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Marie Iannotti

Too Cold for Broccoli?

By May 13, 2013

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Some vegetables can be challenging to grow. I'd put broccoli on that list. There are years when the plants grow beautifully, but the heads refuse to form. Strange, since so many vegetables flower too quickly and bolt to seed.

Sometimes it's a simple case of too much nitrogen fertilizer. More likely, it's weather related. Although broccoli is considered a cool weather vegetable, it is somewhat tender as a seedling and doesn't like cold, wet weather. When seedlings are set out before the temperature hovers around 50 F., they can set tiny, premature heads, called buttons. Once buttons have formed, you may not get a large head at all.

Compounding matters, broccoli doesn't like excess heat and won't form heads if the temperature hits the 90s F. during the day and especially if it doesn't cool off at night. If that happens, frequent watering, mulching and a little shade will help.

If this all sounds like too much work, try Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It's planted in the cool days of fall and allowed to over-winter. It starts setting florets in early spring.Or grow broccoli raab. Similar in flavor, but grown predominately for its leaves.

Do you have any tips for growing lovely, plump broccoli?

Photo: greyman / stock.xchng.

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