I feel like an idiot. The past couple of days I have been watching my broccoli flower and flower, but it was also falling over. It did not have a big thick stalk like you would see from broccoli at the store, so I thought maybe that was normal at first. But because the broccoli was falling over, I wondered if I should put a stake with it, to help support it. I turned to the internet for help. I learned the following from the University of Illinois Extension website:
1.Broccoli has edible parts that are compact clusters of UNOPENED flower buds.
2. A large central head will develop first and then later several smaller clusters will grow from the sides, if grown properly. You are supposed to cut the central head with 5 to 6 inches of stem, after the head is fully developed, but before it begins to open and start to show bright yellow flowers. Removing the central head stimulates the side shoots to develop for later pickings which means you can usually continue to harvest broccoli for several weeks.
3. The central head should grow to be 4 to 6 inches in diameter, maybe larger, when it is time to cut.
4. "Premature flower development could be caused by interrupted growth resulting from extended chilling of young plants, extremely early planting, holding plants in a garden center until they are too old or too dry, and severe drought conditions."
5. "Small heads that form soon after plants are set in the garden are called "buttons" and usually result from mistreated seedlings being held too long or improperly before sale or planting." (I believe this is the case for our two broccoli plants that have flowered already, or at least that is what I am telling myself.)
I replaced one of the four broccoli plants with cauliflower because it was puny from the get-go, and so out of the three that were left, two have already flowered. That leaves one that will hopefully grow correctly. It has not sprouted yet, and I am hoping that means that it is on the right track. So my blossom excitement has been stifled a little, but at least now I have learned what not to get excited about when it comes to growing broccoli. After all this rain passes, it looks like I will get to plant two new plants in place of the broccoli duds. I'm thinking maybe an eggplant transplant and maybe a pepper plant...