Advice sought: broccoli heading out too soon

Two years now, most broccoli plants have headed out very early, giving 2" to 4" heads. In the past, with same or similar soil and manure, we've flourishing plants that yield 12" to 14" heads.
Climate in NS is a bit wetter and usually a bit warmer than western Massachusetts or southern NH. We've had an unusually chilly and wet spring this year (after the seedlings were in) but not last year.
Any suggestions to remedy this? Identify the likely cause?
--
Mike Spencer Nova Scotia, Canada

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On 24/06/2015 2:39 PM, Mike Spencer wrote:

Just harvest the heads when they are ready and leave the stump in the ground and then keep harvesting as new nubbeny headlets form. I know a woman who harvested from her broccoli plants for 3 full years before she had to take them out.
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On 6/24/2015 6:32 PM, Fran Farmer wrote:

We do that until the plants die back. I may have mentioned this before but here goes: we have Bright Lights Swiss Chard planted in a flower bed next to the front porch. We planted the chard in early May 2013, it is still producing. We cut it back every couple of weeks and eat the cuttings, the plants keep producing. Luckily the chard only gets sunshine from about 0600 until 1200 and is then in shade for the rest of the day. We live in USDA Heat Zone 8b, Harris Cty, Texas and it gets up into the low nineties F nowadays.
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On 25/06/2015 11:25 AM, George Shirley wrote:

Here is Oz we call that plant Silver Beet (even the one with the rainbow coloured stems) and I LOVE it. Such a very useful plantt ohave in the garden as it means it's always possible to produce a meal from it even if I hadn't been out shopping for weeks (as if that is ever going to happen!).
And it copes with everything our filthy climate can throw at it. Below freezing temps in winter and hot as the hobs of Hades in summer and the dear old stuff still produces and does so for several years. Add to that the fact that the chooks too get to eat it as I harvest it on the way past to their pen. They love it almost as much as i do.
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On 6/24/2015 11:38 PM, Fran Farmer wrote:

Growing up in SE Texas I had never heard of chard. Finally discovered it about twenty years ago and have grown it since. This batch is the first I've grown in the shade and it is truly a perennial here.
Like you we love the stuff, eat it at least twice a week. I also blanch and freeze it for later use without having to pick and clean. There are many varieties of chard but we have planted the Bright Lights here because the homeowner's association directors are the south end of a north bound horse and get prickly if they think we're growing FOOD in our front yard. I don't think they've even noticed the chard or the pear tree that is in our front yard whereas all other homes have a live oak. I call that "stealth" gardening as I also took out a messy hedge in front and planted dwarf Barbados cherry bushes. <G>
We are in our hot time here, temperatures of 90+F daily by noon and doesn't really cool off until about 0200. Lived in Saudi Arabia for five years back in the eighties and had temps up to 125F but there was always a breeze and very little humidity even though we lived on the shore of the Red Sea.
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On 25/06/2015 11:22 PM, George Shirley wrote:

LOL. Sad that there are such morons around IMO. He needs to see a truly good kitchen garden. I think they are beautiful and that is usually the first place in the garden that we go and visit when we do Open Garden Tours.
I don't think they've even noticed the chard or the pear

Mutter, mutter - it's as cold as charity here.
temperatures of 90+F daily by noon and

I don't mind dry inland heat but hate coastal humidity (the sort that occurs in temperate zones).
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On 6/25/2015 9:44 PM, Fran Farmer wrote:

from that source. Got hit by another storm burst yesterday evening. Out of a clear blue sky it suddenly started raining, very heavy for about fifteen minutes and then gone. In that fifteen minutes we got right at two inches in the rain gauge on the back fence. I think we've had about two feet of rain in the last two months. Houston and the surrounding areas got hit with a foot of rain and several people drowned because of it. Luckily we're on higher ground than most of the area. We all live on the former bottom of the ancient Gulf of Mexico, guess we were lucky getting a home on an ancient sand dune.
Picking brown crowder peas again today, those things are coming in like crazy. Sweet chiles and eggplant also producing heavily.
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Oh, yes. We do that. But we were looking for a dozen or so big heads to get the season started, some for the freezer, some for meals dominated by broccoli (broccoli soup, salad, w/ cheese sauce etc.)

Ah, well, nice but not here. Weather gets too cold by November for the plants to produce and of course they freeze in the winter at temps from 0F to sometimes -10F or colder.
--
Mike Spencer Nova Scotia, Canada

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On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 12:39:49 AM UTC-4, Mike Spencer wrote:

Perhaps your soil has gotten low on boron. Boron is a micronutrient that is necessary for good cole crops. The addition of a little laundry additive (Twenty Mule Team Borax) will solve the problem is this is the cause. Steve
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It's possible. Trace elements are a problem in Nova Scotia due to soils and heavy rainfall. We use seaweed for mulch which should help with some trace elements but maybe not boron. I have borax on hand so I can turn a little in around the replacement seedlings.
OTOH,the UMinn. Extension service [1] suggests that boron deficiency leads to "hollow stems with internal discoloration" but blames small heads on immature plants on "nitrogen deficiency, cold temperature shock to young transplants, drought stress or other factors that markedly restrict vegetative growth". The only one of these that's very likely to have affected us is too much cold for the young plants. We had a light frost or two after they were planted.
Thanks for the boron pointer. I knew about boron problems with turnips but not cole plants.
- Mike
[1] http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-broccoli-cabbage-and-cauliflower-in-minnesota/
--
Mike Spencer Nova Scotia, Canada

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