Broccoli is the common name of a popular cool season vegetable with the scientific name Brassica oleracea italica. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family (Brassicaceae) and varieties include green comet, premium crop, and royal purple head.
Broccoli is high in beta carotene and vitamin C and it produces sulforaphane, a substance that fights cancer.
Fresh Broccoli by Market Manager.
Broccoli prefers to grow in a cool season and it can tolerate temperature below 20°F at night and around 75°F in the day-time.
It has a preference for fertile soil with good drainage and a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
It requires full sun in its growing season.
Growing Broccoli plant by Inyucho.
Growing broccoli is not difficult to do. Broccoli seeds can be planted directly to the ground in early spring, or around 6 weeks before the last frost.
Broccoli can also be started by planting the seeds indoors and transplanting them into prepared garden soils once the seedlings are around four weeks old. When planting seeds indoors, plant around half an inch ( 1.3 cm) deep and 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart. Thin them when they have established enough leaves for healthy growth, and then transplant.
It is best to apply a sufficient amount of fertilizer to the soil before planting. In planting broccoli seeds directly to the soil, start by sowing the seeds around a half inch deep ( 1.3 cm) in loose soil with each of the seeds 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) apart.
When transplanting broccoli seedlings to the soil, plant them around 2 inches (5 cm) deep and around 2 feet (60 cm) apart in rich soil.
Compost or manure can be added to boost the start of broccoli plants growth.
The soil should be kept moist throughout the growing season of the broccoli plants, so watere regularly.
Broccoli plants should be protected and maintained as it grows. Mulch can be added to the soil to keep moisture and to keep weeds from growing.
Collars can be put around each plant to keep the plants from cutworms. Row covers should be used to get rid of insects.
The soil should be maintained at a pH value of between 6.5 and 7.5 pH to keep away club roots. The broccoli plants should get enough air to avoid diseases.
All weeds around the growing broccoli plants should be removed, and the soil should be cultivated regularly.
When the heads of the broccoli plants are already maturing, watering can be cut off.
The soil should be kept organic by applying fertilizer at three week intervals, so as to have a healthy growth of the broccoli plants.
Sprouting Broccoli seedlings photograph by Aimee Rivers.
The first harvest of broccoli plants is carried out by cutting the fully developed central head with around 5 inches (13 cm) of stem from each of the broccoli plants to keep the buds from separating, and growing flowers.
This will encourage the growth of side shoots. After this is done, harvesting can be done in the same way repeatedly, with the side shoots getting smaller for each harvest.
Broccoli produces a central head that is composed of small florets and it is delicious to eat. Its smaller side shoots are called broccoli spears in the market.