Brassica oleracea (Botrytis group)
Broccoli have thick, upright green stalks that hold heads of multiple clusters of tiny edible flower buds. They belong to the cabbage family.
Start seeds indoors 2 months before last frost date or 4 months before the first frost date if sowing seeds outdoors. Broccoli should be grown as a winter crop in warmer zones and planted in the fall for a spring harvest.
full sun (may need to provide shade during extreme heat spells).
well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 6.7 to 7.2
Sow plants to a depth of 1/2 inch with 18 to 24 inches between plants and approximately 36 inches between rows. Set transplants 2 to 3 inches deeper than grown in pots. One plant can produce up to 2 lbs. of edible heads and side shoots.
Keep soil evenly moist (not wet).
Seedlings should be thinned to 18 to 24 inches apart once they form two true leaves to prevent plants from producing small heads.
Harvesting & Storage:
Broccoli should be harvested before the flower buds open. Cut off the main heads with a sharp knife when they reach 3 to 4 inches across. Cut the stems at an angle so water will run off the stems instead of collecting and causing stem rot. After removing the main head, smaller heads will sprout and should be cut when they are green. Soak heads in salt water for 30 minutes before cooking or storing to drive out any hidden cabbage worms lurking in the heads. Store broccoli wrapped for 1 week in the refrigerator.
Diseases and Pests:
All members of the cabbage family are subject to a variety of diseases. The best defense is crop rotation and good cultivation practices.
Tips to Success:
Start spring crops indoors to protect them from temperature fluctuations and developing premature flower heads or "buttons."
By Ellen Brown