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The big wonder of a small broccoli

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 by in Current events, My Story & Ideas


Around January of this year I decided to venture my hands at cultivating my own herb and vegetable garden. I have never been known for having the proverbial “green fingers” and only ever really had a couple of indoor plants and/or ferns that required very little. I took to my plan to create my own garden with gusto! I did some research, bought seedlings, wooden planters (protected from the dogs with plastic mesh and a wire fence. I watered the plants daily, rushed home from work to talk to them when I got home, and they responded in a way I could never have imagined. Tomatoes were the first to shoot up and flower. And when I told the green beans that the tomatoes were making them

The humble and majestic green bean

The humble and majestic green bean

look bad (in a kindly way), they sallied forth with new vigour to astonish me within 48 hours! In my entire life I have not seen a bloom as beautiful as the humble green bean. It took my breath away when the first one came out to greet me quite unexpectedly one morning. Peas, squash, lettuce, beetroot and herbs like mint, basil (with which I made my very own basil pesto by hand), parsley! Everything thrived! The whole atmosphere and fragrance of my humble little yard changed as nature did its job perfectly, responding to the enthusiasm (if somewhat tempered by blissful ignorance of how cultivation of herbs and vegetables should really ‘normally’ be undertaken).

As summer turned to autumn and the biting cold of winter started to set in, I could see (as one might expect) the garden slowly adjust. The tomatoes had yielded their crop as had the beans and peas, which slowed and eventually went into their own special kind of hibernation. The celery, basil, parsley and mint were still flourishing. And then there was the lone broccoli….

I had planted it along with everything else. It grew slowly at first and then started shooting upwards, just leaves and more leaves. About 30 cm into the air I wondered if there could ever be a broccoli or if it was just going to flower and then wither (as a lettuce does if you leave it to its own devices – I discovered this the hard way). And so I continued to watch and water, keep them company and check to see that they were doing alright. A few more weeks went by as the cold and wet weather of Cape Town’s winter’s set in. More leaves, another 10 cm of growth.

And then, one Saturday morning, as I went outside, the sun just fully risen and the dew still on the leaves, behold a stem of broccoli! At the top of this tall, strong plant, a tiny, tender shoot of broccoli. Another 2 weeks have since passed by and this shoot (pictured above) is not rising up out of the leaves, and another little one I saw this morning is forming below it. I was blown away by this tiny persevering vegetable – braving the cold, getting a lot less sun than its companions in my square metre garden needed, buffeted by storm winds and torrential rains under my bedroom window, and despite all of that it continued to grow steadily until it was ready to give its fruit. In my ignorance I imagined a broccoli to grow closer to the ground, and still now I don’t understand the wisdom of going through so much growth to carry the weight of a head of broccoli on a stem high in the air and no thicker than my thumb, but I have seen the broccoli come out of the most unexpected circumstances. This nourishing green that nature had gone through so much trouble to produce in my garden. And I am in awe.

Never give up. Never surrender. Our understanding is so limited. Sometimes we are quick to judge something or someone we do not understand, rashly make a decision that will have far-reaching consequences, when sometimes all it takes is patience and to approach that which we don’t understand with love, trusting that things will work out as they are meant to, that the growth path of a soul or the growth path of those involved in a given event or circumstance will ultimately bring them where they are meant to be. A little broccoli reminded me of this lesson. If we would but walk with our eyes, ears, hearts and minds open, everything can be our teacher.