Broccoli

How To Grow Broccoli:

Broccolie growing guide.  Grow broccoli in your vegetable garden.  Growing broccoli made easy.The broccoli plant is actually an evolved form of wild cabbage and is closely related to cauliflower. Early forms of broccoli were cultivated by the Italians and introduced across Europe by the Romans.  However, outside of Italy it was not widely grown.  It wasn’t introduced to England until the eighteenth century, and in the America’s broccoli did not become well known until the 1920’s. In fact, if you ask someone born in that era, they may describe broccoli as not a common vegetable, until just recently.

Broccoli is well known now and eaten often due to is high levels of antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins.  Broccoli also contains high levels of sulforaphane and other proteins believed to prevent cancer.

Planting and Growing Broccoli:

Fertilizing broccoli, watering broccoli, planing broccoliPrepare garden beds in the fall by tilling in well-composted, organic matter.  After, plant some organic fertilizer with high levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous to help it grow fast.  Broccoli takes on a better taste if grown quickly.

Sow the first group of broccoli indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date and transplant outdoors when plants are approximately 5” (12 cm) tall, and when at least two sets of true leaves appear.  When transplanting, burry the plant just below the first set of true leaves.  Be particularly careful not to disturb the roots as this will stunt or shock the plant, resulting in little-to-no head production.  Plant one to two plants every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest for fresh broccoli.  Plants should be spaced at least 16 inches (40 cm) apart.

You can begin sowing seeds directly outdoors 2 weeks before the last frost date.  Plants will mature 45-60 days after sowing and will tolerate some light frosts.  It is a great second crop candidate to be grown into the fall.   Simply plant 6 weeks before firs fall frost.

Broccoli needs moist soil, but not wet.  It is a high feeder so be sure to add fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks.  It also needs trace minerals such as boron.  Make sure to follow instruction when applying fertilizers and minerals in your garden.

Harvesting and Preserving Broccoli:

Harvest broccoli with a sharp knife or some garden clippers when the buds are still tight and the head is approximately 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) in diameter.  The first head you harvest will be the largest.  After you harvest the first head the plant will produce smaller side shoots.  Harvest the heads often before the buds open for higher yields and a sweeter taste.  If you allow the buds to open will most likely cause the plant to go to seed, known as bolting. If your plant bolts you may as well pull the plant as any new head production will be bitter and undesirable.  However, letting one plant to bolt will attract beneficial insects to your garden.

After harvesting the broccoli, wait until you are ready to use them before washing and storing in the refrigerator.  It is best to eat the broccoli fresh, right after harvesting because that is when it contains the most nutrients.  Freezing or steaming the broccoli will leach nutrients from the vegetable, and while it will still be healthy for you, it won’t be as nutritious.

There are a few different methods when preparing broccoli for freezing.  The standard method takes a little bit more time but it will store for up to 3 months, where the faster method will only store 6 weeks. Depending on how you plan to use the broccoli, choose the appropriate method.

To prepare using the standard method, first clean the broccoli by soaking it in a bath of salted water, or water with a bit of lemon juice or lemon oil.  Soak up to 30 minutes, then rinse and drain. Cut the broccoli into uniform pieces.  Place 1 pound (1/2 kilogram) of broccoli at a time in a basket with the largest pieces at the bottom and steam-blanch over boiling water, covered, for exactly 5 minutes. Cool broccoli and seal in a freezer bag making sure to press out all the air, then place in the freezer.

To prepare using the faster method, simply wash the same way and cut the broccoli into pieces, then place into freezer bags and freeze. Remember to use the broccoli within 6 weeks.

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