Sunday, February 23, 2014

Goodbye, broccoli

I'm in week three of the annual end-of-winter garden clean-up. Salvias have been pruned, weedy grasses have been dug up and tossed, bird-planted hackberries have been cut to the ground, henbit has been pulled. Now my attention turns to the veggie garden.

Beets, baby Romaine, spinach and garlic can stay,
garden greens and garlic

but those headless broccoli plants have got to go! Time to make way for potatoes, peas and, before we know it, the Three Sisters: squash, beans and corn.
broccoli shoots

I'll leave a couple of flowering stems for the bees, then for seed.
broccoli and bee

Flowering winter vegetables are an important food source for bees between seasons.
bee on broccoli

Carol Ann Sayle at Boggy Creek Farm says broccoli leaves are edible, so this year I'm saving the small tender leaves to eat, along with the last of the side shoots. I plan to cook them like collard greens: after a quick blanch in boiling water, I'll drain, chop and sauté them in olive oil with lots of garlic and freshly ground black pepper.
broccoli leaves

The rest of it goes in the compost bin. Goodbye, broccoli, until next fall.
broccoli in compost bin

What's headed to your compost bin to make way for spring?
bolted broccoli

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. I've never tried nor heard of eating the broccoli leaves! I will have to try that- I haven't pulled mine up yet so good to know! Thanks for the tip!!

    1. I've always wondered myself but never looked it up until this year. Thanks to a cold winter and fewer flea beetles, my broccoli leaves are immaculate. Prepare it like collards or broccoli rabe.

  2. I rather like the flowers on the brassicas. Last year I had a whole head of broccoli go to flower. I picked it and put it in a vase. Your spent winter garden looks very healthy and I am sure those broccoli leaves make a good meal.

    1. I like the flowers, too. I keep thinking I should plant some edibles in the front garden, not to eat, but for the flowers.