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; 175–280 seeds/g.
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 direct seeding. Subtract 20 days from date of transplanting.
Note: We cannot ship packets greater than ½ oz. (14 grams) of any Brassica into the Willamette Valley. The State of Oregon prohibits shipping any commercial quantity of untreated Brassica, Raphanus or Sinapis because of a quarantine to control Blackleg.
Culture: Hardy. Require warm temperatures to germinate (68-86° ideal) 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.
Young broccoli sproutlings make good microgreens.
- BR: Black Rot
- BS: Bacterial Speck
- DM: Downy Mildew
- FY: Fusarium Yellows
- TB: Tipburn
Pests & diseases: 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.
Materials: 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.
Materials: Spinosad, PyGanic, Mycotrol.
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 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, copper compounds may help for some of these diseases.