cool, protected area is the common method. For some silly reason I’m intimidated by it. I have tried to mulch and keep them in the garden several times –no luck. Not even stacked tires filled with mulch. So unsuccessful has my various tire/plant experiments been here that the tires are all in the dump. Change locations and it changes your gardening methods.
Another note – maybe a reminder for some of you – if you have trouble with flea beetles, put your broccoli in as plants. Our flea beetles do not arrive right away giving the small plants time to develop. They withstand the assault much better, the larger they are before the infestation. They are damaged but few if any killed. Also if you plant your broccoli with tomatoes, it confusing the beetle. The tomatoes have a strong odor masking the smell of broccoli. I do a tomato and then a broccoli, a tomato and then a broccoli etc., two rows of them. The broccoli are barely bitten, if any that way. I discovered this when I was doing a smell deterrent experiment. I have never read this anywhere else. I love inspiration! Now it is a staple. Keep in mind we have very little bug problems in Wyoming – just too cold – but it is definitely worth a try as I’ve had entire crops of broccoli wiped out by flea beetles. Something else that is strong smelling might also work. I’ve simply not tried.
All this and I don’t really like broccoli all that much. Kirk thinks it’s okay but the kids love it. They call it trees just like our children did. BUT, since broccoli is a cool weather plant and is good in a number of dishes I’ll trudge forward.
Anyone else growing their own broccoli seeds to use? What have you found works? Please include planting zone and climate notes. I may not be able to use it but someone else who reads this might.