Broccoli may be a perennial garden favorite, and no wonder: it’s fairly easy for the house gardener to grow, are often planted in either the spring or fall, has multiple harvesting times, a healthy dose of vitamin A and D, and maybe a versatile food for the house cook. With just a couple of recommendations on the way to grow broccoli, you’ll be enjoying your own this spring.
BROCCOLI GROWING REQUIREMENTS
Broccoli may be a part of the cabbage family and maybe a cool-season crop that prefers temperatures within the ’60s for optimal growth and production. thanks to the cool weather requirements they ought to be planted in either spring or fall when the temperatures and soil are cooler. Broccoli may be a heavy feeder and performs best in fertile, well-drained, moist soil. Adding organic matter can help improve the standard of the soil, as can nitrogen. Apply fertilizer when transplanting and again a fortnight later. The soil should be consistently moist, but not wet.
Applying a top layer of mulch will help keep the bottom moist and cooler. Like most vegetables, broccoli requires a minimum of 6 hours of sun each day to supply the simplest crop. For those that want to reap broccoli all summer long, there are new heat-tolerant sorts of broccoli that perform far better within the summer heat than the normal varieties. Two heat-tolerant varieties to undertake are Green Goliath and Green Comet.
WHEN TO PLANT BROCCOLI
Broccoli is most successful if planted within the garden as a seedling transplant rather than by direct seed. Broccoli is extremely hardy and may be planted within the garden before many other vegetables, sometimes up to 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. to seek out state-by-state last frost dates go to: http://usagardener.com/breaking_ground/frost_dates_usa.php.
If you opt to start out your own seedlings indoors you ought to begin about 6-8 weeks before you expect to plant them in your garden. confirm the transplants are sturdy before planting them within the garden. once you put them in, place them slightly deeper than they were grown for better support. you’ll also want to make certain to acclimate them first to stop transplant shock. Take your seedlings outside for a few hours the primary day and gradually increase the length of your time. After a couple of days, you’ll plant them in your garden.
If you directly sow seeds, plant them about ¼ to ½ inches deep. As your plants grow you ought to thin the seedlings to stay them about 18-24 inches aside from one another. make certain to go away enough room between rows in order that you’ll properly water, weed, fertilize and harvest your crop; 36 inches is typically sufficient.
PROBLEM PESTS AND INSECTS FOR BROCCOLI
Broccoli is often very vulnerable to certain pests. Two of the foremost common pests are cabbage loopers and aphids.
Cabbage loopers can cause extensive damage to broccoli plants. Cabbage looper moths overwinter in cocoons and typically begin to get eggs on plants in May. These eggs hatch in 3-4 days as caterpillar larva and start feeding on plants like broccoli for 2-3 weeks. The caterpillar’s damage plants by chewing large holes in their leaves. Large numbers of caterpillars can ruin entire plants. After feeding on plants, the caterpillars pupate during a cocoon on the under- leaves of plants for two weeks. this will begin an entirely new cycle of cabbage loopers.
The least costly and easiest method to urge obviate cabbage loopers is to physically pick them off the plants. Once you identify the Cabbage looper caterpillar they’re easy to identify and may be physically far away from the plant. Plants also can be covered with thin netting to stay caterpillars cornered. As a final resort, commercial insecticides are often used.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouthparts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out plant fluids. There are actually many aphid species. They often hang around on the underside of plant leaves. Damage caused by aphids appears as curled, misshapen or yellow leaves. If you simply have a couple of cabbage leaves that are infected with aphids, you’ll simply pick those leaves off and eliminate them.
Another popular, natural method of removing Aphids is with a robust spray of water that literally knocks them off the plant. If you discover these methods unsuccessful you’ll try an insecticidal soap. This soap must be thoroughly applied to all or any areas of the plant. you’ll probably get to use multiple applications of this because it only kills the aphids that are present and active on the day it’s used.
MATURITY, HARVESTING, AND STORAGE OF BROCCOLI
It takes broccoli about 85-90 days to make its first head. you’ll harvest your broccoli when the middle head is fully developed, but before it begins to separate and flower. If the broccoli has already begun to open and flower (the flowers are bright yellow) it’s past maturity. Cut the massive center head alongside about 5-6 inches of stem. After you harvest the primary head, many sorts will produce secondary shoots with smaller heads for several weeks.
Broccoli should be kept in your refrigerator during a bag that has adequate air circulation. you ought to consume the broccoli within about 3-4 days. don’t store broccoli at temperature because it takes on an undesirable woody texture. you ought to not wash your broccoli before storing it within the refrigerator; it’ll quickly become moldy. you’ll wash it just before eating it.
Broccoli may be a very versatile vegetable and may be enjoyed in salads and with dips, cooked or steamed in water, added to stir-fry, casseroles and soups (think Broccoli and cheese!), or just raw as a healthy snack.