Broccoli is one of several vegetables in the Brassica oleracea of the Brassicaceae (or mustard family). broccoli is one of several varieties of vegetables in the genus kale. It is an annual plant that growing broccoli from seed.
In fact, it is a variant of the cabbage that we all know, a crop that belongs to the cabbage family and has unopened inflorescences instead of having leaves like other members of the subspecies. Not everyone knows that it is genetically the closest to Broccoli, or more precisely. Broccoli is simply a descendant of Cauliflower, which is younger than the latter.
Broccoli was acquired by simple selection around the fifth or sixth century B.C. Of course, no one even knew about such a concept as breeding at that time. For a long time, centuries, in fact, Broccoli was only grown in what is now Italy. broccoli means germination in Italian, and anyone who has seen Broccoli will immediately understand why it is called so.
The first detailed descriptions of Broccoli are found in manuscripts from the late 16th century, at the same time that the crop arrived in England, where it was introduced as Italian asparagus. Almost simultaneously, Broccoli also reached the American continent, where it did not cause the same sensation as it did at first in England, and it was not until nearly four centuries later that Broccoli was remembered in the United States, the country that became the largest exporter of Broccoli to other countries.
At present, in addition to the United States, Broccoli is actively grown in India, China, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Israel, and Russia.
Broccoli looks a lot like Cauliflower, but the flowers are green instead of cream-colored. In its first year, Broccoli stems reach a height of about 27-30inch (70-80cm) and form many fleshy type flower stems at their top. These stems are topped by dense green flower buds that cluster around a loose, medium-sized flower head.
It is this head that is cut off before the flowers are formed and it is ready to eat. If the flowers are harvested too late and the buds turn yellow, it is almost impossible to eat Broccoli.
After the head of Broccoli is cut, new buds begin to form from the side shoots, and it may take several months for the cabbage to be harvested.
The demand for Broccoli has been increasing around the world, with average figures for different countries, with yields of a fraction of a percent compared to traditional cabbage.
In addition to growing Broccoli from seed, in this article, we will show you how to grow Broccoli from seedlings locally, how to care for it properly, how to harvest it, and what varieties to look out for.
GROWING BROCCOLI IN SEEDLINGS
When to start sowing Broccoli seeds?
As a rule, the sowing of Broccoli seedlings is carried out at the beginning of March and lasts until the middle of the month. Regarding the varieties, then the climatic characteristics of your region must be taken into account when choosing them. For example, in northern regions, where summers are short and quite cool, you should not consider planting late-maturing varieties and you should focus on early and medium-early maturing varieties.
To avoid future surprises, try to buy Broccoli seeds only from specialized seed stores and always take the freshest ones.
How to prepare the seeds?
After purchase, sort the seeds, select the largest of them and soak them in water heated to 122°F (50°C) for about a quarter of an hour. Next, soak the Broccoli seeds in cold water at about 50°F (10°C) so that you can “wake them up”.
All that remains is to soak the Broccoli seeds in a solution of any growth promoter to speed up their germination. Soak Broccoli seeds in a growth promoter solution for 7-8 hours, then rinse them under running water, leave them on the refrigerator door for a day, and dry them on a dry cloth until they are loose.
Sowing Broccoli seeds
Seeds can be sown in any container with a rim height of about 10inch (25 cm). A drainage layer, expanded clay, pebbles, 0.4inch (1cm) thick should be placed at the bottom of the tray and then filled with nutrient soil (a mixture of sod soil, river sand, wood ash, and humus in equal proportions). The soil should always be loose, permeable, and breathable.
Once the container is filled with soil, it is necessary to water it with a sprayer, preferably with rainwater, and then to make trenches, slightly more than 0.4inch (1 cm) deep and 1.2inch (3 cm) between them. Once the trench is prepared, you can sow Broccoli seeds and cover them with soil, slightly compacted.
