Saturday, May 22, 2010

A flowering problem

From Gardening

Last week the broccoli that was farthest along looked great - compact green buds, but it didn't seem very big, so I didn't harvest it. Now it looks like this. Obviously I should have picked it before now, but when should that have been? And can we still eat this?

From Gardening

The bok choy plants have also started flowering. I vaguely know that this is a sign that the plant is done producing and is ready to create seeds to grow a new crop of itself next year. With basil, for instance, I know how to keep it trimmed but still encourage it to grow, by cutting stalks down where the next buds are forming.

So, please advise me. What should I have done differently. Is this a danger for every plant in my garden? Should I let it happen or somehow trim off the flowering parts? Or if I had trimmed them off earlier, would I be seeing more bok choy rather than these flowers?

This year is all about learning, and doing it better next time.

I'm also wondering. If my cauliflower plants have huge leaves but so far no cauliflower, should I assume they will eventually grow, or are they duds?


  1. Hey Jen and Nat.
    If you grew your broccoli from nursery plants, sometimes they are in a hurry to go to seed. Transplanting is a shock that pushes them to reproduce as soon as possible. If they are from seed then you probably live in a warmer place then I do (Everett, Washington –zone 7a). Cut off the flowering part. Taste it, you might just like it raw. Otherwise put it into the compost (I chop mine up to speed the process) Leave the rest of the broccoli plant in the ground. Most broccoli will make "side shoots" above the leaves (much like a tomato sucker). They might be smaller than the main head. (The tendency to make side shoots has been bread out of some commercial types). Don't look at the size; look at the compactness of the buds. Just when they start to swell a bit is the time to cut them.

    Bok Choi: This is my first year with bok choi too. I knew that the plant was to be cut off at the base to harvest so I don't THINK it makes a 2nd crop. It is a cool weather crop. I enjoyed lots of BC in April. As soon as we had a few warm days mine started putting out seeds that look a lot like little broccoli (but were so much sweeter). I have put mine in the compost and have set a tomato in that square. I'll replant bok choi in the fall.

    I think the only danger for the rest of your garden is your appetite. It looks VERY good.

  2. if you learn anything good about cabbage bolting, let me was so confuddling last year. but i'm just hoping the freezing cold doesn't kill my tomatoes this week :(

  3. If it's flowering, I think that it's done. Shade cloth is your thing, and to replant those vegetables on the shoulders of the season (Fall through very early Spring). These plants are adapted to live in places like Scotland: places which are freaky-cold most of the year (we've gotten up to 70°F, and people take their shirts off and wear shorts and complain about the heat).

    You need more tomatoes and fewer leafies!

  4. Its already trying to go to seed. Cut out the center one and toss. Allow the side shoots to develop. When they are about 2-3" across, harvest them.
    When the center of a broccoli is just about 4" across, its good to harvest. If it starts to show a little bit of yellow buds starting, you can still harvest and eat it. Cut it out with about 2" stem and the side shoots will grow more ltitle ones that you can harvest when 2-3" across.

  5. re: broccoli, you should cut out the center head when its about 4" across. If it has a few yellow bits showing, its still ok to eat. Leave about a 2" stem. The sideshoots will start to grow and they can be harvested when they are around 2" across before budding.
    I don't know about bok choi, never having grown it.
    Most things can be harvested when they are smaller than you expect. They will be tastier. Commercial growers grow them as big as they can for income, by the lb. As a personal gardener, harvest when still young.

  6. Nice looking raised beds. Must be a challenge to harvest soon enough in the south before plants go to seed. We have bok choy gone to seed very quickly.