This cool-season crop grows best when daytime temperatures are in the 60s F. Grow in both spring and fall, but avoid mid-summer crops as hot weather can cause premature bolting.

Like spinach, can be grown in the spring or fall. In fact, you may be able to get a continual harvest throughout both seasons if you time planting correctly. A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is rich in vitamins.

 

  • Lifecycle: annual, Biennial grown as an annual.
  • Ease-of-care: moderately difficult
  • Requires good soil, timely planting and protection from pests.
  • Height: 2 to 3 feet
  • Spread: 2 to 3 feet
  • Bloom time:  early summer, mid-summer, late summer, early fall, mid-fall
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Foliage color: medium green, Some cultivars have a bluish cast.
  • Foliage texture: medium
  • Shape: upright


Growing Information

 

Broccoli prefers full sun, but partial shade can prevent plants from bolting (going to seed) in areas with warm spells. Provide a rich, well-drained soil, with plenty of compost. 
 
Cool days and nights are essential once the flower heads start to form. There’s a wide range of days to maturity, so pick a cultivar that will mature before the weather in your area turns hot. Gardeners in most temperate areas can harvest both spring and fall crops. In areas without ground freezes, try growing a third crop by planting a slow-maturing variety such as ‘Marathon’ in winter.

 

Sunlight: full sun, Can tolerate light shade but will slow maturity.

 

Soil conditions: requires well-drained soil, Prefers well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter, pH 6.0 to 7.5. Can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. Needs plentiful, consistent moisture.

 

Planting

 

  • Broccoli is hardy; it can germinate at temps as low as 40ºF.
  • Broccoli requires full sun and moist, fertile soil that's slightly acidic.
  • If you live in a warm climate, a fall planting is best, as broccoli thrives in cool weather. Plant seeds in mid- to late-summer in most places.
  • For spring plantings, direct sow outdoors (or transplant seedlings) 2 to 3 weeks before last spring frost date.
  • For fall plantings, direct sow seeds outdoors 85 to 100 days before your average first fall frost.
  • If you transplant, assume 10 less days for growth or the "days to maturity" on the seed packet.
  • Work in 2 to 4 inches of rich compost or a thin layer of manure before planting.
  • Space plants 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on the side heads you want to harvest.
  • Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 3 inches apart. You will need to thin seedlings.

 

Care

 

  • Fertilize three weeks after transplanting.
  • Provide consistent soil moisture with regular watering, especially in drought conditions. Some varieties of broccoli are heat tolerant, but all need moisture.
  • Do not get developing heads wet when watering.
  • Roots are very shallow, do not cultivate. Suffocate weeds with mulch.
  • Mulch will also help to keep soil temperatures down.

 

Harvest

 

  • In terms of timing: Harvest broccoli when the buds of the head are firm and tight before the heads flower. If you do see yellow petals, harvest immediately.
  • For best taste, harvest in the morning before the soil heats up.
  • Cut heads from the plant. taking at least 6 inches of stem.
  • Cut the stalk of the main head at a slant, about 5 to 8 inches below the head.
  • Most varieties have side-shoots that will continue to develop after the main head is harvested. You can harvest from one plant for many weeks, in some cases, from spring to fall, if you’re summer isn’t too hot.
  • Store broccoli in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you wash before storing, make sure to dry it thoroughly.
  • Broccoli can be blanched and frozen for up to one year.


Special Notes

 

Broccoli is rich in vitamins, One ounce of broccoli has an equal amount of calcium as one ounce of milk.
 
Health Benefits

 

  • Cancer Prevention - Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. It also contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant compound and anti-carcinogen found to not only hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, but also boosts liver function.
  • Broccoli shares these cancer fighting, immune boosting properties with other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
  • Cholesterol Reduction- Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fiber that draws cholesterol out of your body.
  • Reducing Allergy Reaction and Inflammation.
  • Powerful Antioxidant - Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C, plus the flavonoids necessary for vitamin C to recycle effectively. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.
  • Bone Health - Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
  • Heart Health - The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in broccoli, may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.
  • Detoxification -Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin are special phytonutrients that support all steps in the body’s detox process, including activation, neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants. These three are in the perfect combination in broccoli.  Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates (which you read about in inflammation) which help control the detox process at a genetic level.
  • Diet Aid - Broccoli is a smart carb and is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Furthermore, a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories.
  • Alkalizes Your Body - Like many vegetables, broccoli helps keep your whole body less acidic, which has a host of health benefits. Read the dangers of an over acid body at: Balance Your Body.

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Broccoli Romanesco - Seeds

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