Next, it is important to monitor the temperature of the room where the Broccoli shoots are planted. The temperature should be 66-68°F (19-20°C) before germination and should drop to 48-51°F (9-11°C) just after the buds appear on the soil surface for about 7-8 days, then adjust the temperature depending on the time of day.
Thus, it should be kept at 59-62°F (15-17°C) during the day in clear weather and 53-55°F (12-13°C) on cloudy days. At night, the indoor temperature should be maintained at 46-50°F (8-10°C), regardless of the weather outside.
The humidity inside should be kept at 80-85% and the soil should also be kept as moist as possible, but do not over-water as black legs may appear and can damage the seedlings.
Germinating Broccoli shoots are usually done when the seedlings reach 14-15 days old. As a container for picking, it is as convenient as possible to use peat pots from which further transplanting is not necessary; they dissolve in the soil and serve as additional food for the seedlings during the initial stage. Be careful when picking Broccoli seedlings and try not to damage the roots.
The initial cups should be filled with the same mixture you prepared for sowing, watered with a sprayer, and made hollow. Then, using a small stick, like the one on ice cream, you need to carefully pick the seedlings from the box, place them in the well of the cup, compact the soil and water again with the sprayer.
Until the Broccoli buds become strong, they need to be protected from direct sunlight by shading. At the same time, you need to raise the temperature of the room to 68-71°F (20-22°C).
After two or three days, when Broccoli seedlings are rooted and sprouted, you can make fertilizer by making a solution of nitroaminophos. To do this, you should dissolve a tablespoon of compound fertilizer in a bucket of water, and you can pour 50 grams of the solution into each cup.
After applying the fertilizer, the temperature should be lowered again and adjusted according to the time of day. The temperature should be kept at 60-64°F (16-18°C) during the day and lowered to 46-50°F (8-10°C) at night.
Two weeks before planting in the ground, Broccoli buds can begin to harden, bringing them to the balcony or log cabin for 2-3 hours at first, a few days later, then 8-10 hours, a few days later, then try to release the buds early in the morning, taking them away late at night, and finally leaving them overnight for 2-3 days before planting.
More related information about growing Broccoli plants
GROWING BROCCOLI SPROUTS IN A VACANT LOT
When should I plant Broccoli sprouts in the ground?
Broccoli sprouts are usually planted in the ground after 40-50 days and no more. By this time, the seedlings should have five or six true leaves, which is a signal that it is time to plant.
This period is usually in mid to late May, but if this period is cold and the soil is not hot enough, the planting period for Broccoli buds can be shifted.
Plant Broccoli buds in an open and well-lit area, preferably on the north side out of the cold wind. Try to choose beds that grew before the hybrid crop; carrots, onions, any grains, beans, and potatoes are the best predecessors. Broccoli’s bad predecessors are beets, turnips, tomatoes, radishes, and turnips; if these have been grown here before, Broccoli can only be grown here four seasons later.
The best soil for Broccoli is a neutral or slightly alkaline soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Preparing the soil for planting seedlings should begin in the fall, but can also be done in the spring, at least a week before planting. Digging the soil under the full bayonet of the shovel should be combined with maximum weed removal, and it is necessary to make well-decomposed manure or compost at 6.6 Lb per 11 sq. ft. If the soil is acidic, add lime – 200 grams per 11 square feet.
How to grow Broccoli shoots outdoors?
Broccoli buds should be planted in the early morning, preferably in cloudy weather. The best planting scheme is 14inch (35cm) to 20-22inch (50-55cm). Planting is done in a well, which should be dug a day or two before planting and watered with 0.13 Gal (0.5 l) of water before planting.
In the well, in addition to water, add 6-7 g of nitroaminophos, carefully mixed with fertilizer to moisten the soil, then you need to put the seedlings in peat cups into the holes, or with a bare root system, cover the soil, compact it and water again (250-300 g per plant).
