Broccoli


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General

Although you can buy broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Italica) around the year, you can still grow your own, because unlike your close relative - the cauliflower - the buds harvested shortly before flowering can not be stored for long. The florets soften quickly and in addition to a large part of the vitamins contained also lose the firm bite. Another reason for cultivating your own garden: Broccoli grows much faster and requires less care than cauliflower.

The broccoli is like the cauliflower to the family of cruciferous vegetables (Cruciferae). Originally from Asia Minor, it has been cultivated in Europe since the 16th century, especially in Italy and France. Unlike cauliflower, broccoli does not develop a closed inflorescence, but large leaves that sit on long, fleshy stems, and green or purple flower buds in loose heads. Broccoli is a relatively uncomplicated cabbage that can be harvested almost year-round. This is because his stem axis after the cut replicates new side shoots with flower buds.
For hobby gardeners, especially two types are interesting: The summer and Herbstbrokkoli originating from Italy as well as the grown in England, particularly cold-resistant varieties, the so-called winter broccoli. With skillful choice of variety, you can therefore harvest in your own garden around the year. The latter is winter hardy only in mild winters.

Location and ground

Broccoli thrives best on deep, nutrient-rich soils with good water retention on a sunny spot in the vegetable patch. Since broccoli prefers a higher lime content, similar to cauliflower, the soil should be supplied with algal lime in autumn.

Sowing and planting

If you prefer broccoli from seeds, you need a little patience, because from sowing to plantable seedling pass at least 30 days. Early varieties can be preferred from January to March in seed boxes with humus-rich seed soil. The ideal germination temperature is 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. Tip: If you like many cabbage plants, use space-saving multi-pot plasters. After germination, the seedlings should be pikiert in five-centimeter large pots. As soon as the seedlings root well through the soil and have formed three to five leaves, they can move out under fleece from April onwards. Plant them so deeply that the roots are covered with soil by about one centimeter. The planting distance is 40 to 50 centimeters.
From May you can also sow directly in the bed. Sow three seeds per planting hole and leave only the strongest seedling after germination. The planting date for the winter broccoli is in August / September. He is ready for harvest in April / May. A generous composting (three to five liters per square meter) during the bed preparation ensures a good start. Algae lime (about 30 grams per square meter) meets the high demand for calcium and supplies important trace elements such as magnesium.

Broccoli flower

Some varieties of broccoli form purple flower buds

Crop rotation and mixed culture

Like all cabbages, broccoli thrives in a diverse mixed culture. Beans, dill, beetroot and endive salad, as well as chard, leek, celery, radishes or radishes are also suitable as bed-mixes.

maintenance

Broccoli requires regular water and nutrients. After planting it is important to water the cabbage vegetables well. In the following two to three weeks should be watered sparingly, then again generous. They should also hack frequently and regularly plant the plants. To ensure that the nutrient-hungry cabbage develops well and forms many lateral shoots, a liquid vegetable fertilizer or stinging nettle is administered about six weeks after planting or before budding begins. This prevents growth increases.
An exception is the winter broccoli. Since it is supposed to grow slowly, you should rather supply it sparingly with horn shavings or organic vegetable fertilizer. A second fertilization is therefore to postpone the spring, because in the autumn administered nutrients affect the frost hardiness.

Harvest and recovery

After about seven weeks, the broccoli is ready for harvest, but in the autumn planted varieties need at least ten weeks. With winter broccoli it takes almost half a year to harvest, but you can cut shoots from March to May. The correct harvest time you recognize that the individual flower buds are indeed pronounced, but still very tightly closed. If the flower already loosens and shows a yellow shimmer, the buds taste unpleasantly charred. Cut the still closed inflorescences with a sharp knife. Even the thinner side shoots can be recycled. After cutting the middle button, thinner side shoots grow again.
In addition to the florets, the stems can be mitgegart. The stalk can be peeled with a peeler and also eaten. After harvesting, you should use broccoli as soon as possible or refrigerate for two to three days at the most. You can also freeze your broccoli. Then you should blanch it first.

Harvest broccoli

Broccoli can be harvested several times. The stalk is also edible

sorts

Traditional varieties form new side shoots three to four weeks after harvesting the middle bud. These include 'Calabrese', 'Penta' or 'Summer Purple'. Professional varieties are only suitable for a one-time cut and hardly develop side shoots, such as 'Parthenon'. A beautiful red-purple flower has 'Santee' and 'Rosalind'. The robust 'Coastal' organic variety is suitable for both early spring and autumn crops. The winter broccoli variety 'White Sprouting' can be sown until the beginning of September and wintered under a protective fleece at temperatures up to minus 8 degrees Celsius on the bed.

Diseases and pests

The larvae of the Kohldreherherzm├╝cke destroy the Mittelknops and cause stunted growth, since their saliva contains growth-inhibiting substances. Remedy a close-knit vegetable net as well as the cultivation in wind-open situations. The vegetable net also prevents damage by aphids and cabbages. A mixed culture with nasturtium (non-creeping varieties!) Can prevent infestation with the caterpillars of the cabbage white. A cultivation break in the same bed of at least four years to all cabbages can prevent root diseases such as the cabbage hernia. Tip: Already during planting, add a portion of algae lime directly into the planting hole, this also serves as a preventative measure.

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