This year we have intentionally allowed our broccoli to go to seed. This will hopefully mean the next crop of broccoli that we sow will be from our very own seeds!
In the photo above you can see what happens if you leave some of the broccoli heads on the plant. We have already harvested the main head and a bunch of little side-shoots (these look just like “broccolini” that’s sold at the greengrocer).
The broccoli that we left on the plant has blossomed with cheerful yellow flowers, which then shoot up into the air on long stalks. The flowers are pollinated by our local bees and wildlife, and then those little pods grow: first green, and then they dry out and become brown.
Once the plant starts seeding, it becomes vulnerable to pests and diseases. I took the photo of the Aphids a couple of weeks ago: looks like they are really getting stuck in to that plant! But we have heaps of predatory insects that love munching on Aphids. By leaving them alone I’m encouraging the “good bugs” to stick around. They seem to be doing a reasonable job: the Aphids aren’t spreading to other plants. Great!
Last year we accidentally let some broccoli go to seed, and we were quite chuffed until we saw the Aphids arriving. We quickly pulled out all our old seeding plants because we were worried about encouraging an infestation. And, of course, the Aphids quickly transferred their attention to the young broccoli seedlings we had growing on. Oops! We’ve learnt better this year, and we’re leaving those skanky old broccoli plants to lure the Aphids and Cabbage White Moth caterpillars away from the real plants we want to protect!
To collect the broccoli seed we just brought in those dried up brown pods and opened them up. They spilled out just like shelling peas. 🙂
Here’s hoping this seed will be viable for the next time we start some seedlings!