- Author: Sally A Logan
By SALLY LOGAN (Master Gardener)
Broccoli: The Queen of Vegetables!
This is broccoli, in all its many flavors and considered by all to be one of, if not the most healthy vegetable of them all! Broccoli contains vitamins A, C and several of our necessary vitamins in smaller amounts. Plus, fiber that is so much in the news today for healthy metabolism and maintenance of body functions. Broccoli; how can I grow thee?
February into March has brought the small, ‘buttons' of the head of the brocolli that we planted in late December.
Broccoli is considered a winter vegetable. Which is to say, that in milder climates, can be grown through the winter and harvested before spring. Milder climates would include our local desert climates, where locals think that a winter temp reading of 40 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for our, now thin skin, but which would be heavenly for most Northern and Eastern geographies.
Broccoli floret or ‘button', after the rain!
The southern desert valleys in Riverside & Imperial counties are considered one of four areas in California for broccoli production and produces about 15% of the broccoli in California with Monterey County, taking the top producer spot with broccoli at 40% of the state's production. The Imperial Valley plants broccoli thru direct seeding, from the first part of September to beginning of December for harvest in December thru mid-March. Broccoli seed will germinate and grow in relatively cool temperatures, of 40-95 degrees with growth favoring conditions of 60-65 degrees, after the seedlings come up. Our over 95 degree summers of course, then cannot accommodate the needs of broccoli, and therefore the designation of winter vegetable.
We found many types of broccoli seeds, but more of the hybrid, Calabrese. Calabrese takes 75 to 140 days to harvest. Other types recommended for our southern deserts are; Castle Dome, Coronado Crown, Destiny, Emerald Crown, Expo, Green Magic and Sarasota or Tahoe.
Broccoli in the southern deserts & valleys is direct seeded and plants should be 5”-6” apart, so if you are direct seeding, then thinning will be necessary as the seedlings grow. Drip irrigation is not usually used, but sprinklers or furrows are used and broccoli does need adequate water, especially during the development of the head. Water use will be at the highest in the last month.
Add small amount of nitrogen to soil before planting, and this can be by organic composting or other organic means, such as blood meal or types of guano. Feeding with measured amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous about 2 weeks apart after seedlings appear will help to assure formation of the head.
Your broccoli harvest requires immediate refrigeration to preserve the firm heads and stalks. If not for immediate use, then very low temperatures of close to 32 degrees and high humidity will keep your broccoli for 21-28 days!
All hail the Queen!
*Broccoli Production in California; Publication 7211, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu