Growing Broccoli Tips and Considerations
Learn all about growing broccoli, including the best broccoli varieties, growing conditions and more.
Romanesco and purple cauliflowers are members of the same family as broccoli.
When it comes to growing broccoli, fantastic flavor is always the ultimate reward. Here are some tips to help you grow great-tasting broccoli that is heads and shoulders above the rest.
During market days, our customers were amazed at the size and flavor of our broccoli. I attributed some of the credit to the use of rabbit manure and choosing the right variety, but a lot of the credit goes to the vegetable itself. Its culinary versatility, million-dollar taste, and ease of cultivation make broccoli one of the most desirable vegetables to grow. And when grown to maturity in the cool weather of spring or fall, the result is a sweeter-tasting head with truly gourmet flavor. To produce the biggest and tastiest heads, keep these tips in mind.
Be selective with broccoli varieties
Different broccoli varieties are designed for different growing seasons. Some perform best when planted in early spring, while others excel when planted later in summer for a fall crop. For example, Packman is an early-maturing variety best suited for a fall crop; it’s prone to buttoning (producing smaller than normal heads) if planted in early spring.
Some great spring broccoli varieties are Blue Wind, Express, Belstar and Fiesta. Varieties that tolerate summer’s heat include Arcadia, Green Magic and Gypsy. Prime picks for a fall harvest include Premium Crop, Marathon, and the ever-versatile Arcadia and Belstar — and Packman.
Also consider when and how a variety develops its head. There are two types of broccoli: heading and sprouting. Some heading types form usable side shoots once the central head is cut. Sprouting types form lots of small florets within the leaf axils. Some heading types have excellent side shoot production while others mature their heads all at the same time — perfect for freezing.
Other varieties, like romanesco, grow an enormously large plant that takes up a lot of space. If you have limited space, or plant in containers, there are a few varieties that use less than 1 square foot, such as Small Miracle.
Growing broccoli: focus on speed
Broccoli belongs to the Brassica genus and is closely related to other cole crops such as cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. The real secret to growing a prime head of any cole crop is to grow it fast.
One way to get your broccoli off to a fast start is to know when to use seeds and when to use transplants. Transplants are often best for early plantings, as seeds have a tough time germinating in cold soil. You can grow your own transplants by sowing seeds indoors five to eight weeks before your last spring frost. Set 4- to 6-week-old hardened-off starts into the ground about four weeks before your last spring frost, or up to seven weeks if properly cloched. Young seedlings can withstand a light frost, but cover them if a heavy frost is expected.
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