Broccoli

Family: Brassicaceae

Countries: Italy, Mediterranean

Broccoli is a lovely vegetable to grow.  Advances in seed breeding have created a more versatile range of broccoli cultivars that can produce a harvest in autumn, or late winter, early spring, or summer, depending on the broccoli cultivar you choose to grow and the time that you sow your seeds.

Depending on the broccoli cultivar that you’re growing, seeds of this vegetable can be sown from March to July.  Choose a sunny or partially shaded site, with well drained, moisture retentive soil.  Given a choice, it’s best to grow broccoli in a soil with a pH6 -7, to lessen the risk of club root.  Good crop rotation can help to minimise the risk of this disease, which is started by spores within the soil that damage the broccoli plant’s root hairs, causing malformed, swollen roots and stems.  This damage has a drastic effect, affected plants often die and those that survive dwindle on producing little if any harvest.  Club root is more prevalent on intensely cultivated areas of ground, like allotments and vegetable patches.  Some cultivars are less susceptible to club root than others.  Broccoli seeds can be started off in containers and then planted out as older seedlings, when the broccoli plants may be stronger and more resistant to infection.

If you’re growing broccoli, or any brassicas for that matter, make sure that you cover your plants to protect them from the cabbage white butterflies, as these industrious butterflies will be eager to lay their eggs on your brassicas, where they will provide food for their caterpillars!

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