Broccoli not producing heads

veggieslover(Zone 6)July 19, 2008

It's my first time growing broccoli but my landlord swears this plot produces great broccoli. My first row was planted the week before Mother's Day and the second row in the last week of May. Neither of them have produced heads and the first row's broccoli plants are something like 1 1/2 feet long! What's going on? Can anyone help please??

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My broccoli can get quite tall before the head starts to form. If you measure the height of the perkiest leaves, I think mine are about knee height or a little above and I just picked my first heads today (transplanted outside May 14). If you gently push the little leaves away in the centre, can you see anything there? I have a very early variety (55 days), but main-season varieties can take up to 70 days (adjusted for your conditions of course). What is the name of your broccoli? If the plants look healthy, it might be a matter of waiting just a little longer.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 1:07AM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

Most broccoli is at least 60 days from transplant. Many varieties are longer.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 3:26AM
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Broccoli also doesn't like heat. I usually get heads early (end of June.) Then the plants go dormant in the heat of July and start producing side shoots at the end of August until we get a hard freeze.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 7:58AM
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I agree with booberry85, I got a late start this year and I am just now showing signs of flowers, bolting flowers.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 10:19AM
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Veggielover, mine grew real big too, knee high, huge leaves, then suddenly one day around the first week of July, boom! They all started to produce heads. Were it cooler, I believe the heads would have been larger. Be patient, and like macky says, look deep inside the growing tip. I'll bet you see the first forms of a head.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 10:38AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Veggielover, sorry I don't know how to get them to set heads either. Mine were planted out in May. One has only leaves. Two produced heads (small), of which one bolted immediately, flowered, and now has fat seed pods. Yesterday, I noticed a new flower stalk, so more seeds are on the way. I need not buy seeds next year. Pollinators, on the other hand, are very scarce this year.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 12:21PM
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minirose1(z6 AR)

I'm in zone 6 in AR and we always plant our spring broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages no later than mid-April and preferably the end of March, weather permitting. This gives the plants plenty of cool weather to mature without bolting and we get lots of gorgeous heads. Our broccoli was all in the freezer by mid June. I've just planted seed for a fall crop and will set them out around the end of August. It's a pain keeping the insects off of them but putting a row cover on helps and keep them watered. Come the cooler nights of September they take off and by the time they are ready to harvest in the fall, guess what, no worms! It's wonderful and we have some years that we are still picking side shoots in November.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 1:39PM
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veggieslover(Zone 6)

Thank you everyone!! I'll just keep waiting it out and see what happens! I'm glad to hear that I might just be impatient, not that I messed up. I do think the hot weather here may be a factor, too. (Northern IL) But I'll wait and see...!! thanks!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 8:07PM
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sumala(9 fl)

Don't forget that those big green leaves are edible too. If no heads form and you don't want to wait for fall, eat the leaves.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 9:21PM
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veggieslover(Zone 6)

sumala - what do you do with them? Saute? steam? all of the above?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 10:07PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Rinse, and cut the wet broccoli leaves in strips; saute a few minutes till tender in olive oil with butter and salt. Serve on sliced, crisp sauteed potatoes. Top with a slice of sauteed ham and an egg over-easy (or poached).

Think Eggs Benedict..... w/sauteed potato slices (instead of bread).

Note: if you don't have enough broccoli leaves, add Swiss chard, kale, cabbage leaves, whatever greens you have on hand. Kale takes a few minutes longer to cook tender than Swiss chard leaves, so they (kale) go in the pan first. Usually a little water is needed in the pan when sauteing kale (or use a juicy tomato). I don't cover w/a lid.

