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Weekly Alibi
 Aug 2 - 8, 2007 

The Seedy Side of Gardening

By Chef Boy Ari

Q: Dear Chef Boy Ari,

My garden plot is a little shady. According to the seed packet, my broccoli plants should be fine with partial sun. But they’re already starting to flower, having skipped the tasty head stage. Is there something I can do to stop them from flowering? What gives?

—Floretless

A: Dear Floretless,

Your broccoli plants want to make as many seeds as they can, and under good conditions they will grow as much as possible before flowering. A larger plant will make a larger “pre-floral organ”—aka “head,” the part you eat—which leads to a larger flower, and hence more seeds. Your broccoli went to seed early, probably in response to some kind of environmental stress.

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