When to harvest broccoli

The other day I was asked how long it takes for the flowers to turn into broccoli… Well the answer is never and forever.The head of broccoli that we like to eat is actually produced before it flowers, once it gets to that flowering stage its too late!

I decided to post pictures of the development of the broccoli head so that you know when its ready to be picked.

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Small broccoli head starting to form which sprouts from the center of the plant. The size of the head at maturity will vary depending on weather – if its cooler the head will be denser and larger, if its warmer it will be looser and smaller.
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Large broccoli head ready to be picked, notice the nice tight green tips. To harvest use a sharp knife or shears and cut it off at a slight angle about 4 inches below the branching portion.
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Large broccoli head just starting to flower, at this point the head is still edible but you need to harvest immediately. Notice the tips take on a yellowish hue and begin to bulge and loosen up.
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Broccoli head fully flowered, at this point it is not edible. Saving seeds from broccoli is rather difficult so it is typically best to just cut it off and compost it so that it will keep growing other heads.
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Broccoli plants only produce one large head but if the main head is cut off properly you should have small florets form around that main trunk. Each time a head/floret is harvested the following ones will be even smaller. Continue to harvest until the size is no longer worthwhile then pull the entire plant for compost.
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