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Post  Little Thumb on 5/1/2010, 9:46 am

Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower plants not producing. 601593

Hello SFG Friends!
This is my first year gardening and SFG. I planted some cabbage, broccoli and caulflower about a month ago. The weather has been fairly nice with a few cold days but never freezing. When I planted the plants they were a good healthy size for seedlings. The plants look healthy and are getting bigger with lots of leaves. So far there is no signs of the plants producing any heads.

A friend of mine just planted some broccoli, I noticed her plants did not have very many leaves but there where heads forming already. Will my plants ever produce. I don't have any pictures but I will try and get some. Any ideas?
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Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/1/2010, 10:33 am

Off the top of my head, I'd say too much nitrogen in the soil mix. That would produce lovely large green plants but little "fruit". However, do not fear as broccoli and cauliflower leaves are delicious. Also they might be just getting along a bit slower and will head out in a couple of weeks.
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Post  Little Thumb on 5/1/2010, 11:59 am

So does that mean the other plants won't do well either? I wonder how that happened? I used 4 different kinds of compost. I used mushroom, chicken, cow and cotten burr. I guess we will see what happens. Thanks for the info Belfrybat.

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Post  titans01 on 5/1/2010, 12:09 pm

Now you got me worried. I think I'm in the same boat. I transplanted mine just about a month ago and I don't have any heads either but nice bigger plants. Having never grown this before I figured this was normal.
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Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/1/2010, 12:39 pm

It might be. I was going by the comparison Little Thumb made with her neighbour's plants. Some plants put on more foliage than others then put on their heads. I grow broccoli and cauliflower in the fall from seed, so I'm not sure the maturity rate with transplants. Mine begin to head out about 60-70 days from seeding, and are ready to harvest a month later, but sometimes longer. Patience is truly necessary for a gardener, but is not my long-suit. Are you growing other veggies in that same bed and if so, how are they doing? I like to plant a few radishes among other cool weather plants -- not to eat as I hate them -- but they are a very short maturing veggie and will let me know if the nutrient balance in the soil is OK.
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Post  titans01 on 5/1/2010, 1:06 pm

I do have radishes in the same box and they are doing fine. They are a little behind what the package said for maturity but I planted them pretty early this year so I figured they would be behind a little in the colder weather. And your right I have no patience. Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower plants not producing. Icon_biggrin
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Post  Little Thumb on 5/1/2010, 4:14 pm

Well, I have lots of other plants in my beds, radish, beets, turnips, carrots, lettuce, and many other cold crops. Some lettuce, the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage where transplants. The rest are from seed. The radishes seem to be doing well, from what I can see above ground. The turnips look good. The onions are doing ok. But I don't really have anything to judge by. This is my first garden. I guess I will go cut some of those leaves you say are good to eat and have them for dinner. I do have patience and will wait it out. If I don't get heads atleast I'll have leaves.
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Post  plb on 5/3/2010, 1:16 pm

Little Thumb, it might very well be that your friend has a problem with her plants, not you. Broccoli, for instance, are quite slow to get to maturity. However, if the broccoli plant gets stressed out (for instance because its roots have been disturbed, or the conditions are not right), it might do something called "premature buttoning", i.e. they start producing heads while the plant is still too small. This will lead to a very, very small harvest. Instead if the plant starts producing a head later, when it's larger, you'll get a much larger broccoli head; and after you cut the first head, you'll get some smaller ones too. I believe the same is probably true for cabbages and cauliflowers - none of these plants is quick to get to maturity!
Good luck, I bet your plants will do just fine, just give them time!!!
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Post  Little Thumb on 5/3/2010, 1:54 pm

Thanks PLB, we will see what happens. If I can I'll post some pictures of both plants just for kicks.

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Post  Lavender Debs on 5/3/2010, 2:08 pm

One other "maybe"
Plants grown for transplants are heavily fertilized. They need to look big and healthy when they are sold. The shock of going into a garden sets them back, they stay health looking because of the chemo diet but slowdown in growth to a more normal pace for your area.

