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Mature broccoli plant

Several of you asked very astute questions on my broccoli post last week. Let's see if I can some up the answers all in one post.

In terms of variety selection, I haven't really hit a dud yet...but I also choose those that promise one big head (since you can always get multiple smaller heads later after cutting the main event). I've grown Packman, Marathon, and Blue Wind, and as I recall they all did great for me. Blue Wind is the variety we're growing this year.

Planting dates will vary widely depending on where you live and what type of spring you're experiencing. I've had best luck starting mine inside at the beginning of March, then transplanting into the garden as soon as there will be no lows below 28. This year, that date came early --- March 27.

Buggy broccoli

And then there are the questions none of you asked, but which I think are equally important to producing good broccoli. First --- food. Broccoli is a very hungry crop, so the more you can feed them the better. They also need full sun to put on those fast growth spurts before the bugs hit.

Which brings me to the biggest problem organic growers will have with broccoli --- caterpillars. The big green cabbage worms actually don't bug us much as long as we plant early and I squash the few I notice, but the less obvious southern cabbage worms can be a doozy. See that head in the second photo above with spaces between its florets? Southern cabbage worms have been eating it from the inside out, and they're a bear to clear out of the head in the kitchen too.

The solution to cabbage worms (assuming you don't want to spray insecticides) is planting early and keeping your garden crucifer-free in the summer months. If you can harvest your broccoli before the beginning of June, you probably won't have to deal with many southern cabbage worms. And if you pull the spring plants soon thereafter rather than letting them push out an extra floret or two throughout the summer months, cabbage worms won't be able to get a foothold on your garden and be ready to hit the ground running next year.

If all else fails, don't despair --- there's always the fall crop! Start seeds inside around the middle of June and you'll be eating another round of broccoli before you know it. Good luck!

Posted Mon May 29 06:42:24 2017 Tags:
Grape trellis wire support.

How is the new horizontal trellis stretch of wire supported?

A loop of wire supported at the top eye bolt comes down to hold the weight.

Posted Sun May 28 13:37:14 2017 Tags:
Tree frog on window
...frogs are climbing the windows, begging to be let in.
Posted Sun May 28 07:01:29 2017 Tags:
Carpenter bee burrow into lumber.

Is there anything to do to prevent carpenter bees from tunneling into the porch?

Posted Sat May 27 15:18:09 2017 Tags:
Grape flowers

Although training grapes outside our main bank of windows was intended as a way of shading the summer trailer, I've gotten just as much of a kick out of watching the plants through the seasons. Grape flowers are so small that I've always missed them in the past, but their windowside location means that I've had a front row seat as our Reliance vines break out into bloom this time around.

The visibility also means I noticed the first signs of phomopsis and snipped off the affected leaves and vines. Here's hoping that despite the near constant rain, I acted fast enough to keep this fungal disease in check.

Posted Sat May 27 06:57:33 2017 Tags:
PVC chicken feeder.

The recent storm we had was heavy enough to flood my new PVC chicken feeder.

I adjusted it to a drier location and added some side protection.

Posted Fri May 26 15:32:41 2017 Tags:
Freezing broccoli

Despite cutting back on most parts of the garden, we kept our broccoli plantings the same. They're just such a perfect crop --- tasty, productive, and easy to manage.

After gorging ourselves on huge heads all week, I packed 22 blanched pints away in the freezer for later. Two-thirds down and one-third to go!

Posted Fri May 26 07:09:52 2017 Tags:
Adding to the grape vine trellis.

We added two eye level horizontal stretches of wire to train our front grapes on.

Posted Thu May 25 14:31:06 2017 Tags:
Rainy roses

First the roar of rain and wind tear across our homestead...then the backup battery begins beeping its countdown warning as the power goes out. Quickly, I shut everything off, wanting to save our few remaining ounces of juice for the bare necessities --- making blog posts and charging my kindle. Then I go out to pick some strawberries for supper, noticing how different the world sounds without power.

Posted Thu May 25 06:35:02 2017 Tags:
Isolated hen in the kill coop.
I faced the chicken isolation coop so our egg eating hen could see her flock mates.
Posted Wed May 24 15:28:34 2017 Tags:

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