Broccoli is sometimes referred to as sprouting broccoli, because once the central head is harvested, smaller side shoots will start to fill in, lengthening the harvest
Common Name(s):Broccoli, Sprouting Broccoli, Calabreseitalica
Exposure:Full sun to Partial Shade. In hot climates, partial shade should help prevent bolting.
Cut the head with about 4" of stalk. New flower heads will soon form in the leaf axils and all around the lower stalk. These will be much smaller than the initial head, but keep harvesting and they will keep producing.
- 'Blue Wind' F1 (49 days) - Improved 'Packman' type. Grows well in most climates.
- 'Calabrese' and 'De Cicco' (60 days) Popular heirlooms. They start producing early and follow with lots of side shoots.
- Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli (80 - 115 days) Sweeter than green broccoli, but it takes forever. Usually grown as a biennial and harvested the following spring.
- 'Romanesco' (75 days) - Heads are spirals of lime green and the texture and flavor are great.
- Broccoli Raab (Brassica campestris) - A close relative, AKA di rapa, rappone or turnip broccoli, never develops a large flower head. It's grown for the leaves.
Pest and Problems:
Diseases include: blackleg, black rot and clubroot. Disease control is best obtained by rotating the crop each year. Clubroot is diminished when you raise the soil pH to about 7.0.
Soil: Broccoli prefers a neutral soil pH , right around 7.0 A rich soil, with lots of organic matter, will keep it growing strong throughout the season.
When to Plant: In colder climates, you’ll get a head start by starting seeds indoors 6-7 weeks before your last frost date. In about 4-5 weeks, the broccoli plants should have reached about 5" tall and they can be put outdoors to begin to harden off. Broccoli can handle a slight frost, once it’s hardened. Follow the same procedure for purchased broccoli seedlings.
In warmer climates, you can direct seed broccoli in very early spring. In hot climates, you can get a second seeding done in late spring/early summer and possibly a late summer planting (July/August) for a fall crop. In areas with mild winters, broccoli will over-winter and be ready for harvest in the spring.
Cool climate gardeners can direct seed, too, but you’ll need to wait until about 1 month before your last expected frost.
Transplanting: Broccoli can be planted an inch or two deeper than it was in its container. Water it well and protect it with a row cover or some other covering, if a hard freeze is expected. Cut worms can attack young broccoli plants, so wrapping a collar around them at transplant time is a good precaution.
Spacing: Give each broccoli plant about 18" in each direction.
Feeding: Broccoli plants shouldn’t need supplemental feeding, if your soil is rich. If they look like they need a boost or you want to hasten maturity, hit them with some nitrogen. Fish emulsion is good for this.
Maintenance:Broccoli doesn’t require a lot of attention, until it’s time to harvest. Keep it well watered and it will grow.
Sources, other than my garden:
- Growing Broccoli and Cauliflower in the Home Garden, Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
- Broccoli, University of Illinois
- The Garden Primer, by Barbara Damrosch [Compare Prices]