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Broccoli/Cauliflower help

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BackyardBirdGardner
doc_jh
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Post  doc_jh 3/30/2011, 12:11 pm

Trying out broccoli and cauliflower this year and need some help. I started mine from seed back in Feb. They shot up and got leggy(no light yet). Now they are 3-4 inches tall and stuck there. Seems like they are not growing at all. The room they're in stays about 75 during the day and around 60-65 at night with plenty of moisture. Is it too hot for them or something else?
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 3/30/2011, 12:18 pm

I wouldn't panic yet. My broccoli and cauliflower grew slow, too. Heck, it's in the garden now and still growing slow. I went by the local store carrying transplants, and there's weren't much bigger....and I bet they started earlier.

If you remember reading up on broccoli, Mel says to plant what.....like 10-12 weeks before your frost date? That's a lot of time to stay in a little bitty transplant pot under grow lights....like 6 weeks before moving outside, right? That tells me they aren't going to compete with radishes for speed.

Mine felt a little leggy to me, too. So, I just planted them a touch deeper than they were when I moved them. That gave their stems a little more rigidity. I don't think we should plant them as deep as tomatoes, but a little deeper won't likely hurt.

Are they putting out their true leaves or still working on only the seed leaves?
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Post  bullfrogbabe 3/30/2011, 10:56 pm

Once the broccoli seeds germinate I put them under the grow lights with the fluorescent tubes as close to the plants as I can get them. As they grow, I inch the lights up. I blow a fan on them to make them move a little bit, as this stimulates the stem to thicken. They are very slow growing and only 4-5 inches tall come garden transplant time. I did re-pot them once while they growing and buried the stems a bit deeper in the larger peat pots to add some support. I learned about the fan trick after my seedlings got leggy but will get the fan on them earlier this year.

My broccoli were still a bit floppy come planting time last year, so I added foam-covered wire supports to each pot to hold them up. When I transplanted them into the garden, planted them deep enough so the soil went part way up the stem (about inch) so they couldn't fall over when I removed the supports. Once outside they started to thicken up really well. Real sun works better than cool growing lights.

Not sure how caulifower will look or grow, this is my first attempt at growing them. So far they look like the broccoli. I have always assumed cauliflower to be shorter and more compact than broccoli but I have never seen it growing before -- just the white heads bought at the store! Do they get tall like broccoli?

I found a dwarf variety of broccoli to try this year -- called 'Munchkin' that is supposed to be more compact than calabrese green sprouting broccoli. I have some of both started, so I'll find out this year if it does any better. My broccoli grew very large with strong healthy stems and leaves but the heads were really small. I also had root crop production problems -- lots of leaves on beets, turnips, and radishes but no bulbs/roots so I think my MM may have a nutrient issue, possibly a shortage of phosphorus. I'll have to get better compost or try adding bone meal this year to see if I can remedy this. If I don't get decent broccoli production this year I will likely abandon broccoli in the future as I could grow a pile of carrots or lettuce in those squares.
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Post  quiltbea 3/30/2011, 11:20 pm

My broccoli and cabbage seedlings are doing fine under lights.
The starting mix has to be a good one. They don't need fertilizer for the first few weeks, but in about a month a feeding of fish emulsion will help a lot.
Broccoli/Cauliflower help 03-30-10
These Broccoli seedlings are 5 weeks from sowing seeds. I had to transplant them into 16-oz soda cups that I slit down the sides for air pruning.

Broccoli/Cauliflower help 03-30-11
These are my cabbages started around the same time. They are still in 2" soil blocks but I really need to up-pot them to 16-oz cups tomorrow. They need more room for their roots.
Broccoli/Cauliflower help 03-30-12
These cauliflowers I started 3 weeks ago and they, too, are in 2" soil blocks but won't go into 16-oz cups for maybe another week. It depends on their growth.

Its watch and wait and lights up or down and brushing a piece of printer paper across their tops a couple times a day to strengthen them and watering them from the bottom. I even talk to my plants when I visit them.

I'm hoping warmer days will make my garden accessible in a couple weeks so I can get these brassicas into the ground soon.
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Post  ModernDayBetty 3/31/2011, 1:02 am

Thanks a lot quiltbea now I'm jealous! Good look'n plants!
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Post  camprn 3/31/2011, 6:17 am

@doc_jh wrote:Trying out broccoli and cauliflower this year and need some help. I started mine from seed back in Feb. They shot up and got leggy(no light yet). Now they are 3-4 inches tall and stuck there. Seems like they are not growing at all. The room they're in stays about 75 during the day and around 60-65 at night with plenty of moisture. Is it too hot for them or something else?
If i were you, in your zone, I would harden them off and plant them in the garden. When you put them in the garden, plant them a few inches beeper to support the stalk. Good luck. Very Happy
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