Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Clash of Gardening Styles

I’ve heard about the contention that arises between a husband and wife or 2 flatmates who share a garden but can’t agree on how it should be done. Everybody’s different and has their own style, theme or approach that they want to work on. Some like it formal, some like it informal. Some prefer to plan everything carefully, others like to leave everything to chance and let nature do its thing on its own.

Sometimes, my wife Izumi and I also disagree. For me, I prefer to have a finite plan that is clear and well defined. I like to clear an area, turn over the soil and grow my crop. Then after harvest, I like to pull everything out and start all over again. I don’t have a lot of patience for plants that aren’t performing as I think they should, or plants that are taking up more space than I think they’re worth.

But I have to admit there is some merit in doing some things Izumi’s way. She often likes to let things go to seed, so she doesn’t like it when I pull stuff out too soon. She likes things to be left alone and given a chance to see what they can do.

Take this broccoli, for example...

Can you guess how long this has been in the garden? It’s actually into its third year now. If Izumi hadn’t protested each time I said I was going to pull it out, it would’ve been long gone.

The only reason I’ve allowed it to stay is because it has become “the Broccoli Plant that Keeps on Giving”. In fact that was the title I had in mind for this post, but it was taking too long to get to the point and I came to feel the real story lay in the value of learning from other’s gardening styles.

The point is, I am totally amazed at what this broccoli plant has given in terms of fruit. Something I would never have learned if I continued doing things my way.

In Auckland we can pretty much grow broccoli all year round, so this thing seems to continuously flower from one season to the next. But it has become unbelievably prolific. I have attempted to circle in red all the little flower heads that are forming and were visible in the above photo. I counted about 25 and that’s just what can be seen from this angle. There were more besides these all at various stages of growth elsewhere on the plant.

Admitedly, the flower heads aren’t that big, but there’s plenty of them. So contrary to what I used to believe about broccoli's flowering only once and that’s it, if you just cut the head off the plant at harvest time and leave the root in the ground, it will start shooting from the sides and continue shooting as long as you keep plucking off the heads.

Perhaps I should concentrate on feeding the soil. Maybe I can increase the size of the heads.

Anyway, there was enough for a meal this time.


  1. That's why 2 heads better than one. We have a small pepper plant that's in its 3rd year also.

  2. I've been thinking about the pepper myself, Charles. But I seem to recall seeing it get damaged by the frosts in previous years. We usually have 2 or 3 good frosts. Funny thing is, I dont think we've had one frost yet this winter and spring's only a couple of weeks away.
    Perhaps I'll try your idea and leave the pepper in the ground from last year. Doing so might give me a head start on the pepper season.