Category Archives: Broccoli

Wasp Spray Kills Wasps & Broccoli Seedlings

I have several trays of cabbage and broccoli seedlings on a porch table. We have a red wasp nest in the soffit above the table. A red wasp dive-bombed me so I sprayed toward it, not thinking about my seedlings. A breeze blew some of the insecticide onto the nearest seedlings. Within a few minutes the seedlings shriveled and the nearest were dead.

wasp sprayed seedlings

Note: don’t spray chemicals ANYWHERE around seedlings.

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Some Cabbage Heads, Some Cabbage Bolts

It must be the crazy winters down south.  The temperature variations must throw the cabbage plants off.  This past winter started out with an early frozen blast, then was mild for most of the winter and then ended in another frozen blast.

I get my thrills starting my cabbages and broccoli from seed.  Due to lack of garden space, I planted these in the tomato bed after the toms died out for the summer.  Both of these are early cabbages.  I would like to grow late cabbage, but it takes an additional 60 plus days to grow those large 8 to 10 pound heads.  I’m planning a couple of beds in the back where I will be able to grow my winter garden and will be able to fence the beds in and pull chicken wire over the top to keep the critters and deer out.

This pic shows heading cabbage next to cabbage that is forming its seed head, called bolting.  The empty spaces once held broccoli that has already been fully harvested.

cabbage going to seed and some heading

Here is a closeup.  From the leaves, these 2 plant look to both be Copenhagen Market cabbages.  They were started at the same time, from the same seed pack and planted the same day, however one forms a head and one bolts.  Why?
close up of cabbage bolting

Closeup of a decent head forming.  This is probably Copenhagen Market, but could be Glory of Enkhuizen.  Both are early cabbage, which means that the heads are smaller (maybe about 3 pound heads) because they are an early cabbage.
cabbage heading

A nice head of broccoli.  After I picked this head, side shoots formed.
broccoli closeup

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A Peek Under The Hoop

This is a quick peek under one of my 3 hoop gardens.  This one has broccoli at the front – this is the same broccoli that had the initial problem with downy mildew.  After a few treatments – discussed in a previous post – the plants seem small, but no sign of mildew.  These plants now have tiny heads – hopefully they will grow into big, harvest-able heads.

Midway back on the right side, in front of more broccoli, is bok choy.  Then there is broccoli, and spinach behind the broccoli.  On the left half of the bed, the small seedlings are spinach and lettuce.

a peek under the hoop

The other beds are more impressive – will try to post pics soon.

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What Is The Problem With These Broccoli Leaves?

Some of my broccoli seedlings are developing spots on the leaves.  They are mostly a black spot and gray on the bottom of the leaf.  This problem is affecting the bottom most leaves first and sort of working its way up the plant.  This problem is affecting only some of the beds with broccoli planted in and not other beds.

I can’t treat the problem until I can correctly diagnosis it.

broccoli leaf spots

This is the bottom of a broccoli leaf.  The leaf in the top right corner is a basil leaf.  The spots look different – probably another problem.

leaf spots on bottom of broccoli leaves

Looking online, I found 2 possibilities:  Downy Mildew – and alternaria.  Actually, it doesn’t resemble absolutely either issue, aka black leaf spot and gray leaf spot.

Downy Mildew  –  Peronospora parasitica

  • Gray-white sunken leaf spots which are often angular and restricted by the leaf veins
  • Leaf tissue around the spots turns yellow
  • Fuzzy gray growth can be seen on the underside of the leaves
  • Numerous black sunken spots can form on infected heads
  • Disease is common in cool wet weather

Black Leaf Spot/Gray Leaf Spot  –  Alternaria spp.

  • Gray to black round leaf spots with concentric rings
  • Leaf tissue becomes dry, brittle and often falls out, resulting in a ‘shot hole’ appearance
  • Leaf spots often appear first on lower older leaves

Neither of these symptoms absolutely accurately describes the problem, so I don’t know what to think. At this point, I can only hope that the issue stops racing up my broccoli plants. We had several days of wet weather, but are going to be dry for a few weeks – hopefully this will help.

