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The Broccoli Hydra

March 7, 2013

Here it is March and my tired old broccoli plants are still producing after 6 months of “winter” abuse. The main heads were all great- quite large, the largest I’ve grown so far in 4 seasons.

These were harvested way back in October or November and this set off the “hydra” effect.

If you have forgotten what the Lernaean Hydra was in Greek mythology, you can follow this link for a refresher. It was a wicked beast, one which grew back two toothy heads each time one was severed.

Broccoli? Hydra?

Yeah well it is a stretch, but if you leave your fall broccoli plants to grow as along as your seasons allow and continue to harvest the side shoots / florets, a similar thing occurs. The first main head is a single large head, after it is cut 2 or 3 side shoots start growing, as they are cut, more smaller shoots start off of those stalks. This multiplying effect continues as long as you keep cutting and eventually you are up to a dozen or two small florets to snip from each surviving plant.
As they multiply, the average size shrinks and the plants’ large fall leaves yellow and begin to die/rot. In the end you have a plant that just looks worse every week until it is just time to thank it and add it to the compost pile.

See what I mean?

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Pretty eh?

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These plants are going to retire this weekend. When I begin to detect that ominous whiff of rotting broccoli (the larger cut stem ends begin to deteriorate eventually), I know I’ve pushed the hydra as far as it can go….

In the meantime, they provided a nice harvest of tiny sweet florets this evening, half of which went into a stir-fry comprised of the other winter remnants I managed to scavenge this evening.

In addition to the broccoli we came up with a couple of turnips, a few small carrots, a kohlrabi, a couple of tiny bok choy, and some shallots and garlic from the dwindling supply stored in the cellar.

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The stir fry that resulted was delicious. Agree?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2013 10:33 pm

    I love those Hydra heads! Perfect for dips or in a salad – no chopping required. You’re on to something there.

    I have a second head on one of my old broccoli plants – which I hadn’t expected. My old broccoli doesn’t last long as I pull the whole plant out and put it in the chook run if I’m locking up my chickens when I go out. They love to eat the leaves. I then blend the stalk and feed that to them mixed with yogurt. I thought this was the perfect plant, I got a feed then my girls got 2 off the same plant. But before I could feed this plant to the chooks it’s gone and grown a new head. So now am I supposed to deprive my girls of one of their favourite foods so I can get a second (smallish) head – or many Hydra heads even?

    The dilemmas I face as a chicken owner!

    • March 7, 2013 10:56 pm

      This is basically a discovery that only came about because I can absolutely procrastinate clearing a spot if i don’t have something ready to go into it, And alas, I have no “chooks” to share with. šŸ˜‰

  2. March 8, 2013 1:14 am

    I agree! It looks good to me. Amazing that you can get a meal out of so little.

  3. Brent Eamer permalink
    March 8, 2013 4:53 am

    Well, up here in Prince Edward Island, I am still a few weeks away from anything being sowed, maybe some Mache or Spinach. But I will try Broccoli again this year. “Munchkin” will be the choice. I have some nice lightweight row coves to protect against the damm cabbage moth. Or maybe I will start them soon and transplant in early may in my hoophouse. Ah the choices….You are a lucky man to have your climate….

    • March 8, 2013 6:49 am

      Yes, I do like our mild winters. Cabbage moths /worms got two heads of cabbage when i let my guard down recently, Amazing how it doesn’t take but 24 hours for a head to be ruined by those little bastidges

  4. Mrs. Cohutt permalink
    March 8, 2013 7:52 am

    That was an excellent stir-fry!

  5. March 9, 2013 5:04 am

    I just love stir fry especially when it’s from one’s own produce.
    Bridget x

    • March 9, 2013 8:25 am

      Absolutely. Glad to see you “out and about” again Bridget.


  1. Return of the Broccoli | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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