March 9, 2023
Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is part of the cruciferous family. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, magnesium, and calcium. Broccoli is low in calories, contains essential fiber and is a good source of antioxidants. Studies have also linked its consumption to a reduction in the risk of certain types of cancers.
Broccoli is a cool-season, leafy vegetable that belongs to the large Brassica genus. It is an incredibly versatile crop that can be used in salads, soups, main dishes, and more. With its short growing season, it makes for a great choice for home gardens. Here’s how to get started and grow some delicious broccoli in your own backyard.
When it comes to broccoli, there are several varieties you can choose from, each with their own unique characteristics. The popular ‘Calabrese’ is an Italian heirloom variety and produces large heads. The ‘De Cicco’ variety is a hybrid variety with smaller heads but they produce multiple smaller florets. There is also the ‘Green Goliath’ variety which has large heads and long-keeping quality. Whichever variety you decide to grow, make sure you check the days to maturity before you get started.
The best way to start growing broccoli is by starting the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. Use a soil-less potting mix and fill the seed starting trays with it. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and press them into the soil lightly. Keep them at a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with consistent moisture. When the seedlings are about 4 inches tall, you can relocate them outside, if the weather permits it. Give them plenty of sunshine and space to grow.
Broccoli plants need lots of sunlight and consistent access to moisture. Regularly water the plants, about 1 inch of water per week. You can also add a general fertilizer to the soil a few weeks before the harvest to give the plants a nutritional boost. In addition to that, add a layer of straw mulch around the plants to help keep the soil moist and cool. Make sure to remove any stalks with flowers, these can be bitter and woody.
Your broccoli plants should be ready to harvest in about 55 to 70 after they’ve been planted. The heads should be dark green, tight and firm. You can start to harvest the main heads and side shoots when they are about 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Use a sharp knife to make the clean cuts, and you can start to harvest the side shoots about a week after the main heads have been cut.
It is best to consume the freshly harvested broccoli heads as soon possible, however you can also store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To do so, wrap the broccoli heads in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Make sure the head is dry before storing, and keep the temperature of the refrigerator at 34 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing broccoli this way will help preserve it’s flavor and texture.
Broccoli is a great choice for home gardeners due to its short growing season. When the right conditions are met, you can easily grow delicious broccoli in your backyard. All it takes is the right variety, proper care and attention, and you’ll have your own fresh-from-the-garden broccoli heads in no time!