Update- I did a bit of online research and decided to spray the plants in question.  I added 4 tsp of baking soda and 1 ounce of Need oil to a gallon of water (but only used half of it – put the other half gallon in a jug -hopefully it will keep for a week or so in case I need to spray again).   I sprayed the broccoli and cabbage plants with yellowing leaves.  I sprayed mostly the bottom of the leaves, but of course lots of the spray also got on the top of leaves.  I am a bit concerned about spraying baking soda on plants – previous experience has showed me that squash plants do not like this solution on their leaves.  Will update and let you know how this spray worked on the broccoli leaf spots.

Update Update- as of early December, these plants are under a plastic hoop cover.  There is very little trace of yellowing or spotted leaves, but the plants seem stunted.  Other broccoli & cabbages planted outside in the old tomato bed have grown taller than these, as have a few brocs in an adjacent covered bed.  It could be that two treatments killed off what I think was downy mildew, or could be the cold weather – we had to very cold blasts early in November – but for whatever reason, the surviving plants don’t seem to be growing as they should – in fact, they don’t look like they have gotten any bigger in the past month!  Also, this is the same half of the garden where my yellow wax beans that I planted in late summer did not thrive – DowAgriscience’s environmental toxin Aminopyralid revisited??

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Brassica Seedlings

Time to get the broccoli and cabbages started and in the ground.  This is usually a difficult thing for me because it is usually so hot until about the end of September and then it can cool down quickly and I just have a hard time trying to get cole crops started when it is so hot.  This is just something that I have to work on, having the discipline to start seedlings when the charts say to.

Today I started planting the largest of my cabbage seedlings.  A few days ago I started planting broccoli in a bed that will be covered with plastic on hoops this winter.  I have found that cabbage is more likely to survive our mildly cold winters, but that broccoli is best sheltered during freezes.  I will also plant cabbage in it once the beans and basil are harvested.  I like to rotate crops, but this can be difficult when I have to scatter crops here and there in my limited raised beds – as one crop finishes the next can go in.  Oh, if I only had plenty of room to plant stuff together in an organized manner!

broccoli and cabbage seedlings

After a few weeks the tiny seedlings above grew into the larger seedlings below.  These are red and green cabbage seedlings.
cabbage seedlings

Broccoli is on the left and cabbage on the right, below.  Once the seedlings get this big, it is easy to tell them apart.

I fertilize my seedlings with either mild miracle grow or fish fertilizer – one or the other, constantly until I put them in the ground.
broccoli and cabbage seedlings

More seedlings.  I started several batches of cole seedlings during the course of several weeks.  The seedlings in the back right are vinca flowers.  Vinca is very hard to start during the cool spring – when flowers need to be started for spring planting.  During the hot summer, however, they sprout all over the place as the vinca flowers turn to seed pods that mature and pop all over.  I dug a few up from the base of the larger vincas.  It would be cool if I could keep these tiny seedlings alive during the winter – that would give me a giant head start on the spring flowers – unless they stunt during the low light and cool winter.
seedlings including vinca

I actually start my seedlings in small propagation trays and then transplant them into these larger pots before they finally go into the ground.  I really don’t know if all that work is necessary on my small scale garden.

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Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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My Hoop Garden Is Taking Shape

I have prepared two of my raised beds for hoop gardens. I plan to do this for my 3rd bed that doesn’t have a raised cattle panel running down the middle of it.

