Broccoli Oddity

Very strange – my first broccoli plant to form anything resembling the part you eat bolted… yellow flowers started appearing in early January! Fortunately the second one right next to it did not develop the broccoli crown quite as fast, and seems to be developing properly. The only thing I can think of that was different is that the first one bolted in colder temps… which is opposite of what I would expect – I would think higher temps would cause a plant to bolt. At any rate, I saw some bees enjoying the rare January flowers the other day – that was cool. I thought bees were dormant in winter, even Houston’s pseudo-winter. One positive note is that I can harvest seeds from the flowers in a while, and then plant more next fall.

Here’s a comparison shot showing the flowering broccoli on the left and the soon-to-be-eaten one on the right.

Broccoli Comparison

Plant Guilds

I’ve been learning about plant guilds, groups of plants that grow well together and in a symbiotic relationship. One of the best known ones is the trio of corn, beans, and squash. Corn grows tall, providing a trellis for climbing beans. Beans fix nitrogen back into the soil, helping others grow. Squash covers the ground, providing a natural mulching effect, reducing the need to water and preventing weeds from gaining hold.

I am curious about combinations well-suited for the Houston area…  I don’t really care to grow corn, but it would be neat to grow something in front of my aquaponics growbeds, making them a bit more sightly. Of course, aquaponics is the real focus of my gardening interest, but this is a nice use of small shale that I have left over, which is good for mixing with the clay soil to improve drainage.

Whatever I pick should not get taller than 4 feet tall, so as not to steal sun from the growbeds. I wonder if there is a good combination guild for artichoke? I also wonder how hard it would be to transplant my aquaponics artichoke plants into the ground…

Here’s a combination that sounds interesting:

Strawberries with chives and borage

  • the strawberries provide ground cover, fruit, and leaves for tea
  • the chives provide herb crop, mulch, aromatic insectiary deterrant, and can produce edible flowers to attract pollinators (if you let it grow out that long
  • the borage provide edible greens, and edible flower pods/flowers to attract pollinators