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Broccoli, Again … and Oranges

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm contributor

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bitter oranges

Photo by Rick Gush

These bitter oranges growing in our garden are pretty cold hardy. They are even planted all over Rapallo as street trees, which makes the city look nice at this time of year.

The wave of broccoli continues, and we’re eating it almost every other day. This is a good thing, as I really like broccoli. We’re eating mostly steamed broccoli and some broccoli with pasta. We have so much that I’m also eating it raw as my snack for when working in the garden. 

The first heads are all gone now, and some of them were really big and heavy, but now we’re in the re-growth phase, which will actually produce more broccoli than the first-head phase. One can feel the explosion that is about to come. As the days get longer and the weather warms, the more quickly the secondary sprouts will grow.


Photo by Rick Gush

Second-head broccoli is really sweet, and the stems are really tender and tasty.

My strategy last fall of planting 100 broccoli plants is really paying off, and my wife agrees that this has been one of our best winter-garden harvests ever.  We ate the first broccoli heads way back in early December, so we’ve already enjoyed more than two full months of harvesting. I imagine we’ll keep picking broccoli until sometime in late March. I’d like to start preparing some of the beds for spring planting, but I suppose I’ll just have to be patient and wait until the broccoli bonanza ends.

In other garden news, our citrus trees, most notably the lemons, are fruiting now. We’ve harvested a few dozen oranges from the young orange trees, but the biggest group of orange fruits is on this scrawny little tree tucked into a sliver of the cliff. I’m not sure where the dirt is, as the tree seems to be growing out of a crevice in the rocks, but even without obvious soil to support it, this tree is growing very well. 

These oranges are too bitter to eat, but I have managed to make some nice orange juice by adding some sweetener or mixing the juice with sweet orange juice. I really like fresh squeezed orange juice, and my wife makes it for me many times every week. After so many years of drinking frozen concentrated juice back in the States, to be able to drink fresh juice all the time is a luxury for me. 

My favorite has to be the red orange juice that she makes from the blood oranges from Sicily. Yummy! Unfortunately, the blood oranges don’t fruit so well up here where it’s colder, so we planted all navel oranges in our garden. But the blood oranges are pretty inexpensive in the markets right now, so we can gorge without spending much. Nifty, huh?

Read more of Rick's Favorite Crops »

Give us your opinion on Broccoli, Again … and Oranges.
Submit Comment »
Ha! I like the idea of broccoli as a house plant!
Rick, Rapallo, YT
Posted: 3/4/2011 12:35:38 AM
broccoli is fun to grow. Had an accidental gardening adventure this past winter in the chilly frozen New England area. I had forgotten to bring my container broccoli plant to the compost pile and when I noticed it in December, I brought it inside since the plant was proving to be quite sturdy.Best idea i ever had! I was rewarded with mini broccoli heads and lots of leaves. Made for some interesting converstaions.
mary, boston, MA
Posted: 3/2/2011 5:24:41 PM

About the Blogger

Rick Gush

Rick Gush
Rick Gush has long been a staunch organic gardener. While a student at the University of California at Davis he worked at local tomato and sugar beet farms and continued in the agricultural and horticultural industries for many years. A career move in the 1990s led him to design computer games, but no matter how much of a techie he’s become, gardening and farming remain his principal passions.

In 2000, Rick moved to Italy, where he writes to you about his cliff garden and other experiences in Italian urban agriculture.

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