The beds are made out of 16′ lengths of 1×6 treated lumber.  The boxes are 5′ wide.  I purchased four 20′ sections of 3/8″ rebar and had one of my sons cut them into 2′ sections.  I decided to put 7 hoops on each 16′ bed.  I pounded the 2′ sections of rebar 1′ into the ground, leaving 1′ above ground – the height of the bed side.   I used 10′ sections of gray electrical conduit to bend over the bed for the arch.  Each end of the conduit covers the raised 1′ section.  Hopefully this will be satisfactory to anchor the pressured ends of the conduit.  I plan to tie a piece of the gray conduit along the top of the arch to keep the pipes properly spaced.  I will then cover the arches with clear plastic.  I need to find a thick 50′ roll of plastic.  Twenty-five feet will cover each bed with enough to gather at the ends.  I need a roll that is at least 12′ wide so that it will cover the 10′ arch and leave at least a foot to lay on the ground and be weighed down by old garden timbers or lengths of wood.

I still need to work the ground around these beds – putting mulch around the beds.
hoop garden

Another view:
hoop garden

The winters here have been getting colder each year for a while now, so I am hoping these covered hoop beds will allow me to grow winter crops better.  On the list for my winter crops are:  cabbage, broccoli, spinach, lettuce – both leaf and cos, turnips, carrots, fava beans, peas and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.  Garlic doesn’t need to be protected from the freezes.

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Broccoli Resprouts and Bees in the Flowers

When you harvest your Broccoli, cut the main head – close to the head – and allow the plant to continue to grow. It will produce numerous more little heads all over.

Broccoli re-sprouts

Here is another broccoli plant with lots of re-sprouts, or side sprouts.

more broccoli side shoots

Just this week, in Kroger, I noticed these broccoli side sprouts for sale. They weren’t, of course, labeled side sprouts. I don’t recall what they were called, but they were a bit over twice the price of a regular head of broccoli.

I missed harvesting some side shoots here and the yellow flowers sprouted. I left them because they were full of bees. Here are a few pics with a bee in them.

a bee in the broccoli flowers

another bee in more broccoli flowers

I don’t think that I will be interested in saving these seeds.  If broccoli takes as long as turnips to grow and mature seeds, these plants won’t be in the ground that long.  I wouldn’t trust the quality of these seeds anyway -broccoli seeds should always be saved from the primary head.  Also, I don’t have near enough plants flowering for a quality seed.

I’m letting the flowers grow on the side shoots that I don’t harvest in time just for the bees – they need the food – there aren’t many things blooming at this time.

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Cauliflower?

I sprouted a few cauliflower plants and planted them in the location of this plant – I think this is cauliflower.  The shape of the tiny head is more like cauliflower than broccoli.   If it is, the head won’t be blanched – it is probably too late to tie the leaves over the head, covering it up.  It will mature as green cauliflower.  I recall planting a few cauliflower seedlings, but they were smaller than the broccoli sprouts.   These plants grow differently than broccoli plants – these leaf branches grow upwards and create a sort of funnel down to the head.

cauliflower?

Notice that along the sides of the beds I plant onions. I grow onions along the outside edges of my beds. I didn’t start many onion seeds, thus I need to buy onion sets, quickly. Time to get them in the ground!  Around here, we have to have our onions planted in late January, or at least by now, mid-February.  Onions need to be harvested before the hot weather of late spring – that means they need to be pulled in May.  Otherwise, the leaves die off when it gets hot.  Then, in the fall when cooler weather gets here, the lost bulbs re-sprout.  Very cute seeing all of the rejuvenated onions come back to life.

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Garden Broccoli vs. Store Bought Broccoli

Here is a comparison between garden grown broccoli and store bought broccoli.  The garden broccoli is on the left, it is looser and I prefer to pick it just before it flowers, usually after a couple of yellow flowers have bloomed.  We like the lighter crunch texture of the larger, almost blooming broccoli buds.  Each individual almost blooming bud has a nice, light hollow crunch.  The store broccoli is more of a solid, hard lump that takes effort to chew. The store broccoli was picked way too early, but crops harvested for store sale must be picked early to allow shipping time and shelf life.  (For all I know, the store broccoli may be an hybrid specifically bred to have tiny, hard buds, who knows).   I check my garden daily and pick broccoli when it is absolutely ready to eat.

garden broccoli vs store broccoli

If you don’t like store bought broccoli, I bet you WILL like fresh garden broccoli!

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