Now listen, if broccoli isn’t your bag
then please bear with me, but saying that, you did click on a video clearly
depicting broccoli, so you really only have yourself to blame.
Actually no, why am I even apologizing? We should hold our tongues, bow our head low,
and kneel before the Queen of Vegetables. Growing broccoli the right way can teach
us a lot. After all, she likes full sun, but not too
much heat; she’s a heavy feeder, but with different requirements at different
stages in the lifecycle, and above all, she demands regular watering. More to the
point, give broccoli everything she desires, and she will reward you with the
tightest, hardest, and densest green nugs imaginable. Also filling your body full
of essential vitamins K, C and A, as well as phosphorus, manganese, potassium, copper,
magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, and calcium. So, stand up brush, yourself down,
and let’s learn how to best please her. I started my broccoli seeds indoors last
September, four or five varieties. I live in a hot climate, so the fall is the only
time I can grow broccoli successfully outdoors. Too much heat and she bolts or
produces open, wispy florets. A cool basement, along with an LEC 315, and Super
Sprouted propagator provide the perfect germination environment. My go-to method
for propagating outdoor plants is to fill a cell tray with Vermisoil, and wet
each cell thoroughly. Push down a little with your finger on each tray to make
sure they’re properly filled, adding more mix if required. You’ve got to make the
most of each cell to maximize their viability and longevity for seedling
development. Make a little hole in each one around, 5 millimeters deep, or 1/5
of an inch, pop in one or two seeds in each, cover push, down lightly. I said
lightly. A little more, and you’re done. Now the perlite and lava rock and the
Vermisoil provide ample aeration and drainage, so you don’t have to worry
about compaction. And, as long as I don’t drown it like a flooded rice paddy, you
really don’t have to worry about over wetting at this stage. Now, the principle
ingredients in Vermisoil are coconut, coir, and peat moss for moisture
retention, earthworm castings, compost, and bat guano for nitrogen and beneficial
biology. Plus a bunch of other organic inputs for a broad spectrum of fertility.
It also contains mycorrhizae fungi, but this is redundant for broccoli, as it
doesn’t associate with brassicas! Ha! Even if they are Queens. So, the seedlings
can last in these trays for quite a while, as long as you keep them moist. You
can see the roots are coming out of the bottom, and that’s all good. When they
need watering every day it’s time to transplant onto nursery pots. Again, I’m
using Vermisoil for this stage. Then a few weeks later I transplant into 2, 5, or 7 gallon fabric pots filled with Vermifire– a very rich
potting mix that provides lots of nutrition to my hungry broccoli in order
to develop large leaves and strong stems. Now, my original plan was to grow
my plants to full maturity in the Gro Pro pots. I gave them all the love I
could: watering them with a fresh brew of Vermi-Tea diluted 50 to 1–this is an
actively aerated microbial tea that puts a wonderful, diverse range of beneficial
biology into your potting mix to help speed up nutrient cycling, and make all
the goodies in the Vermifire more quickly available. However, no matter how
often I visited, the wind started to dry the pots out too quickly, and so I
decided to make up some beds, dig some holes, and bury the fabric pots directly
in the soil. It worked great! Especially at keeping my top dressings in place. I
distributed this all around the base of the plants. Then, three weeks later, I do
the same with PK-Boost. After all, all that phosphorus and potassium has got to
come from somewhere, and the plants are hungry for it. Now, before I show you the
final, harvestable, main heads, check this out. I gave some spare broccoli seedlings
to some of my friends and neighbors and one of them has hinted more than once
that I coddle my plants, saying stuff like, “I just put some in la terre and
profit from Mother Nature, Everest. No need to add anything.” Well, let’s have a
peek in her garden. Aaand.. Look at those poor specimens! Not profiting at all! In fact,
they’re barely receiving any sun at midday. Neither are they really flowering.
Just look at those fragile, thin stalks, poking up from the dry, compacted, sandy
soil. Barely any organic matter in here, let alone other inputs. And these my
friends, are the rewards you reap. Remember people, we are not growing wild
prairie grass here. We are nurturing highly cultivated, modern vegetables. They
need love, and broccoli needs a whole lot of it in order to reach its full
potential. Especially a PK-Boost to develop those large flowers. I mean
really– just imagine how those poor seedlings felt going from their nursery
pots, full of rich Vermisoil, into the sh-shockingly poor dirt! And certainly no
way to treat a Queen. No way, at all. In my garden, on the other hand– and I
don’t mean to gloat– but, wow! Green, nuggety goodness, thick, beefy stems. Same
seedlings, completely different beast. All thanks to a good soil mix, regular
watering, compost tea, and plenty of organic matter, and two
top dressings. Once I harvest the main heads, I’ll follow up with a third top
dressing to encourage those satellite heads to grow up a little and bulk out.
So, hopefully I can get a second crop before early spring. For now though, this
bad boy is destined for my steamer. Harvest in the morning, and don’t cook
them for too long. Take care, amigos. Don’t forget to love your vegetables
because they will surely love you back. Adios, amigos. This is Everest, O-U-T.