Friday, October 29, 2010
My broccoli is doing extremely well this year. The leaves on my plants are large, thick and a healthy dark green. And each plant has a good size head in the center. As a matter of fact, I have one head that is just about ready to pick...likely in a few days.
I love broccoli in my fall garden. This year I planted Green Magic, a variety that tolerates heat very well, produces uniform greenish-blue heads, freeze well and is ready in about 60 days.
Here in hot South Texas, broccoli does much better in the fall garden than it does in the spring garden. With the temperate conditions and warm soil of the fall garden, a broccoli plant can potentially produce a head 2 inches bigger than the same variety might produce in the spring. The trick is to get the fall crop off to a good start during the late summer heat. I planted mine at the end of August this year, and so far...so good.
Unlike last year.
My broccoli was a complete failure last year and I think I figured out why. I'm pretty sure my plants suffered from a condition called blindness, which means the terminal growing point of the plant is missing. When a broccoli plant has this condition, the foliage is dark green, large, thick and leathery, but has no center growing point. This anomaly can occur when the terminal growing point is damaged due to cold temperatures (exposure to 50F or lower for an extended period of time), cutworms (which I think was my problem), or trauma during transplanting.
Another potential problem with broccoli plants is called buttoning, which means that heads exist, but they are abnormally small heads of curds (buttons) and the plants are immature. The leaves are small and do not cover the head. This can occur from lack of nitrogen, shock from cold temperatures, or drought stress.
Thankfully, my broccoli plants have managed to escape these two common problems and are thriving and producing beautiful fruit. For this (and many other things), I am thankful.