Brassica oleracea (botrytis group) One of the most beautiful of plants when grown well. Chef Odessa Piper calls romanesco’s cone-shaped somewhat irregular whorl of chartreuse florets “broccoli on acid.”
Culture: Needs adequate spacing, a long season and extremely high soil fertility. We had fantastic results planting in raised beds with 8" of well-rotted manure. Well-grown plants are huge and need about 10 sq ft each. Should be started indoors in March or April and transplanted out in late May or June. Be patient; needs a long season but doesn’t mind cool weather.
Brassica oleracea (botrytis group) 2 g packet sows 45 ft. Average varies by cultivar from ~5,000-8,000 seeds/oz.
Culture: Start broccoli indoors March–May for setting out May–July, or direct-seed in May or June for fall crop. Easier as a fall crop because many varieties perform poorly in hot summers. For better stands in dry conditions sow in trenches and keep irrigated. Broccoli dislikes extreme temperature and moisture fluctuations of the kind we have endured in recent seasons. Climate change is making it a challenge to grow even the more heat-tolerant varieties in the summer, while at the same time lengthening and making more temperate our New England falls, broadening growers’ windows of opportunity.
Nutrition and disclaimer: Broccoli contains significant levels of sulforaphane, a substance that helps detoxify carcinogens from the body. Some years back, research indicating that broccoli seed sprouts are higher in sulforaphane than the vegetable itself caused a run on open-pollinated broccoli seeds. The broccoli seed we offer is not food grade and we cannot guarantee that it is fit for human consumption as sprouted seeds. We have no control over the conditions in which it is stored before it reaches us. Please contact your natural foods wholesaler or retailer for sprouting seed.
Culture: Hardy. Require warm temperatures to germinate, but need 60s during seedling stage for optimal growth; higher temperatures make seedlings leggy. Heavy feeders; for best growth, need regular moisture and 2–3' spacing. Have done well for us succeeding onions and garlic in beds. Cauliflower and broccoli are damaged by hard frosts, especially in spring. Days to maturity are from direct seeding. Subtract 20 days from date of transplanting.
Pests & diseases: See below for more details. Based on six years here in Woodchuck Heaven, broccoli and brussels sprouts seedlings are the preferred choice for groundhog gourmets. Young edamame is next, with beans, carrot and parsnip tops and sweet corn a distant third. Kaidog kept me groundhog-free for over a decade in Maine, but did not make the move here. Gene uses Havahart traps.
Note: We cannot ship brassica packets larger than 1/2 oz into the Willamette Valley because of a rule issued by Oregon.
- DM: Downy Mildew
- FY: Fusarium Yellows
Major pests: Cabbage Looper, Diamondback Moth, Imported Cabbageworm
Cultural controls: control cruciferous weeds near crop fields, till-under crop debris of early-season brassicas after harvest.
Materials (see OGS catalog
for these products): Spinosad (8922-4
), Bt (8902
Pest: Flea Beetle
Cultural controls: floating row covers (9101
), mulch with straw, time plantings for fall harvested crops only, crop rotation, perimeter trap cropping.
Materials: Spinosad (8922-4
), Pyganic (8925
), Mycotrol O (8898
Pest: Cabbage Root Maggot
Cultural controls: time planting to avoid first hatching, use row covers, control weeds.
Material: Nematodes (8941-3
Major diseases: Black Rot, Alternaria Leaf Spot, Blackleg, Club Root, Downy Milldew, White Mold
Cultural controls: avoid transplanting plants with yellow leaves or v-shaped lesions, crop rotation, destroy crop debris after harvest, avoid overhead irrigation, control weeds, allow for good air movement.
Materials: Actinovate (8851
), copper compounds (8861-3
) may help for some of these diseases.
Disease: Head Rot
Cultural controls: use well-domed varieties, harvest heads when tight, cut stalks at an angle.