For a while, we stopped growing broccoli. We had a year or two when the plants were not very productive. Then we had a year when groundhogs ate four consecutive plantings. With limited space in the garden we decided that the broccoli harvest did not justify the space that it required especially since there are still groundhogs in the area.
Young broccoli plants
In 2015, we decided to give it another try. We really love broccoli, and it's easier to grow organic broccoli than to find good quality broccoli in the store.
One of the reasons we're again growing it is that we read that not only the crown and the side shoots can be eaten, but also the leaves! Since leaves are never on broccoli in the store, it never occurred to us to eat the leaves. Oddly, it didn't occur to us to eat the stalk either, although the stalk is one of our favorite parts when we purchase broccoli in the store.
By eating pretty much everything except the roots, broccoli earns its space in the garden!
A beautiful head of broccoli
In those years when all went well, we ended up with beautiful heads of broccoli. The small side shoots continued to develop, so harvesting the main head didn't mean the harvest was over.
We found we had to look carefully for green worms on broccoli. They blend in too well! (They seem to be more obvious on kale and collards, although they are still well camouflaged.) It helps to soak vegetables in salt water before preparing them for dinner.