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Chillin with the Coles (Broccoli)

By Catherine Smith (doccat5May 10, 2013
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Your kids will love homegrown broccoli! It is a cool season vegetable that prefers sunny locations and fertile, well-drained soil. Incorporate plenty of organic matter into the area before planting.

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(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on January 7, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)  

Plant seeds 1/4-3/4 inch deep, 2-3 weeks before the last frost in the spring. Add an extra week or two to the planting time if using seed, when planting in the fall.
Avoid growing during the heat of summer as yield and quality are greatly reduced. After harvesting the main head, side dress with compost, a high in nitrogen fertilizer or liquid fish emulsion fertilizer. Transplants can be used to provide earlier harvest. Ideally, seeds or transplants should be spaced 12-18 inches between plants in the rows with rows 2-3 feet apart. Close placing has a tendency to reduce head size and side shoot development. Mulch between plants to help control weeds and conserve moisture. Water deeply but infrequently. You can interplant with other various root crops including lettuce, spinach, radishes and I personally prefer to use daikon radishes. The broccoli likes "cool feet" and helps to shade the lettuce and spinach, the daikons sliced thin make a great addtion to a stirfry with the broccoli.

Insect and Disease and Controls: Aphids-use of insecticidal soaps, or strong water streams to dislodge insects, appropriate insecticides Cabbage Worms and Loopers=spraying with Bacillus Thuringiensis or using row covers or cloches to control insects Flea Beetles-mainly affect seedlings control with appropriate insecticides. It is important to rotate this crop to a different planting areas on a yearly basis as it is predisposed to clubroot and other diseases that effect cole crops. Using good sanitation measures help you avoid those type of problem.

Planting broccoli in the fall has many advantages, in that there are fewer insect pests, while the growing cycle is slower, the quality and taste of the produce seems to be sweeter and more flavorful or at least it seems that way to us. Broccoli gets sweeter with a nip or two of cold. I am currently growing Green Comet (55 days; early; heat tolerant) and Green Goliath (60 days; spring, summer or fall; tolerant of extremes). I am intrigued by Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli (60 days) it's a purple heirloom broccoli designated to grow better in the spring which I am planning on trying next year.

Broccoli has excellent nutritional value in that has low sodium, no fat, no cholesterol, high vitamin C, low in calories (without lots of gooey cheese on the side) and source of folate, calcium and Vitamin A.

Broccoli heads should be harvested when the heads are compact but before the flower buds open. Mature heads are 6-12 inches in diameter and should be cut with stems 8-10 inches long. With additional water and fertilizer, broccoli will produce many 4-6 inch long side shoots. Broccoli can be refrigerated for about 1-2 weeks. To preserve fresh broccoli, blanching and freezing is the easiest method to use. body { background: #FFF; }


  About Catherine Smith  
Catherine Smith Hubby and I have been doing Organic Gardening off and on for over 25 years. Just finishing the Virginia Master Gardening classes at the end of Nov 07. I love talking and teaching gardening to anybody that will listen.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Broccoli Rabe gloria125 1 18 Apr 1, 2011 11:05 AM
good info! Zanymuse 6 38 Jan 8, 2008 3:32 AM
Great info Robynznest 2 15 Jan 7, 2008 8:57 PM
exactly the info I needed cathy4 3 27 Jan 7, 2008 5:57 PM
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