Looking at the Broccoli

I promised at least one non-Friday PhotoEssay post this week, so I guess I had better get on that! I thought about delaying because a couple of the pictures I wanted to include are on my camera at home, but I decided that was likely a recipe for not getting the post written.

Last Friday, I harvested a couple heads of broccoli from the garden. One was a huge, beautiful, dark green head of ‘Imperial’ broccoli. The others were small, oddly shaped, slightly yellowish-brown heads of ‘Apollo’ Sprouting broccoli.

This is the ‘Imperial’ broccoli. Isn’t that a nice head? Gorgeous!

Compare that to these three smaller heads of the ‘Apollo.’ Now, to be fair, the ‘Apollo’ is billed as a sprouting broccoli, which means that it isn’t intended to grow large central heads. In fact, I probably should have cut these small heads off sooner to encourage more side branching. Still, the color isn’t as nice either.

This is the side view of one of the ‘Apollo’ heads. Not a very nice specimen, is it? Again, it isn’t unexpected for a sprouting broccoli, but it is very different!

What I had hoped to show with the pictures from my camera at home is the process of getting the broccoli ready to use when you have had an onslaught of cabbage loopers and cabbageworms. If you’ve never had the experience of harvesting broccoli from the garden, well…let’s just say that if there were caterpillars on the leaves, they are probably in the head of broccoli too. What I did is cut all the broccoli up into pieces, and then I soaked it in a bowl of warm salt water for about 30 minutes. Given the caterpillar challenges of this fall, I was expecting to see a whole bunch of caterpillars floating on the top of the water that I could photograph…but there weren’t any! Once I put the broccoli in the pot for cooking, I could see half a dozen tiny to small caterpillars in the bottom of the bowl, and I found one more in the pot after cooking. But…it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting! I guess we did a pretty good job keeping the caterpillar population under control after all.

The other thing that I’m going to keep watching now that we’ve harvested some of the broccoli (the Master Gardeners harvested 2 more heads of ‘Imperial’ yesterday), is if the supposed sprouting broccoli produces more shoots than the ‘Imperial.’ Most broccoli will produce some side shoots after you harvest the main head, so we’ll have to see if there’s a noticeable difference between quantity and quality of side shoots.

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on October 16, 2013, in Around the Garden and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Those darn Caterpillars!! They gross me out! I try so hard to find them … hoping I got them all before serving the family dinner.

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