Some might say it’s overly ambitious to attempt to grow broccoli on a balcony with only partial sun. Some might say this, but not me. Nuts to that.
I hatched this plan back in August after discovering the Purple Sprouting Red Spear Broccoli variety available through West Coast Seeds. The plant’s description got me excited:
These extremely cold-hardy biennial plants grow over the winter months ready for early spring harvest. Purple sprouting broccoli provide very small, sweet purple flowering shoots in the spring. Sow in late summer for February to March harvest.
It was already late summer. Why not give it a shot?
I began my mission by germinating and planting 10 seedling. Over the next months the plants grew taller and leafier and broader, and several of the stalks turned yellow and died. I have a habit of overcrowding all of my pots, so I figured this probably wasn’t a bad thing. This was nature weeding out the weaklings for me.
The plants got taller and broader still and by January my mind began to fill with questions: Had I started my seedlings too late? Or was it too cold, too dry, or too dark? Would these plants ever produce any real, edible broccoli?
Then came the snow.
One month later I spotted the very first semblance of a broccoli crown at the apex of the biggest plant. Exciting! Now that it’s almost April, I’m astounded by the plant’s progress every day.
Though I’ve yet to taste this home-grown vegetable, I’m satisfied that my experiment has been a success. My only remaining question is, how will I know when the plant is ready to harvest?