Broccoli Success

I’ve been really please with the broccoli that I’ve grown this year and last. I’ve concentrated on one variety that can be spring sown, but also overwintered. It’s a variety called “Marathon”, and I started out with some spring (late March) plants that I was harvesting by the early summer. I planted some more in mid-summer and these grew all through the autumn / winter and I’m harvesting now.

I’ve backed these up with some purple sprouting, that looks as if I’ll be able to harvest later on this week, and so I’ll have a pretty good crop of broccoli nearly year round. My plan is to do the same again, and in fact it looks as though the next lot of spring sown plants will be here in the next week to ten days.

Probably the most significant difference between the spring sown and the overwintered plants are that the spring sown varieties, have produced a single large head and then once that has been cut lots of little side heads. The overwintered plants, have only really produced the latter, but they have been prolific so we’ve had lots to eat. Weight for weight I’d estimate it’s about the same, and in fact there’s also quite a bit more green leaves with the overwintered plants, so that adds a bit of variety too.

Potting On Tomato Seedlings

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I spent a little time yesterday afternoon potting on my tomato seedlings. They’ve reached the point where they now have a good set of “true leaves” and are ready to be moved on.

[A quick aside. “True” leaves are the first leaves on a seedling that actually look like those on the adult plant, and not the “seed” leaves that are the first to appear. Potting on seedlings before they have their true leaves can mean that the seedlings won’t survive the transplanting, and it is more likely that you’ll damage the seedling moving it to it’s new home. I’ve seen a few pictures in the last few days where a keen gardener has potted on a seedling without true leaves. They might be lucky, but the seedlings stand a better chance with the patient gardener.]

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I start by getting the new modules ready, filling them with good quality, multi-purpose compost. I know roughly how many seedlings there are, barring clumsy fingers, so I prepare all my modules beforehand.

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Next I prepare a hole for each new seedling. One per module using my handy dibber pencil.

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Then carefully I tease them out of their current home with the tip of the same pencil, being careful to keep as much of the seedlings root as possible. Being gentle and not yanking them out of the soil, will reduce any transplant shock and help them to establish in their new modules faster. Also handle them by the leaves and not the stem. Picking them up by the stem, can break the stem and you’ll loose the seedling. It seems a little
counter-intuitive but it works.

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When I’m done, I move the module trays into gravel trays to help with watering, and give the seedlings a little drink around the top of the compost. Again being careful not to drown the seedlings and squash them under a deluge of water.

These now go back indoors to a warm and sunny spot e.g. a windowsill. They’re not ready to plant out yet, it’s too cold and they’re not big enough. I’ll probably pot them on again once more, before putting them in their final growing spot, once they have their first flowering truss.

First Overwintering Broccoli From the Allotment

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It’s a variety called “marathon”, that I sowed back in the autumn, and is now ready to be harvested. I also cut some cavalo nero (black kale), so we should be eating well tonight!

As this broccoli matures it should work in well with the purple sprouting broccoli, which isn’t ready yet but will be in the not too distant future, and also some cauliflowers that appear to be doing well, but again, aren’t quite producing curds yet.