Useful tips for growing green and delicious broccoli!
There are those who hate them, and perhaps because they do not know them enough, those who love them madly and there are those who grapple with the little ones to teach children that broccoli is good, and they are also good, especially if we grow them in our very personal garden.
The secret of broccoli lies in their flavor and for this reason, it is important to always consume seasonal vegetables: because it is during the cold season that they produce healthy tops that have a sweeter flavor than those grown at any other time of the year.
Broccoli grows better in the fall than in the spring, which has a more fluctuating climate. If temperatures get too hot in early spring, broccoli is stressed by heat and prematurely opens their flower buds. The temperatures, then, as the broccoli ripens can cause the formation of bitter heads, with smaller and less tasty florets. In short, broccoli must be grown in the fall and eat them now!
Here’s all you need to know to grow perfect broccoli!
All the secrets of broccoli
The broccoli, otherwise known as broccoli, is nothing but an edible flower that comes from the herbaceous plant Brassica oleracea L. Differences with cauliflower are really minor, but there are: broccoli stands out for buds and inflorescences that are more globe-shaped and branched. And its name, in fact, derives from its buds, which until recently were called bronchi.
The leaves are very numerous, jagged and wave-like, while the plant is very robust, even if it does not bear very heavy colds. In any case, broccoli gives us a really abundant harvest at this time of year, if we commit and start sowing from mid-April. The earliest varieties of broccoli, on the other hand, can also be sown at the end of winter.
Eating broccoli is good for you
Broccoli are vegetables rich in mineral salts such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. They also contain vitamin C, vitamin B1, and B2, dietary fiber. They help fight water retention and are perfect for detoxifying the body and eliminating waste. They are considered valuable, beneficial and healthy foods and everyone should include them in their diet.
And then, if the vegetables come directly from our garden, what more could you want? Growing broccoli by itself means bringing fresh and above all organic ingredients to the table. In short, the reasons for growing broccoli are many, so there are many reasons to learn to appreciate them and get to know them better, perhaps starting from the varieties present in nature.
The varieties of broccoli
There are several varieties of broccoli and three are the most appreciated and cultivated ones. Two of these are varieties that can be grown from spring and even in summer. But be careful: the rule applies only to these two varieties, while for the other types of broccoli what we have explained above applies: the flavor of the broccoli is closely linked to the season and for this reason, it is important to grow them in the autumn and eat them now.
But having said that, let’s get to the varieties!
Romanesco cabbage is beautiful to look at, with its bright green tips and its very instagrammable appearance. This variety is grown from May until September and can be harvested after about 95 days from the time of transplantation. (Yes, you have to wait a little bit but we assure you that it is really worth it).
The maturation is medium-early, it is a very vigorous plant with a very fine grain and very high flower quality. This variety is quite heavy and can weigh up to 1.5 kg and, really positive when cooking it does not emit the typical slightly bad smell of cauliflower!
Winter Cabbage Fiesta
A little less known than the other varieties, this type of broccoli can be grown in the summer, from June to September, and can be harvested 70 days after transplanting. The color is decidedly dark green, the single heads are very compact and this type of broccoli is considered one of the most valuable qualities.
Spring Bel Star
This too is a species of summer cabbage, it can be grown in the spring, starting from March (and up to the month of August), the color, in this case, is dark green and the quality is very high
The right time to plant
You can easily calculate the perfect time to plant broccoli seeds in the fall; if you want to sow the seeds directly in the garden, then start by counting about 100 days before the first autumn frost. If you prefer to grow to start from transplants, instead, calculate about 10 days to add to the “maturity days” based on the variety you are growing.
The right place to plant
Broccoli grows best in full sun and where the soil is slightly acidic – with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8 – fertile, well-drained, but constantly humid and rich in organic matter. The right pH and organic matter help ensure that nutrients, especially essential micronutrients such as boron, are always available. A boron deficiency can cause empty stems to develop in broccoli, but adding too much boron is toxic to plants, so a soil test is always recommended before starting. (and this applies to any type of cultivation)
Autumn broccoli has very specific spacing requirements. If you are growing the vegetable garden in a raised bed, you will have to space the plants about 40 cm away; for gardening in rows, instead, place the transplants of 60 cm inside the row and space the 60 cm rows in turn. Make sure to place the transplants slightly deeper in the soil than the seedlings were in the pot.
Feeding plants well
To grow well, broccoli needs a rich and nutrient-rich soil, so get a nice rich compost and enrich the soil before you start growing.
After picking up the central head of a plant, you can further encourage the extensive production of lateral shoots by scratching some nitrogen-rich fertilizer around the base. It is a small and valid trick that always works, try!
Repair the plants from the cold
Cold temperatures and the first frosts can cause cooling injuries that make the buds purple and sometimes soften the head. Broccoli, in this case, is still good to eat, but it is always good to avoid stress to the plant, especially when we can intervene to avoid it.
Create good protection against low temperatures with plastic sheeting, which offer additional heat even 4-8 degrees and protect crops from severe frosts and extend the harvest season up to four weeks.
Protect plants from pests
Row covers also provide some protection from pests, but the best protection from pest attacks is to grow healthy plants – and this always starts with healthy soil.
But if broccoli suffers from a pest infestation or is attacked by caterpillars, which in this case are particularly destructive, then you will have to intervene with the purchase of specific substances.
To get better tasting broccoli, pick the heads as the buds are just starting to swell, but before the yellow petals start peeping. Always keep an eye on your head because when it starts to open, the individual shoots begin to bloom. Collect the central head by cutting the stem with a certain slope to encourage production in subsequent crops.
It is very important to collect broccoli in the morning, before the plants warm-up, because broccoli has a very high respiration rate; once the heat begins to spread, the plant changes its flavor. Did you know?
A little curiosity about broccoli
Earlier we said that Roman cabbage has the great advantage of not emitting a bad smell when cooking. Here, that slightly unpleasant smell that you smell when broccoli is in the pot to boil is due to the sulfur, which is contained in these vegetables in good quantities.
To limit the damage to the smell of the whole environment, you can squeeze a little lemon directly into the cooking water, or place a slice of good slightly soaked in vinegar on the lid: in this way the bread will absorb the smell!
Here, now you know everything and broccoli for you will have no more secrets!
Therefore? Are you going to be serious this time and have you decided to grow the tastiest broccoli ever? Good choice!
Our advice, then, is to start from the ground and to check if you have a soil already rich in nutrients or if you need to take action to enrich it with the nutrients the plant needs. This phase is very important and the success of cultivation depends on it.
Then follow the simple but fundamental tips that we have suggested to you today and you will see a healthy, tasty and beautiful harvest grow slowly. And a good job everyone!