Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer

Get to know your veggies--Broccoli

Remember when we were kids how disgusting broccoli was?  The only broccoli I remember being offered was the frozen stuff which I suppose remotely resembled broccoli.  The ONLY thing that made it palatable was the melted Velveeta on top.  I don't even remember anyone growing broccoli when I was a kid, come to think of it.

Broccoli is a member of the brassica family, along with cabbage, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, to name a few.  Broccoli is a little tricky to grow, I must say.  It needs to be timed so it matures in cool weather, meaning spring or fall.  I've had more success with it in the fall (except last year, the broccoli didn't learn how to swim so it drowned a slow, terrible, slimy death (oops, sorry--I keep obsessing about all the rain last year)....back to the present.  The best broccoli I ever grew was in the spring, in a brand new garden bed that only gets about 6 hours of sun a day (the farm is at the foot of a mountain).  The plants were huge and the heads were awesome as well.

Broccoli is prone to those cabbage moth worms, but to take care of them, I spray Bt on the plants every few days and that usually takes care of the problem.  I've tried floating row covers, but somehow those moths always manage to get in there and lay their eggs so not only do I not know the moths are flying about right away, I'm usually greeted by a crowd of worms upon removing the cover from the crop.  Also, I think the row cover tends to make the plants too warm, making them tend to bolt quicker.  This year I've purchased diatomaceous earth which is supposed to kill these cabbage worms by slicing their skin and causing them to deydrate---I can't wait to see that!  (we gardeners get sadistic sometimes, you know.....)

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious veggies we can eat.  Broccoli is high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as fiber.  It also contains several anti-cancer compounds, and a half-cup provides 52 mg of Vitamin C.  The benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes, so a slight nuke in the microwave or just eating it raw would be better than cooking it very much.  Studies have also shown that eating A LOT of broccoli slows down agressive prostate cancer (I'm not sure how much A LOT is) and broccoli is good for your heart.

Broccoli is great raw in a salad, or on a crudite plate with cauliflower (one of its cousins), carrots, celery, and kohlrabi----oh yes, and a big bowl of ranch dressing right in the middle for dipping!  It's also great in stir fries or lightly steamed with butter and salt, or cheese sauce. 

Recipes.....ah, recipes.  This broccoli salad is totally EXCEPTIONAL!  It simply won't last in the fridge (with me around, anyway).   It's from my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes.com, and here's the link to Bodacious Broccoli Salad.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!   I used a colby/cheddar mixed cheese because that's what I had in the fridge.  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Bodacious-Broccoli-Salad/Detail.aspx

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