Saturday 28 August 2010

Tenderstem Broccoli - the wonder vegetable

On 15th August when I wrote about brassicas, I said I would have to dig up the Tenderstem broccoli at some stage, because I needed the room to plant out chicories for the Autumn. Today I did the dread deed! To be honest, I was reluctant to do it, because the Tenderstem was still producing lots of new shoots. I have never come across such a productive vegetable. I only had 8 plants and they occupied a space of about one metre square, but they have produced huge amounts of lovely succulent shoots over a 3-month period. The main heads of the plants were nothing very impressive -- pretty much the same as a green Calabrese you can buy at the supermarket, but the shoots that sprouted out all over the place once the main head was gone were something else! I was aware that new shoots would appear from the leaf axils, because I had grown the plant the previous year and had seen this happen. But I was not expecting more shoots to come up from ground level though. Last year I dug up the plants before this happened. If only I had known what to expect, I would have been more patient. Actually, I expect not many people have ever seen this happen.

Here is a sequence illustrating today's task...

Stage 1. The broccoli before starting.

The broccoli still growing

Stage 2. The plants dug up.

The plants after being dug up
A re-sprouted main stem

Stage 3. The harvested crop.

Stems blanched by being underground

Lovely succulent shoots!

Some of the biggest specimens

Stage 4. The raised bed planted-up with chicory seedlings -- Rossa di Verona. I hope they will have time to mature before it gets too cold. The first batch were totally destroyed by slugs when they were tiny, so this lot are about 3 or 4 weeks behind schedule -- but then, this is why I got so much Tenderstem broccoli, so it's the old Swings and Roundabouts thing again!

Broccoli replaced with chicory seedlings
Chicory Rossa di Verona

Just to finish off this story -- remember the Asparagus kettle I wrote about in a previous post? This is what we cook the Tenderstem broccoli in. By keeping the broccoli (or asparagus, of course) upright it boils the stems and steams the delicate leaves, so they are both "done" at the same time. Simples!

The Asparagus kettle

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