Gardening can be quite confusing with so many different varieties of vegetables available. It seems that every one has their own way to do things. Each zone or weather and climate region is different and times can vary. So how do you harvest your garden when it’s ready? Well that is more of a common sense thought. Don’t be scared because the plant is edible. If you cut it in the wrong spot – you can still eat it.
With our garden, we have never had one this large. We lived for 10 years in one of those homes where if you stand on the back door you can almost reach the fence. In that home we had a 4×8 ft garden that we tried to grow tomatoes and squash in. It was so tight and over grown. In our new home we had trouble last year trying to grow plants from seeds and killed them all. We were so busy unpacking still from the move and that either watered too much or dried them beyond the point of life. So this year we gave it a solid try. We had a dirt patch from the prior owners that used to have a garden years ago. I roto-tilled the dirt into a 20X75 foot garden and kept with my normal planting schedule which is the first week or two in April. Which in our region/zone is about a month yearly. But I always risk it, as seen here.
So how did I harvest our broccoli?
There are multi shoots or if you look at the broccoli as a “tree”, there is a main trunk and large side branches. On the first harvest you will want to cut the main large trunk – saving the large side branches till they get larger. The main trunk should be cut when it is around 4-7 inches wide. But that is a fairly large spread of size to decide when to cut. Other things to look out for are the little florets or soon to be flowers. When the head of the floret is about the size of a match head then it is time to harvest. Another feature to keep an eye on is the color. They should remain a dark green. If you happen to see them start to lighten and turn yellow, that means they are ready to bloom and it is time to cut.
So remember the longer you wait the less tender the broccoli will be. If you have looked over the plant and have decided you are happy with the growth and size, then carefully look inside the head and find the large trunk. Locate a section where you can gently place the scissors around the trunk. And cut.
Now the side shoots or branches will not grow as big as the main head. They will reach harvest size around 2-4 inches wide. The same color and floret recommendations still apply. So get out there daily and check your garden. You will always be surprised how quick they will be ready to harvest.