I boil red potatoes and skin them when cold. Store in fridge. When needed, cut in thick slices, and saute in butter/olive oil + salt till brown and crisp. They brown readily and are delicious under all sorts of sauteed greens. Sauteed ham and soft eggs on top is easy to prepare and delicious.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:18PM
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I will not be growing broccoli or cauliflower in the spring. I did it last year which reminded me of why I should not. We go from cool springs to hot summers. I always seem to have had head lettuce bolt, broccoli flower or have deformed cauliflower if I even get a head. The plants get nice and big just ready to yield and then the heat comes...oh except for this year when I did not plant any.
But the basic problem is in the Midwest we just don't get a flat temperature going into summer. I see these as good fall crops because they will mature into cold weather.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 5:20PM
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sudzy(5b IL)

Solanacease: Hi. Cen. IL here. My packman brocolli set heads just fine. They were all cut and ate. But when the side shoots starting forming heads they seemed to turn to seed real quick. So I pulled the plants. Should I have waited out the heat? just left the plants to see what they would do in early fall? I didn't know there was a dormant period. TY

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 2:01AM
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minirose1(z6 AR)

There isn't a dormant period with broccoli, if you want fall broccoli you must plant again in late summer. Fall plants do great in most midwest areas. Plants should be started now in order to be ready to plant out around the end of Aug or early Sept. Mine are up and will be transplanted to separate them very soon. Insects are a big problem for the first few weeks but then taper off until you usually have very clean heads when they mature.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 10:22AM
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sudzy(5b IL)

Hey minirose. Yes I have broccoli seeds sowed outside in a teeny-tiny greenhouse. I couldn't get Packman, All I could find was Del Cicco. Have you every tried it?

It's an old Italian variety. But it takes 90 days. I'll be fine with an Oct.20th frost date. I can cover. :)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:26AM
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lynnann50(z3 WI)

Hi all from the far nord'ern reaches of WI.

I've already harvested 4 times off of my PacMan...gotta love our cold nights!....

My question for you all is...I wonder if anyone has suggestions for what to use to cover the softball size cauliflower heads froming? I used to use kneehighs at this there something intended for that use?? thanks in advance...lynnann

Here is a link that might be useful: LynnAnn's Path to Nature

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 10:43AM
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veggieslover(Zone 6)

UPDATE! I decided that my plants were too close together and were crowded. So I pulled the majority of them out and left just 6. Shortly after that one produced a head, which I cut right before it started to turn yellow, though it was just about 4 inches across. It was delicious!! The other plants - still no heads. I think I'm just going to chalk it up to too much heat. And I hoped to plant some fall broccoli but can't find any seed at the shops around town so perhaps that won't work either. But next year I'll plan better. Live and learn!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 8:25PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Fall broccoli season is here already in my patch. The first heads are nearly ready to harvest. These were sown in plastic pots on the picnic table on June 16. They were set out on July 10. They never missed a beat and are huge. They have a bit of shade for some of the day. I have several varieties and two sowings to spread out things a bit.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:09PM
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I am laughing as this is the time of years most folks are tired of gardening, and letting their gardens flop. I decided this year, that I was going to make the ground do an encore. I have four or five rows of the second planting of cabbage in and as small as it is, it's starting to curl in to form heads. The broccoli is started and ready to transplant, and will have enough time to mature and is growing on in large cells until we have a good rain, and it'll be set out then. I left my limas in and they're heavy with bloom again, and will put out another flush, I have the second sowing of greenbeans in too, and one batch of them is in flower. Got four new rows of loose leaf lettuce sprouting, and three more rows of radishes leafing out.

The parsnips I planted early will be ready to pull when frost hits, and the celery holds up fine under a loose hay mulch well into December. The shallots and onions are pulled, dried and braided, but the leeks will also hold on until January.

It's been such a weird weather year, and I've had to fight critters this year and lost my corn crop (five hundred plants) I have to max it out to make the quota of food I normally produce in a year.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:54PM
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Wow..ok so I am not alone in my wondering about my broccoli. Glad to hear lol. Oregons growing season was so completly screwed up this year! The apple trees were blooming and then we got snow! broccoli plants: I planted by seed (first time ever), they took forever to come up. I was about to count them out and plant some thing else when I notice 5 plants that seemingly appeared over night. So I have nurtured them, and they are beautiful...but still no flowerets...I'll just keep waiting...

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 1:17PM
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