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Growing Broccoli With
Sweet,Tender Heads

Photo of Growing Broccoli Heading broccoli close to harvest

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Growing Broccoli

Broccoli is a member of the very large Brassica family with four different types that can be grown in the home vegetable garden.

Heading Broccoli

This is the type most frequently available in supermarkets and when growing broccoli in the home garden. It has a single large domed head that is composed of numerous clustered florets, 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) diameter.

Photo of growing broccoli head

Photo Right - This type is usually green in color and arranged in a tree like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk.
Mouse over image to enlarge.

Photo of smaller side heads of growing broccoli

Photo Right - Many varieties of this type will yield over an extended period by developing small side heads, 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) in diameter after the central head has been harvested.
Mouse over image to enlarge.

Sprouting Broccoli

This type grows into bushier plants than heading types and often do not produce a main central head that is much to speak of, but rather grow numerous small heads composed of numerous clustered florets on thin stalks similar to heading broccoli.

Photo of smaller head of the sprouting broccoli

Photo Right - Sprouting broccoli heads are not as large as the heading type but there are a lots more of them and they usually produce over an extended period.
Mouse over image to enlarge.

Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco Broccoli is in the Botrytis (cauliflower) cultivar group but is classified as a broccoli. When growing broccoli of this type you will need plenty of space. The mature romanesco Broccoli plant can grow to about 3 feet (1 M) tall and the same in width with thin spear shaped leaves. The head has a very distinctive appearance. It is shaped similar to cauliflower but composed of numerous elegant, symmetrically pointed swirling peaks in shades of yellow and apple green. This broccoli type seldom produces side shoots.

Broccoli Rabe, Raap, Raab or Rapini

like sprouting broccoli it doesn’t have a central head. It is grown for both its small immature flower buds, which are similar in appearance to those of regular broccoli, and its leaves. This type of broccoli has a strong flavor and is closely related to turnips.

Quick Reference Guide

Veggie Garden Dairy
Vegetable Broccoli
Also Known As
Botanical Family - Brassicaceae, Species - Brassica oleracea , Cultivar group - Italica Group
Plant Type Cool season annual - flowering vegetable
Frost Tolerance Semi Hardy
Planting Position Sunny position but welcomes shade in the hottest part of the season - requiring a minimum of 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Seed Viability 3 years
Germination 5-7 days at 50-80 F (10-27 C)
Growing Temp 55-75 F (13-24 C)
Seed to Transplant 5 - 7 weeks
Planting Method Direct sow or Seedling transplants
When to Plant Spring and again in mid-summer for fall-winter harvest
Time to Plant As early as 1 - 2 weeks before the average date of the last 32 F (0 C) freeze in the spring in your area but not before soil temperatures are consistently above 50 F (10C)
Seed Sowing Direct sowing broccoli seeds - 1/2 inch (12 mm) deep - 4 inches (10 cm) apart in rows 24-30 inches (60-75 cm) apart
Plant Spacing Transplant or thin seedlings 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart in rows 24-30 inches (60-75 cm) apart or for a grid, stagger plants 18 inches (45 cm) apart in each direction.
Soil Conditions Well drained - High organic matter - Rich fertility
Fertilizer High fertilizer needs, 5-6 quarts per 100 sq feet (5.5-6.6 liters per 9.3 square meters) pre-planting of all purpose organic fertilizer 5-5-5, same rate for each side dressing.
When to Fertilize 2 weeks before sowing or transplanting - when transplanting use liquid starter fertilizer - side-dress every 3-4 weeks - last side-dressing as the heads begin to show.
Days to Harvest 60-100 days - depending on conditions and variety.

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