Ask a Question forum: Broccoli! Ours didn't ever develop a head...

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GardensAll
Aug 9, 2016 4:58 PM CST
We planted our broccoli seedlings in early March in a straw bale garden, but they never formed a head. Someone advised us to cut off the top a few weeks ago. We did. Still no heads... they just kept putting out flowerless sprouts, so we finally removed them because they're such space hogs. Any ideas on what went wrong? Thank You!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 9, 2016 5:57 PM CST
GardensAll said:We planted our broccoli seedlings in early March in a straw bale garden, but they never formed a head. ...


Gee, without your location, it would be a pure and 100% guess. Too early, too late, too hot, too cold ... no way to guess.

Sometimes when plants are very vigorous but never fruit, it's because too much Nitrogen fertilizer encouraged them to grow leaves, branches and more leaves, but not seeds (or broccoli-like seedheads).

Here are some questions, not necessarily answerable questions.

Is "too much Nitrogen" a likely problem? Lots of dark-green leaves?
Are they pretty vigorous and growing taller other than "no heads"?
What is the average first frost date where you live?
Size of seedlings when transplanted?
How's the color? A photo might help us help.
Heat, cold, rain and daylength might affect flowering.

If you put your growing location into your public profile, it will always show up in posts like these.
Here's how:
Click the head-and-shoulders icon in the upper-left corner to go to "Your Profile".
Click "Change Your Public Profile"
Now these fields let you create text that always appears on your posts:
- - - - - "Your location" and
- - - - - "Extra one-line info that appears in your threads"
(Then scroll down farther and click "Save Your Changes".)

And, when you change Your Public Profile, all your past posts will be updated with the new text!

Let's see what Dave's generic garden calendar suggests for your location and broccoli:

http://garden.org/apps/calendar/?q=Portland%2C+OR

Darn, this is the FALL calendar!

Start seeds indoors: Jun 21 - Aug 5
Transplant outdoors: Aug 2 - Sep 16

OK, scroll farther down for the Spring calendar:
Start seeds indoors: Jan 24 - Feb 7
Transplant outdoors: Mar 6 - Mar 20

If you transplanted seedlings in early March, that agrees exactly with Dave's "generic" planner for Gresham OR.
Did you "harden them off" before putting them outside all day?
If you direct-sowed into straw bales, maybe they went in too late in the season.

But it also sounds like you have hills and valleys, so your microclimate might want you to plant either earlier or later than "generic" dates for that area.

Anyway, if you have seeds left, you're only a week or so late starting seedlings inside for a fall crop.
If you find fall broccoli seedlings available to buy, now might be a good time, or in the next 4 weeks.

You COULD look for other members in your exact area, and ping them with the "@" sign in front of their user name. For example, if I type "@GardensAll", you should get a system notification that someone tapped you on the shoulder in a forum post, to get your attention.

Check out the member map, and search for people near Gresham, OR. If they listed their location in their public profile, they can be searched for in the "Member List" (link at bottom of every NGA page, in fine print).

http://garden.org/users/memberlist/location.php?my_location=...

http://garden.org/users/memberlist/location.php?my_location=...

@duane456 and @Purplebloomcactus, and @Greenfield, do you have suggestions for a new member, for planting broccoli in or near the Willamette Valley?



[Last edited by RickCorey - Aug 9, 2016 6:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 9, 2016 6:08 PM CST
(Actually, I had to go back and EDIT my post to add your name. You probably did NOT get a System Notificatuon that I tagged your name!)
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Tomato Heads Garden Photography
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robynanne
Aug 9, 2016 8:58 PM CST
Are you sure they were actually broccoli? I grow broccoli raab and it doesn't grow heads like broccoli. I know it is a long shot...
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 9, 2016 10:16 PM CST
I've also had this happen with a the fancy head broccoli called 'Romanesco'. It grew and grew and made huge ungainly plants but never made heads, or even side shoots. Since then I've purposely started my own seeds of broccoli varieties that produce quickly - the "Days to maturity" number is usually on the seed packet.

But you can eat the smaller leaves and stems of most broccoli and it's very tasty, so you don't need to waste it.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 10, 2016 12:03 PM CST
I have a "leaf broccoli" that never heads up. It does put out small floral clusters AFTER OVER-WINTERING, and it is lovely in the early spring, in bloom before most things green up!

Growing it for the small leaves and tips, you should probably keep them trimmed low. Letting them become a mass of shrubbery like this is NOT the way to get tender young leaves.

Spigariello Liscia = Broccolo Spigariello = Brassica oleracea var. 'Spigariello'
Very cold-hardy Italian Heirloom leaf broccoli
O.P. 45-65 days. Full Sun Annual .
12" - 24" tall, 16"- 24" spacing
deep blue-green leaves & tops: sweet, mild broccoli / kale flavor
Strip off center rib. Cooked leaves freeze well.
Direct-sow ⅛" deep or indoors, for transplanting after air stays above 25 ºF
Once established, OK above 25º.


Thumb of 2016-08-10/RickCorey/55b782


Thumb of 2016-08-10/RickCorey/4880ce


Thumb of 2016-08-10/RickCorey/020978

Sorry about the "bondage"! After over-wintering, they wanted to flop over, and the neighbor on that side would have run them over repeatedly with her car.
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Herbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Tomato Heads Garden Photography
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robynanne
Aug 10, 2016 1:58 PM CST
Do those then make edible pods like rat tails and arugula?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 10, 2016 2:57 PM CST
The Broccolo Spigariello looked so much like Bok Choy pods that I never tasted them.

Brassica oleracea var. 'Spigariello'

Thumb of 2016-08-10/RickCorey/ec3057

But when I planted some Daikon radish seeds at the wrong time (early spring??), they made LOADS of very tasty radish seed pods and almost ZERO roots. Just little white hairs supporting a huge bush covered with seed pods.

I didn't collect all the seeds that matured, so I had Daikon volunteers for a few years. And it is true, they CAN plow or drill into hard clay. These guys look like they fought it out with the clay, but the clay won: they were able to drill down only so far, and then they had to grow upwards.

Daikon Radish 'Minowase' OP
sow summer or fall
Raphanus sativus


Thumb of 2016-08-10/RickCorey/f81b62

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Aug 10, 2016 8:51 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @GardensAll !

I agree that we need more info about your growing conditions and what type of broccoli you planted; in some areas it does much better as a fall crop, rather than a spring crop.
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