Texas Weather Confuses Plants!

picture of broccoli head flowers

Flowering Broccoli–Jan 24, 2014

The motorists stranded in Atlanta due to snow and ice on the roads is a pretty good indicator about how well the South is prepared to deal with the infrequent occurrence of winter storm weather.

Conditions in Texas aren’t much better. It has been quite cold around here—and it’s not over yet–with some weather agencies indicating possible snow/ice are in the long term forecast for later in the first week of February–that’s not looking good for the groundhog!

In this area, we’ve gotten the cold winter storm conditions (lows in the upper teens, highs in the lower 30’s with ice/snow mixes) mixed with warm spring conditions (lows in the 40’s, highs in the 70’s) immediately followed by days of Spring the plants are quite confused!

Broccoli is a “cool” weather plant that performs best when temperatures are in the 60’s. In my garden, the broccoli is still growing, but the broccoli heads are very small—but still taste better than anything I can purchase at the grocery store.)

Normal appearing broccoli head with buds

Broccoli “buds”, Jan. 24, 2014

The broccoli part that is consumed consists of flower buds. Given warmer temperatures and increasing daylight hours, those buds will open to reveal the flowers (see yellow flowers, top picture.). Other plants in the garden (directly next to the flowering broccoli) are at different stages of development. Depending on the timing of weather conditions and maturity of individual plants, those broccoli have heads that are still buds (picture above).

Notice on the “normal” broccoli — the buds are very compact; whereas on the flowering broccoli–the buds are enlarged with flower petals.

Both forms are edible—the flowering plant will tend to be more stringy (fibrous, like celery strings) and tough even after cooking, so it’s a matter of choice.

Garden Fresh Broccoli

Picture of broccoli

Broccoli, Jan. 2, 2013

On January 2, 2013, I harvested a small amount of broccoli from the garden (picture to left, top). The cauliflower was still very small on the plants (about the size of a large marble), and the cabbage appeared to be within two weeks of harvesting.

Unfortunately, this will probably be all that we obtain from the “Fall” garden–due to the extreme cold weather we are experiencing now. It was 20 degrees this

Oct 19, 2013 Fall Garden Plants

Oct 19, 2013 Fall Garden Plants

morning (unusual, even for January) and it will be closer to 15 by tomorrow (Tuesday, January 7, 2013) morning.

On October 19, 2013, small broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plants were transplanted into the garden in October. Four rows were planted (from left to right, picture to left); broccoli (Waltham), cabbage (Copenhagen), cabbage (Early Jersey Wakefield), and cauliflower (Snow Ball). Notice also — the corn plants on the far left of the picture.

The plants are usually transplanted to the garden

Picture of Plants in rows.

Fall Plants, Jan. 2, 2013

around mid-September. Time from planting to harvesting for all the transplanted plants is 75 to 95 days. To avoid the really cold weather (hard freezes) that slow plant growth, we usually plant to begin harvesting around December 1 (75 days before December 1 is about September 15.) This year, however, the excess moisture from late Summer and early Fall left the garden soil too muddy to work until October.

On January 2 (75 days after planting), the plants are nearly mature; broccoli is ready to harvest (see 3rd picture at left). Notice also, the corn plants at the far left—stalks are brown

Broccoli head on Plant

Broccoli head on Plant

from freezing temperatures. Compare the two garden pictures; note the missing plants in the 3rd row, from the left, were not replaced. (The entire garden will be plowed under in the Spring–some time in February when the compost is added.)

Finally, a few pictures of the broccoli growing on the plants ( to left) and a cabbage plant (bottom).

Cabbage Plant, Top View

Cabbage, Top View