I didn't see if yours were store bought plants or not, this is just something that has plagued me in days gone by. They will eventually produce, but they lose most of their head start when they are put into the garden.

Does that make sense?
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Post  Judge Kemp on 5/3/2010, 11:30 pm

I was out weeding and pruning my two Spring Beds today (Zone 5a--earliest planting was 4/14) and I have a few of the Chinese Cabbage plants looking great. I was stunned, however, to see that it appears one of my Cabbage plants was bolting. Same with one broccoli plant--I'll have to take pics. Seems unthinkable they'd be bolting this early.
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Post  plb on 5/5/2010, 10:45 am

Oriental vegetables can be tricky, they bolt for all sorts of reasons - started when it's too cold, growing when it's too hot, roots have been disturbed... I've read a bit of a book by Joy Larkcom called Oriental Vegetables that among the tons of information talks about how to lower the chances of your oriental vegetables bolting. Take a preview here, bolting is treated on page 15 for headed chinese cabbage:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-Dud21XvN30C&pg=PA22&lpg=PA22&dq=%22best+tasting+pak+choy%22&source=bl&ots=EROK190KX2&sig=NsZKNHe74Sz-VfHmukwZbiiyt9I&hl=en&ei=To1gS_OgBpDKjAfcjLjpCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CBgQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=bolting&f=false
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Post  Shoda on 5/5/2010, 1:21 pm

What PLB says make a lot of sense to me based on my current experience. Two months ago, I planted about 8 broccoli seedlings that I purchased at the store into the poor soil of my yard. Two weeks ago, when I finished my first raised bed, I transplanted 6 of the plants into the SFG. (at that time all the plants looked pretty much the same and had not grown a lot since I had planted them).

The broccoli in the SFG has grown to 1 1/2 times the size of those in the dirt. The plants in the dirt have smaller diameter stems but are already starting to bud. The buds on each plant are only about 1/2" in size.

The broccoli in the SFG has gotten larger and the top of the stems, thicker. They do not show any sign of being ready to produce but that is fine. I will wait until they get bigger.

It is interesting to note that the transplanted broccoli still looks a bit stunted, especially the lower stem that continues to be very narrow. I suspect their rough start in life is the reason and I can't wait for next year to start them directly in the Mel's Mix.

Unfortunately, the garden seems to be a waiting game which is hard for those of us that want immediate results! As long as your plants look healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.
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Post  plb on 5/5/2010, 2:09 pm

Shoda, my broccoli had a thin stem for quite a while (they were grown indoors and then transplanted in the Mel's Mix); then, all of a sudden, they thickened and started looking like an "adult" plant. It really happened very quickly; you might see the same thing with yours!
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Post  Judge Kemp on 5/5/2010, 2:54 pm

Thanks PLB. I checked the link out and it looks like the Chinese Cabbage I have is perhaps susceptible to bolt. Good to know the potential reasons why as well.

The best part is that it looks like I can try the "cut and come again method" with this plant. I'll cut it tonight, eat the interior greens and bud stem (to try it out) and see if it comes back.

Also saw that with Chinese Cabbage, I can probably get away with more than one per square--mine is the cylindrical variety.
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Post  Shoda on 5/5/2010, 4:26 pm

PLB - Good to know. Thanks. I will keep an eye on them.
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Post  Little Thumb on 6/2/2010, 3:05 pm

Well, all that patience really is worth it. I finally harvested some large broccoli crowns. They where beautiful and very yummy. I hope everyone else will have the same results.

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Post  plb on 6/2/2010, 3:36 pm

Well done Little Thumb! I'm still waiting for mine, and the plants are huge... Out of curiosity, did you get to compare the size of your broccoli crowns with the ones of your friend's ones?
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Post  Megan on 6/2/2010, 6:48 pm

@Judge Kemp wrote:Thanks PLB. I checked the link out and it looks like the Chinese Cabbage I have is perhaps susceptible to bolt. Good to know the potential reasons why as well.

