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: Should be started indoors in March or April and transplanted out in late May or June for fall harvest. 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. Be patient; needs a long season but doesn’t mind cool weather.
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 the extreme temperature and moisture fluctuations 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 broadening opportunities in our longer more temperate falls.
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 seed grade, and it is not fit for human consumption as sprouts. It is not stored in food-safe sanitary conditions before it reaches us. For sprouting seed, please contact your natural foods supplier.
Disease: Head Rot
Cultural controls: use well-domed varieties, harvest heads when tight, cut stalks at an angle.
Days to maturity are from seedling emergence. Subtract 20 days for transplants.
Note: because of a rule issued by Oregon, we cannot ship brassica packets larger than ½ oz. (14 grams) into the Willamette Valley, except those that have tested negative for Black Leg and Black Rot. Check descriptions for information.
Culture: Start brassicas indoors March-May for setting out May-July, or direct-seed in May, or in June for fall crop. Minimum germination soil temperature 40°, optimal range 55–85°. They need 60s during seedling stage for optimal growth; higher temperatures make seedlings leggy. Easier grown for the fall because many varieties perform poorly in hot summers. For better stands in dry conditions, sow in trenches and keep irrigated. Wire hoops and row cover should be used at early stages to keep out flea beetles and swede midge.
- BL: Blackleg
- BR: Black Rot
- BS: Bacterial Speck
- DM: Downy Mildew
- FW: Fusarium Wilt
- FY: Fusarium Yellows
- TB: Tipburn
- WR: White Rust
Pest and Disease Remedies for all Brassicas
Major pests: Cabbage Looper, Diamondback Moth, Imported Cabbageworm
Cultural controls: control cabbage-family weeds near crop fields, till under crop debris of early-season brassicas after harvest.
Material controls: Spinosad, Bt.
Pest: Flea Beetle
Cultural controls: floating row covers, mulch with straw, time plantings for fall harvested crops only, crop rotation, perimeter trap cropping.
Material controls: AzaMax, Spinosad, PyGanic.
Pest: Cabbage Root Maggot
Cultural controls: time planting to avoid first hatching, use row covers, control weeds.
Major diseases: Black Rot, Alternaria Leaf Spot, Blackleg, Club Root, Downy Mildew, 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.
Material controls: Copper.
Swede Midge—not as cute as it sounds!
Alert! Heading brassicas in the Northeast are seeing consistent damage from swede midge, a tiny gall midge. Its effects result in a non-heading plant. Wire hoops and row cover at early stages of heading brassica crops are becoming crucial for success. Some research also suggests garlic sprays as a possible organic repellent. Consult your Cooperative Extension resources for further information.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.