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How To Protect Your December Broccoli Crop (!)

It’s December 2015 and everyone (with the possible exception of Christmas hard-liners) is enjoying the warmer weather (15° Celsius yesterday).

 

This is especially true for our fellow gardeners and fans. And its especially, especially true for those of us that are working on a winter garden.

 

Although our winter gardens are doing well, the warmer weather is presenting some challenges with rodents that are hungry and happy to find some delicious greenery to munch on and store as winter fat. And since mild temperatures bring rain rather than snow, you may want to keep the covers off your poly-tunnel/cold frame crops or at least keep them well vented to reduce excess moisture in the air.

 

Deciding when your winter crops have completed their biological cycle and are spent can be difficult, especially when you see continued growth like we see now with our broccoli. In this mild weather, it continues to produce succulent tender greens.  Be aware, though that since Broccoli is a member of the brassica family, it uses a lot of nitrogren and will deplete the soil of this macronutrient, especially via a growing season that is unnaturally long. To protect our soil and avoid encouraging visits by rodents and rabbits, we are going to harvest the standing balance and put the tiny broccoli flowers into soups, salads and stews. Yum!

 

vita broccoli 2

Once we harvest the broccoli flowers, we’ll add the remaining shoots, leaves and seed husks to our compost pile for a good CN (carbon nitrogen) ratio. This will give us an opportunity to treat the soil and raise the pH if needed with a mixture of lime or wood ash to a less acidic condition.We may also gather and store the seeds to grow sprouts hydroponically indoors for salads and sandwiches. Note: While the yellow flower head of the plant won’t harm you, it is best (and most nutritious) to eat the flower while it is still green.

 

Although you can’t control the weather, making smart choices and timely decisions will deliver trade-offs for other beneficial and successful results.