Broccoli is another plant that can be put in the ground before all of the frost is done.
Garden centers sell the plants, but it is actually quite easy to grow from seed.
I prepare my soil as usual.
Then I create several “dips” or—as I call them—“water-catchers” leaving about a foot and a half free at the edges of the bed and, if it is extremely long, also in the middle.
These dips will catch the rain and irrigation water and keep it right where the plants need it.
I then plant six or eight seeds around the inside edges of the dips and cover lightly with compost or old, rotted manure. Water the bed well.
Once the plants emerge, I slowly thin them taking out the smallest individuals first. As they continue to get bigger, the smaller ones get pulled until there is only one or two plants left in the dip.
After the danger of frost is gone, I plant marigolds in the spaces that were left free at the original sowing time. Two marigolds go into the edges and two more in the middle if the bed was particularly long. This helps tremendously to keep the cabbage moth away. The cabbage moth lays its eggs on all of the brassicas (plant family). Out come little green worms that not only eat the broccoli but leave a mess behind them. With marigolds in place, remarkably few cabbage moths find the broccoli.
The broccoli is ready to be picked when the head is full and firm (see picture).
Be sure to cut it on an angle. Broccolis will continue to give you side shoots well into the fall, but water can sit in the stem and rot it if it isn’t cut on an angle. As the side shoots get smaller, I freeze them and write “quiche” on the bag. These are ready to go into eggs or stir-fries.
The little yellow flowers here are a specific kind of marigold called "Lemon Gem." They are edible and their greenery puts off a lemon scent when rubbed.
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.