This time of year I know there’s a risk that a hard freeze might kill the broccoli. But I decided to run that risk and leave a lot of the big heads on the stalk in the garden, in order to have to offer fresh broccoli to our customers. That turned out to have been a mistake. But not because it got too cold.
Instead the broccoli is bolting due to the unseasonably warm weather. A couple of days ago we had a record high and it’s been above normal most of the fall. When the soil temperature goes above about 70, and stays there, then broccoli will go to flower. At first it was just a few plants, but yesterday I was frustrated to discover than nearly the entire garden had bolted. It never occured to me that we were at risk of losing the broccoli to heat, rather than cold.
But it’s not as tragic as it sounds. I cut all the affected broccoli (about 2 bushels) and Cherie is making broccoli salad and broccoli soup out of some of it. We’ll freeze the rest. Any that’s too far gone we’ll give to the chickens. Nothing goes to waste.
The little yellow flowers don’t actually ruin the head. They’re edible, but we just pinch them off. But folks aren’t used to seeing their broccoli with yellow flowers on it, so we keep those heads for ourselves.
We had a cold spell about a month ago and I was worried we’d lose the cauliflower. So I cut it all and brought it in for Cherie to freeze (after we feasted on roasted cauliflower a couple of nights). As an experiment I left a few heads in the garden to see how they’d do. They look beautiful now. The cold didn’t last and the cauliflower shouldered through it. I regret I didn’t leave more out there. The brussels sprouts are doing well too.
It’s impossible to accurately predict the weather consistently. Last year we had virtually no winter and I joked then that I could have planted corn in January. Time will tell what this winter has in store for us. But for sure we won’t have as many large broccoli heads as I’d expected.