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Harvesting broccoli

Basket of broccoli with leaves

We've been eating broccoli for a week, but the crop finally reached critical mass Monday.  Perhaps a third of the plants had heads at full maturity --- if I left them any later, they'd start to degrade.  So I picked a basketful...

Broccoli with leaves removed
...stripped off the leaves to feed the chickens...
Freezer containers of broccoli...and put over a gallon away for the winter.

Last fall, I cut the tops off our broccoli and let the plants send out side florets for a couple of months, but I manage spring broccoli quite differently.  With my spring crop, I cut down the whole plant when I harvest the top, peeling the stems to be added to the steamer pot.

Part of the reason for this different management is pests.  As we reach June, the few, easily-picked cabbage worms are joined by the southern cabbageworm, which burrows up under the florets and is very difficult to pry out.  I figure it's not worthwhile to fight the bugs for a few sideshoots.

I also planted the broccoli a bit too close together this spring, so it's good to thin the crop and give the smaller plants room to grow.  Once the little guys mature, I want to hurry and put in a different summer crop in the broccoli beds while it still has time to grow.  Finally, I just really love the taste of broccoli stalks!

While I was at it, I froze 5 pints of spinach, collards, and swiss chard.  I've resolved that we will not have to resort to buying vegetables next March and April!

Our homemade chicken waterer is perfect for chicken tractors.


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...fresh broccoli!! I am SO jealous. We love broccoli in our house.
Comment by Jennifer Tue Jun 1 10:41:43 2010
I don't think there can ever be enough broccoli. We put in 35 plants, and I suspect we could have used twice that much.
Comment by anna Wed Jun 2 06:37:51 2010

Hi Anna,

Congrats on the potatoes and the brocolli, they look great, how did you prepare the chard to freeze it? and how will you prepare it when you take it out of the freezer?

Thanks Alison

Comment by Alison Wed Jun 2 07:11:30 2010

I'm glad you asked. I was going to include that info in this entry, but it was getting too long already!

I posted a whole series last year on my freezing methods. How to freeze food will probably answer all of your questions, but I recommend checking out the linked posts at the bottom of that one for some other helpful tips I've gathered along the way.

As for what to do with swiss chard after you take it out of the freezer --- I've found that all greens freeze well and can be used just like freshly steamed greens. Try heating them up and adding a bit of balsamic vinegar, or sauteeing them with garlic and a bit of oil.

The frozen greens really help tide us over when the kale stops growing in the dead of winter, and swiss chard is the green we freeze the most of all. The fall and spring greens tend to go in our bellies since the garden has fewer other crops ripe at those times. In the summer when swiss chard is growing like gangbusters, we're sick of greens, but we know that swiss chard freezes well so we put a lot away for the winter.

Comment by anna Wed Jun 2 07:34:50 2010

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime