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

Broccoli started indoors vs. outdoors

Transplanting broccoli

Every year, I'm astonished at how well the broccoli sets do when I start them directly in the ground under quick hoops.  These guys are about 5 weeks old and are in perfect shape for transplanting.

Seedlings under quick hoops

Despite a cold spring, the broccoli and cabbage sprouted and grew quickly outside.  The quick hoop provided just enough protection to keep heavy frosts from nipping the leaves, and it's easy to pry up a large hunk of dirt with each seedling so they barely notice being transplanted.

Seedling started inside

In contrast, the seedlings I started indoors and planted out into the garden two weeks ago are only in so-so condition.  This is one of the better ones --- still off-color and about half the size of the quick-hoop specimens.  Other of the early-planted seedlings were killed by last weekend's heaviest frost (29 degrees), which wouldn't have been enough to harm a healthy seedling.

Tuesday, I filled in the gaps and used the rest of my quick-hoop starts to plant a few more beds.  Barring a hard freeze in the interim, we should have a tasty crop of broccoli and cabbage in a couple of months.  Broccoli is one of our tastiest, most prolific, and most dependable spring crops as long as I get the seedlings off to a good start, and quick hoops seem to be the best way to make that happen.

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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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Have ya'll thought about quick hoops on all beds and just direct sowing seeds to avoid transplant shock?
Comment by Elaine Wed Apr 24 14:37:16 2013
Elaine --- That would work, but transplant shock doesn't seem to be very great when I move broccoli and cabbage from quick hoops out to the real world. I figure it's not worth the expense and time of putting up and taking down three more quick hoops. Instead, I'm thinking of moving in the direction of starting more things in quick hoop transplant beds, like the onions that didn't do so well when started inside this year.
Comment by anna Wed Apr 24 15:01:06 2013
Darn! I lost all our brocolli and all our green cabbage when we got a much colder than expected freeze. 13 degrees was just too much for them. A few of them will probably survive, but they are so wilty that i think its better to just start over. Funny, so far, the purple cabbage seems still okay. Time will tell. I will have to buy a few starter plants so we can at least have SOME.
Comment by Deb Thu Apr 25 01:49:46 2013

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