Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Have you heard of broccolini?

I never knew there was such a vegetable and it's flourishing in my garden! I just discovered this last Saturday as I was looking for fennel bulbs at Pricesmart. I saw several bunches of this vegetable that looked so much like what I have in my garden. They were labelled broccolini.

It made sense.

You see, for many months, I had been waiting to see big, compact broccoli heads grow from my "broccoli" plants. Many small heads kept appearing but none became big enough. They would grow to be a little smaller than tennis balls then start spreading out. If I didn't harvest them soon enough, yellow flowers would start shooting up. When this happened, I would simply assume their growth was "derailed". Soon the stems of flowers would grow very long and produce pods. I collected the seeds from the pods after they dried, and re-planted them or gave them away. I already have several young plants that are growing in two separate planters where I used to grow wild plants, a.k.a. weeds.

Occasionally, I harvested whatever seemed big enough. But I have always wondered why I was not getting regular-sized ones you see in the market. Now I know why.

When I did a bit of research on the Internet, I found out that broccolini is a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It resembles broccoli. In fact, it is often mistaken as a young broccoli. But it's said to have a sweeter flavour. You can sautee it, steam it, roast it, boil it or stir-fry it, or put in your sinigang. Just like broccoli.

This is broccoli.

This is broccolini.

Because of my ignorance, I have let many broccolini heads--or stems--mature more than necessary. I could have done a lot of things with them. Blame it on the garden centre that did not label the plants correctly when I bought them. What did I know? Sometimes I couldn't even tell a weed from a plant.

It's a good thing broccolini plants are sturdy and perennial. I don't see them dying any time soon unlike my green beans that are slowly fading away. Even broken broccolini stems that I stick in the soil recover and grow.

Now that I know I am growing broccolini, I know better what to do with it. I expect to have a bigger harvest next year.

Will there be any more surprises from my vegetable garden?

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