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Thursday, July 22, 2010

garden report: the brassicas

we had a lot of fun growing some brassicas this year! in truth we didn't get a ton of food out of our little beds of broccoli and cauliflower, but for a first attempt, it was quite enough to be worth it. and, some of the side-sprouting varieties are still delivering!

our biggest producer, pictured above, was umpqua. these plants made tight heads about the size of two fists, and in the joints where the big leaves meet the stems, smaller heads sprout. the sprouts are great raw in salads, stir fried, steamed, and roasted, depending on their size. i'll definitely try umpqua again next year.

another good producer was italian green sprouting calabrese. these, too, had nice fat heads and plenty of side sprouts, though the sprouts are more wispy. these guys are finished sprouting since i let them go to flower, and the plants are about 3 1/2 feet tall! i should pull them up, but i'm kinda liking their sprays of yellow flowers.

third on the list was decicco. about half of these died right out, and the other half made healthy fist-sized heads. these heads weren't quite as tight as the other two, and that made for a nice variety in texture when we cooked them together. these, too, offered some good side sprouts. 

this one is called purple peacock, and it's a cross between green goliath broccoli and two different kales. i didn't get to the heads in time to try them-- they were slow and loose, and i was never really sure when was the right time to cut these. this head is beginning to flower-- did you know broccoli is the flower of the plant, you're just eating it before it blooms? i didn't. 

purple peacock's leaves are edible, like kale, but i haven't tried them yet. like with last year's kale, the aphids have been a problem. it's a really pretty plant, though! i know a lot of people were growing this one this year. i'm curious to learn what other people thought of it.

**cooking tip i learned! submerge broccoli from the garden in a bowl of salted water for 30 minutes before cooking in order to drive out any hidden aphids!

we planted one variety of cauliflower, snow crown. out of the 8 or so starts we planted, about 3 produced small heads, enough for one pan of roasted cauliflower for 2. but again, being able to bring any amount of cauliflower in from the backyard for dinner was exciting! i'll likely give it another shot next year, and just pay more attention to what they need, and to killing the awful, awful slugs who would eat 'em.  

so, that about wraps up the backyard, early-season garden. now we're just down to the herbs! the salad bowl fed us quite well for months before i decided to let it go on to its next life. once i get the beds cleaned out, it's time to plant some fall crops! beets? carrots? more broccoli? we'll see. 


  1. Nice job! I go back and forth on broccoli every year. I love bringing it in and having it...but it always seems to take up so much space for so little goods. I think i'll try raab next year. I hear cauliflower is really difficult to grow fantastic! Mine are tiny and alive..but certainly no heads! Congrats!

  2. hey meg!

    they do take up a ton of real estate, don't they? i was surprised by how huge they got. i'm still not sure how best to use our little 3x8' bed back there-- it's way too shady for summer crops, but too small for a big harvest of most stuff, and greens bore me! still experimenting!