photo: broccoli flowers

February 1st, 2009
Brassica oleracea ‘Premium Crop’

The sun came out and temperatures shot back up to the 70s. The bees were all abuzz. This was not a cause for joy, however, because the bees were buzzing over broccoli flowers. The broccoli began bolting last week leaving this central Texas gardener wondering if she should even attempt to grow cool-weather vegetables when almost 1/3 of January registered temperatures in the 70s or 80s. (I tried growing summer squash, too, to hedge my bets but we had just enough days below freezing to kill them.)

photo: broccoli flowers

According to Garrett and Beck in Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening, premature flowering is caused by high temperatures. They advise, “Plant so that maturity will occur during cool weather.”

Can someone explain to me when that is exactly? I planted four broccoli plants on October 3 and they began heading on January 2. We cut one head to eat on January 11. Before we could enjoy the rest of them (I only planted four plants!), they were already beginning to bolt. I’m not the only Austin gardener with this problem. Vertie posted photos of her broccoli flowering the same day mine did, January 26.

I’ve cut off the flowering heads. Some side shoots are forming. A cool front is coming in tonight. Maybe I’ll get enough broccoli for a lunchtime serving before I pull them out. Each 4-inch potted plant was $1.25 at Gardens…which is about the same as a head of broccoli at Central Market. Broccoli is one of those plants that tastes best fresh from the garden but broccoli are big plants in my little (48 square foot) vegetable garden. I need to make way for something more productive.