The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Broccoli cold sensitivity

Stir fry ingredients

I'm monitoring my quick hoops carefully this fall to see their limitations.  So far, lettuce with no protection has turned into a slimy mess and tokyo bekana that's not under cover Chickens eating tokyo bekanahas been moderately nipped.  (Not so much that the chickens don't think it's a treat, though.)

Meanwhile, under the hoops, lettuce and all types of leafy greens are still going strong.  The Persephone Days are here, so my winter crops aren't actively growing, but I planted so many that I'll still have plenty to harvest for weeks yet as long as the quick hoops mitigate the cold.

Broccoli, however, is a goner even under the row cover fabric.  I picked the last head yesterday and had to cut off about half the florets due to freeze damage.  My guess is that broccoli needs more protection than a quick hoop when the outside temperatures get down into the twenties.  Still, it's hard to complain when I can make a whole stir fry (minus the spices and rice) straight out of the garden on the last day of November.

Our chicken waterer gives the flock something to play with during long winter days when snow is on the ground and they're cooped up inside.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I cooked and ate a very similar sounding stir fry last night too! What a coincidence.
Comment by MERH Thu Dec 1 09:13:44 2011
Different varieties of broccoli must have different levels of cold tolerance. Ours are still going strong despite no cover or protection and multiple nights that have been in the upper 20s (and several in the mid 20s). Now I just have to figure out if those are Waltham from the big box store or Calabrese Green Sprouting from Baker Creek. Thanks for the link to the old post on the Persephone Days - very helpful for planning next year.
Comment by John Amrhein Thu Dec 1 13:37:28 2011
I think it's stir fry season around here. Just the right veggies in season! Soon we'll be moving on to soup season (not that we don't have soup all year....)
Comment by anna Thu Dec 1 13:59:55 2011
Excellent point about variety selection. Another factor would be age of the plant. Elliot Coleman wrote (and I've seen) that after you pass the seedling stage, younger plants are better able to handle cold weather. So perhaps your broccoli is younger than mine?
Comment by anna Thu Dec 1 16:14:53 2011
That's interesting about the age but I doubt mine are younger. They were started inside in February or March, got a little root bound I think and didn't do much in the spring but after getting through the hot summer weather they really took off around the beginning of September and I've been harvesting multiple small heads ever since....I've never done well with broccoli but these have been great.
Comment by John Amrhein Fri Dec 2 05:02:13 2011
Sounds like age isn't the factor, then! It might well be the choice of a "sprouting" broccoli rather than a variety with one large head. For some reason, the latter seem to do a lot better in our garden, but I could see how the former would be more cold tolerant.
Comment by anna Fri Dec 2 10:41:21 2011
Amazingly I discovered Eliot Coleman's "The Winter Harvest Handbook" at our local library yesterday. I also noticed he says that purple vareties of sprouting brocolli are cold-tolerant down to 10 degrees F! I am very interested to see just how cold the ones I have will go...and I'm also thinking about starting some seeds in January to put out once temps are above 10 degrees...probably in February.
Comment by John Amrhein Tue Dec 6 04:49:07 2011
I read his book last year and loved it, but clearly The Winter Harvest Handbook is one of those books that I should probably own so I can dip back into it for variety suggestions like that. Thanks for the reminder!
Comment by anna Tue Dec 6 11:42:41 2011

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