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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.

Friday PhotoEssay

Even with a couple of hotter days this week, I have to confess that I’ve really been enjoying the weather. The cool mornings are the best! Unfortunately, it means that our melons and eggplant have really slowed down. The tomatoes are still going pretty strong.

I think I may show the view of the garden from this angle for a few weeks, at least until we take those cherry tomatoes down off the trellis. The vegetable arbor is kind of blocking the view of the rest of the garden. This way you can see the awesome blue-green color of all the Brassicas. I’m also thinking about doing a “Year in Review” PhotoEssay later this fall. It will be kind of a “time lapse” look at the garden through the whole summer. Look for that in early November, perhaps?

Look at this! I’ve been watching the broccoli and cauliflower closely, expecting that they may start forming heads soon, and this broccoli plant is just now getting started. I kind of thought the two sprouting broccoli varieties might have been earlier, but I guess not.

This cauliflower plant looks like it might be thinking about starting a head in the center. Lots of the newer varieties are self-blanching (meaning the wrapper leaves curl over the heads to help keep them nice and white), and I wonder if that’s what’s going on with these little new leaves in the center.

This savoy, ‘Famosa’ cabbage is starting to form the head in the center. All the cabbage seem to be starting to form heads, although with all the caterpillar damage, I’m not sure how edible they will be! This one seems to have the least damage, maybe because of the ruffly leaves?

I was out at the John C. Pair Horticulture Research Center down in Haysville last night. When we were out in the sweet potato fields, there were tons of toads hopping all over! I managed to get a picture of this one. It’s pretty amazing how well he blends in with the color of the soil!

Have a great weekend!

 

Continuing Caterpillar Saga

Yesterday morning we inspected all our Brassicas to see if we still had more caterpillars to deal with.

Um, yes. Yes we did. I know you see the bigger cabbageworm, but do you see the tiny one too? It’s along the purple midrib. These guys start really small but eat and grow quickly. Yuck. We also found some eggs that haven’t yet hatched.

We dusted with Dipel Dust to see if we could get better control. Of course, with the shaker cans, it is a real challenge to get even coverage and not put on too much. If we aren’t seeing better control by later in the week, we may have to bring out the big guns…I saw that one single cabbage butterfly can lay up to 300 eggs in its lifetime. I really don’t want these caterpillars to get to the adult stage!

Ugh…Caterpillars

Look what got munched on over the weekend?

I knew we were going to be fighting a long, grueling battle against the cabbageworms this fall, but I (mistakenly) thought that they wouldn’t start hatching out and eating until today or tomorrow instead of over the weekend. To see how quickly they started, there was virtually no sign of them on Friday. This morning the plants look like Swiss Cheese. UGH! I sprayed Spinosad this morning, and we will probably dust with Dipel either tomorrow or later this week.

Planting Fall Vegetables, Part 1

We planted the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage into Bed 2 this week, as well as a couple plants of purple cauliflower and broccoli that are in the Kids’ Snack Garden. It may be a bit of a challenge to have a successful harvest from this group, although the long-range forecast looks excellent for a fall garden! The unfortunate thing is that there seem to be lots of insects around, including some of the Imported Cabbageworm moths. Between caterpillars and the “drought” in my office a couple weeks ago, some of the plants were a little sad. Luckily, we found enough good looking ones of almost all the varieties. The only variety that was a problem was the ‘Purple of Sicily’ heirloom cauliflower, which apparently had poor germination that I didn’t notice.

We planted the transplants 3 across in the bed, roughly lined up with emitters in the drip line (although we haven’t turned on the water in weeks!), and spaced more or less evenly across the bed. This gives each plant about 16″ of space, which is a little bit tight, but we are making up for it the other direction, allowing 24″ between varieties.

Here’s the entire bed after planting. We did add a little bit of fertilizer to the soil, because these are crops that really like a lot of nitrogen. We should be okay on that, but in this case I would rather be over than under. I’m also assuming that the rain may be leaching some of the nutrients out. We did not water everything, since the soil was moist and the plants had all been out in the rain overnight.

We also put a coating of Dipel Dust (Bacillus thuringiensis) on all the seedlings, since we’ve already had caterpillars. I really don’t want to lose the seedlings.

Here’s the corner we planted in the Kids’ Snack Garden. We planted a white cauliflower, a purple cauliflower, and a purple sprouting broccoli. Yes, I did have to pull out a couple of the cantaloupe plants to make a little more space. Yes, there were cantaloupes on them. Oops.

So, the varieties.

Broccoli

‘Santee’ Purple Sprouting Broccoli – This is a type of broccoli that puts out lots of smaller side shoots rather than a big head. The broccoli also has a darker purple tinge to it.

‘Apollo’ Sprouting Broccoli – Same as the ‘Santee’ but green. The sprouting broccoli is supposed to mature and produce sooner than the regular heads.

‘Arcadia’ Broccoli – Mid-season variety that is supposed to have good cold tolerance and produce nice side shoots as well as the main head.

‘Imperial’ Broccoli – This variety is more heat tolerant and grows slowly in cold weather. It will be interesting to compare the two varieties!

‘Purple Peacock’ Sprouting Broccoli (Kids’ Garden) – This is a broccoli-kale cross that already has neat leaves. You can eat the leaves or the loose heads.

Cauliflower

‘Veronica’ – This is a green, romanesco type cauliflower. The head is bright green, and instead of having the rounded heads it has very angular curds.

‘Amazing’ – This is your classic white cauliflower that has self-blanching wrapper leaves. (Often you have to tie up the leaves to get a nice white head.) It is supposed to have both heat and cold tolerance.

‘Cheddar’ – This is an orange cauliflower. We’ve grown it before, but in the spring.

‘Purple of Sicily’ – This is an heirloom variety that has purple heads. Because it is an heirloom, I’m expecting the heads to be more mottled purple and white rather than solidly purple.

‘Denali’ (Kids’ Garden) – Another white variety that has good heat and humidity tolerance. We’ll give the humidity part a test, that’s for sure!

‘Graffiti’ (Kids’ Garden) – This is a hybrid purple variety that is much more uniformly purple.

Cabbage

‘Famosa’ – This is a green, savoy cabbage. (Savoy basically means crinkly leaves.)

‘Ruby Perfection’ – A red, smooth leaf cabbage. It has round heads and is typically 4-6 pounds.

‘Tendersweet’ – A green cabbage that has flattened heads. It typically has thinner leaves and a very sweet flavor.

‘Deadon’ – This is a red-green savoy cabbage that gets more red with the cold and has very good cold tolerance. The recommendation is to harvest them in early winter after several frosts or freezes!

When we selected varieties, we tried to get a range of different varieties, while looking for those with characteristics that would help them be successful here in the fall. The challenge was if we should choose cold tolerance for the later part of the season or heat tolerance for the first part of the season!

Thinking about all these beautiful cabbages has me almost ready for fall!