This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

broccoli buttons

broccoli button

Ooops. A couple of my broccoli plants are buttoning. Looks like of my dozen plants (and a couple of my Mom's) are making cute little broccoli heads on tiny broccoli plants. I've heard this happens when the weather turns warm too fast or when the plants are kept in seed flats too long. I'm sure my error was in keeping them in my toasty cold frame too long - even though they were in the soil. Next year I will move them out sooner. On a several days this spring, I forgot to open the windows and the temperature went up into the 90's. Not what the broccoli's like.



Blogger lisa anne said...

Maybe you can help me out here. I noticed aphid carcasses on my pepper plant leaves the other day. My husband mixed up some oils and meyer's soap. I sprayed everything in the garden down. Something is still eating the leaves of my broccoli, kale, chinese cabbage. Any suggestions? I looked for caterpillars etc. and can see nothing :(

May 25, 2010 12:38 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Sounds like slugs or cabbage worms.

Slugs are nocturnal and hard to find in the day. For slugs, I scatter a couple slug poison pellets in the area. It doesn't take much. Or look here for organinic ideas.

The cabbage worms are fat green caterpillars of the white cabbage butterfly. These love the crops you mention. Do you have white butterflies around? You need to look very carefully on the stems and under the leaves and remove them all. They are bright green and surprisingly hard to find. And they can eat a whole plant in one day. After you remove them, you can cover with row cover the prevent more butterflies from laying eggs. But check under them often in case you missed caterpillars or eggs. Make sure any new planting of brassicas are covered.

May 25, 2010 1:02 PM

Blogger lisa anne said...

I didn't cover them. That would be my first mistake. I haven't seen any white butterflies, or eggs or caterpillars. I think slugs as well. Thanks for the link!

Is it too late to cover them?

May 25, 2010 1:36 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I don't think covering helps if its slugs.

May 25, 2010 2:13 PM

Blogger Matron said...

I wonder if you planted the seeds either too late or too early? Whatever the reason, they sure look tasty. And I love it that this time of year it is still just about too early for there to be too many critters about on the brassicas, those leaves look really clean.

May 25, 2010 6:09 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I really think its the cold frame. Its was VERY hot in there several days.

The variety buttoning is Blue Wind. It doesn't seem like my other variety Marathon is buttoning, so maybe its a variety thing too.

I picked my 2 buttons today and am looking forward to a little fresh broccoli.

May 25, 2010 6:52 PM

Anonymous Debbie said...

Mine bolted and I got pretty yellow flowers on one, the others seem OK. This hot weather we are having is not making them happy, on the other hand the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are loving it.

May 25, 2010 7:55 PM

Blogger lisa anne said...

I caught a BUNCH of slugs last night. They are definitely the problem, but they sure like crappy beer! :)

May 26, 2010 10:38 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Great job catching slugs. (yuck)

May 26, 2010 10:51 AM

Blogger Robin said...

It's probably a combination of the heat of the cold frame and this crazy weather!! My broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are huge. My broccoli is also buttoning and I didn't leave them inside too long. This has been the craziest spring ever!

May 26, 2010 2:41 PM

Anonymous Steve said...

Same thing with my broc, over here in Natick. Mine have been out since March, first in a cold frame but for the last couple months just out by themselves. I'm just hoping the buttons turn into heads before they turn into flowers.

May 27, 2010 8:55 PM

Blogger dc said...

Ours button when it gets to cold---picky plants!

May 28, 2010 11:01 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Well it could be the cold too. Only the ones I transplanted into my plot are buttoning. The plot did frost a couple times. The broccoli plants I left in the cold frame are 3 time larger and are starting now to form big heads. Maybe I transplanted too soon? Like dc says - picky plants!

May 28, 2010 11:26 AM

Blogger Skip said...

About cabbage worms: they can easily be controlled using bacillus thurengiensis (BT). This is a wholly organic pesticide that controls the larva stage (caterpillars) of the Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths).
It works when the caterpillar- even a tiny newly hatched one- takes its first bite of a plant that has been treated with it. It gives them a very bad case of diarrhea and they literally poop themselves to death.
It is TOTALLY harmless to humans and can be used by the most demanding organic gardener.
As for the signs of infestation: look on the underside of leaves of cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, etc for small yellowish eggs.
make a solution of BT with water and a drop or two of detergent to help it stick on the leaves and spray it on.
We haven't had cabbage "worm " damage in years.
BT is available at many garden supply places, sold as "Dipel" or "Thuricide".
Happy gardening!

June 03, 2010 7:32 PM


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