Next, it is important to keep an eye on the weather: if frost is expected, you should cover the seedlings with a glass jar or a plastic bottle cut in half. Be aware that Broccoli buds can die even with two degrees of frost.
CARING FOR BROCCOLI
Broccoli care includes, loosening the soil, not allowing slabs to form; weeding, not allowing weeds to compete; watering, and fertilizing. Soaking is also required two weeks after planting the seedlings and should be repeated a week later. Weeding can be combined with loosening the soil.
Don’t forget that on particularly hot days, freshly planted Broccoli shoots may be damaged by bright sunlight, so shade them at midday for about 3-4 days. On very hot and dry days, in addition to strict mandatory watering, you should sprinkle air around the plants; the more often you do this, the higher the yield and quality will be.
When loosening the soil, do not submerge the tool more than 3inch (8cm), as this can damage the roots. Loosening is best done the day after a watering or heavy rain.
Speaking of watering: Broccoli is usually watered once every 6-7 days, but if there is a drought and the temperature is above 75-79°F (24-26°C), then it can be watered more often. When watering, try to keep the soil moist rather than turning it into a swamp. Don’t forget to spray too, sometimes they are even more useful than watering, for example in areas with dense, clayey soil.
Naturally, if you want to have a good crop, then nutrients should always be included. broccoli can be fertilized with as much fertilizer as possible. The first time you fertilize Broccoli (not counting the buds and fertilizer in the well at planting time either), you can do so within 12-14 days of planting. At this point, the plant needs more organic fertilizer.
You can give Broccoli a solution of cowpea water with about 250 grams of cowpea per bucket of water. To increase the nutritional value of the solution, you can add a teaspoon of any nitrogen fertilizer, such as urea. If cowpea manure is not available, you can use chicken manure, but it must be dissolved at a ratio of 1 to 20. The consumption rate of any of these solutions is about 0.25 Gal (1 liter) per 11 square feet.
The next feeding of Broccoli can be done 18-20 days after the first feeding. This time, it is more important to fertilize with nitrogen. It is best to use ammonium nitrate at the rate of one matchbox per bucket of water. The consumption rate is the same 0.25 Gal (1 liter) per 11 square feet of soil.
The third application can be made near the end of summer when it is most important for Broccoli cabbage to be fertilized with potassium and phosphorus. It is necessary to dilute 30-35 grams of calcium superphosphate and 9-11 grams of potassium sulfate in a bucket of water and water the soil, spending 0.4 Gal (1.5 liters) per 11 square feet.
Once the first wave of harvest has begun and the center head has been removed, it is necessary to fertilize Broccoli again to stimulate the regrowth of the lateral shoots. To do this, dissolve a tablespoon of nitroglycerin in a bucket of water and pour 0.25 Gal (1 liter) of the solution under each shrub.
After a week of this fertilizer you can make 150-200 g of wood ash under the plants, it is a good potassium fertilizer. The ash should be sprinkled on the soil previously loosened and watered to improve efficiency.
HOW TO HARVEST BROCCOLI?
We have already talked a little about harvesting: you need to know that you should harvest Broccoli cabbage before its flowers open. This moment is easy to miss, so you need to watch the cabbage more carefully.
There are many signs that you can get an idea that the cabbage is ready to be picked, such as the size of the head: a ready-to-harvest cabbage has a diameter of about 5-6inch (13-15 cm). Next is the color. Broccoli heads ready for harvest are usually dark green and the flower buds should be closed.
The buds should be collected as soon as they start to turn yellow, otherwise, it will be too late and the whole crop will be lost, which means poor taste and reduced nutritional value.
Broccoli buds should be harvested during the morning hours when they are in a bloated state. Also, it is best not to cut the heads off, but to cut straight through, using the sharpest and cleanest knife available.
In most cases, it takes 60-65 days from the time the seedlings appear on the soil surface until the first harvest, and Broccoli is usually not harvested until mid-September. The entire crop needs to be harvested before frost.