Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OMG Broc-O-Lee

So Robb and I grow lots of things in our garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, that kind of stuff. But for some reason, there are some items that you find in the produce aisle of your grocery store that you never think you'll see growing in your backyard. For me, broccoli is one of those things.

Last winter, on a whim, I ordered up some broccoli seeds from the seed catalog. (I know, I'm 80 years old and I order seeds from a catalog, I get it.) We were getting our usual haul of goodies to plant and I thought, why not? I'll throw some dirt in a cup and see what happens. (OK, tangential question: where on earth does a broccoli "seed" come from? Is it, like, in its little nubs?) Either which way, the seed germinated and out came this leggy, sad little shoot. When you look at a thing like that, it's hard to imagine that it might someday grow up to be a strong, robust, fibrous broccoli plant. And at the time, I had NO IDEA what a broccoli plant might even look like. Is it big? Does it grow underground like a pineapple? I had no clue.

Basically, it's supposed to be a springtime cool-weather veg, and nothing really happened with my sad leggy little pod between February and May. So we just planted a couple of them in the ground and sort of figured they'd die. I know! It's terrible. But it's true. We had no faith in this plant AT ALL.

And then sometime around August, it started to become...a plant! It was right next to the "weed patch" (as shown below) so at first I thought it might just be wild foliage or some heinous orchid. And started to grow these little nubs that looked like...can it be...broccoli!?

In the last month, it's grown to be an actual vegetable in its trademark broccoli shape. I like to think of their heads as many little afros that come together to form one large afro.

A word on the practicality of growing broccoli: this has got to be the dumbest plant for a home gardener to grow. And by dumb, I mean impractical. Look at how much room it takes up! And for just that one little head of broccoli!? (Granted, it could grow more heads...this could just be a puny or malnourished broccoli plant.) Also, it took EIGHT MONTHS to grow? That is nearly as long as it takes for a human to grow a, a cognizant creature with nerve endings and motor skills and "feelings" and all of that. It just seems a little silly that broccoli would need so long to grow. AGAIN, this could just be that we got it in the ground too late, and it barely held on through the heat all summer, and now what we're seeing is a "miracle broccoli plant" that happened to produce after all of its hardships. What I'm trying to say is, I do accept some responsibility for the silliness of this plant's performance.

One thing I know for sure: it's going to be very hard to eat this thing. I mean, we've only got one! Do we just eat it raw? Steam it and eat it with salt and butter? Do we put it in a stir fry, or maybe smother it with cheese sauce? Do we invite guests over so every one can have a nibble, or do we savor each bit for ourselves? It's turned into a very stressful situation as you can see.

Wow, I never knew I had so much to say about broccoli.

Do let me know if you have any suggestions! Both for how we should eat it and what I did wrong when growing it. So much to learn and ponder!


  1. Steam and serve with lemon, butter, and salt. And don't let it go too long or it will turn into seeds that you do recognize but no longer want to eat!

    It's beeeeautiful! but yeah, a little ridiculous to try and grow in a home garden i agree. my sister in law grows it too and it doesn't make any sense to me.

  2. My coworker just said: "She thinks broccoli are stupid? She should try asparagus!" Apparently it takes years to get them to grow right. But I like how asparagus beds look like little forests. Little people!

    The thing with broccoli plants is for some reason I don't trust the edible part in the middle. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't even know why.

    I'm done talking about this.

  3. you had much better luck than i did....i planted it in the spring and it bolted as soon as it got hot. argh.
    but, it will taste fantastic...way better than the kind you buy at the grocery store so i'd prepare it your favorite way.
    (also, do you have the cookbook apples for jam? there is a wonderful broccoli soup recipe in there).

  4. Thanks for your tips, ladies! I think Robb and I are going to eat it that Ananda has me scared about letting it turn to seed.

    As for asparagus, Robb and I wanted to grow it but decided not to after we read how long it takes for them to grow (since we rent our home and all). Instead we planted fruit trees, which makes no sense! What is wrong with us?

    And I do not have the book Apples for Jam. Thanks for the recommendation! Broccoli soup is one of my guilty pleasures (especially if it is extra cheesy or creamy.)