The best part is that it looks like I can try the "cut and come again method" with this plant. I'll cut it tonight, eat the interior greens and bud stem (to try it out) and see if it comes back.

I am growing Extra Dwarf Bok Choi, and it is already trying to bolt though it really hasn't formed the type of head I'd expected (even though the height is about right for a mature plant). We have eaten some already and it tastes great... but now that it has formed buds, is it too late to try the cut / come again for something like this?
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Post  Little Thumb on 6/3/2010, 9:11 am

@plb wrote:Well done Little Thumb! I'm still waiting for mine, and the plants are huge... Out of curiosity, did you get to compare the size of your broccoli crowns with the ones of your friend's ones?

Yes, the difference was incredible. Mine where big, full and tight. Her poor little plants didn't produce very much, they must have been a different kind. My friend's plant didn't really produce a crown but a wide open bud and not very big one. My crowns looked just like what you get at the grocery store. Very beautiful crowns. It was well worth the wait. I still have side shoots forming. Can't wait since I hear they often taste better. The crown was very good so not sure what more to expect.

I would have a picture if I wasn't so eager to cook my broccoli crowns. Laughing

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Post  plb on 6/4/2010, 2:23 pm

That's great! I don't think it's a variety issue - I think you're confirming what I read, that broccoli that form a head when they're still small end up producing a very disappointing harvest.
Mind you, I wish mine hurried up... They're huge, they're shadowing all the rest of the box (poor carrots...), and still no sign of a head. Maybe I should start worrying!
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Post  Little Thumb on 6/4/2010, 3:01 pm

I had a problem with huge leaves shading the rest of the garden. I was afraid I wouldn't have any broccoli so I figured I am going to eat part of this plant even if it dosn't produce a head. It had so many nice big green leaves so, I cut a few to make room for surrounding plants, and steamed the leaves. Not long after we had a week of rain, after that they sprouted their little heads and grew and grew and grew. Don't be afraid to cut a few of the really big leaves, just dont' cut off all of them. The leaves are really tasty with garlic, salt and pepper. Give the plant lots of water and some time, they will produce.

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Post  plb on 6/7/2010, 4:00 am

It's finally showing a head!!!! I'm so relieved!
I have to say that unless it tastes amazing, I might not grow the standard broccoli again. The plant is pretty much taking 9 squares; beautiful, I'm proud of it, but it's really big. What I think I might go for next year is the other variety I'm growing, the Tendergreen Broccoli. I bought the seeds because I love the tenderstem broccoli I buy at the supermarket; it produces a succession of small florets on a long thin stem (think asparagus size); you eat the floret and the stem, and it has a lovely flavor. The plant I have is producing several florets, and it's growing in a much more compact way. The leaves point up, rather than out, so it really fits in a square. I'll see what the overall harvest and flavor are like, I've been told that it keeps producing stems for a very long time.
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Post  Megan on 6/7/2010, 7:14 am

@plb wrote:It's finally showing a head!!!! I'm so relieved!
I have to say that unless it tastes amazing, I might not grow the standard broccoli again. The plant is pretty much taking 9 squares; beautiful, I'm proud of it, but it's really big. What I think I might go for next year is the other variety I'm growing, the Tendergreen Broccoli. I bought the seeds because I love the tenderstem broccoli I buy at the supermarket; it produces a succession of small florets on a long thin stem (think asparagus size); you eat the floret and the stem, and it has a lovely flavor. The plant I have is producing several florets, and it's growing in a much more compact way. The leaves point up, rather than out, so it really fits in a square. I'll see what the overall harvest and flavor are like, I've been told that it keeps producing stems for a very long time.

Is tendergreen broccoli the same as broccoli rabe / rapini?
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Post  plb on 6/7/2010, 7:45 am

No, it's a different variety. The tendergreen/tenderstem has a much milder flavor than the rabe/rapini. Tenderstem tastes a bit like a mix between calabrese broccoli and asparagus. Rapini has a stronger taste with some bitterness to it.
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