Guide to Growing Broccoli

Guide to Growing Broccoli

Broccoli –  Brassica oleracea botrytis

These can very well be described as winter cauliflower and in fact they are now officially classified under the latter title. Most varieties of heading broccoli fold their leaves over the curds thus helping to protect them. Summer cauliflower leaves tend to grow upright.

Broccoli grows on many types of soil so long as it is fertile. An open, but not exposed position is needed, and one not likely to become a frost pocket. Freshly manured ground is not required. It is wise to plant broccoli after early potatoes, beans, peas or lettuce, and lime is required, otherwise disorders including whiptail may arise. A dusting of superphosphate and sulphate of potash worked into the seed bed provides the phosphates young broccoli need. Avoid fertilisers rich in nitrogen, for these encourage quick growth, easily damaged by frosts.

guide to growing brocolli Bring the seed bed to a fine tilth, for this leads to even germination. Lumpy soil gives cover to flea-beetles. Sowing time is in spring onwards according to soil, weather and variety.

Make the drills 12 mm deep and 20 to 30cm apart. Sow thinly and lightly firm the soil after covering the seed.

Keep the bed weed-free by frequent light hoeings or hand pullings. Ground reserved for broccoli should be well cultivated making the surface firm but not hard. Do not leave the plants in the seed bed too long or they will become thin and lanky, and never produce good heads.

Discard coarse, poorly shaped, badly coloured plants and any without growing points. Ideal seedlings have short sturdy stems, plenty of fibrous roots and four or five good coloured leaves.

During dry weather water the seed bed before seedlings are lifted. If it becomes necessary to plant during dry periods, water the seedlings in. The old practice was to ‘puddle’ the plants. It consists of mixing soil, cow dung and water in a bucket and putting the roots in it. This mixture clings to the roots and supplies moisture for some time. Puddled-in roots seem more susceptible to club root disorder.

Do not plant broccoli too closely. Smaller  growing sorts should be placed 45cm apart with 60cm between rows, but most varieties need to be 60cm apart with 67 to 75cm from row to row. Close spacing prevents plants from developing fully and makes it easy for disease to gain a hold. Plant firmly and keep the hoe moving, particularly until the plants are established. Draw the soil towards the plant stems for this anchors the plants more firmly, giving protection and preventing moisture settling round the stems.

Cut the heads as they mature. Left too long they continue to grow and the good tight head of curds will open out and become ‘ricey’. Early morning sun can damage the curds. To prevent this, heel over the plants in November so that the heads face the north. This is done by taking some soil away from the north side of the plants and pulling them over, then place the soil on the opposite side from where it was taken, making it nicely firm.

Should heads mature faster than needed, they can be kept back by bending a leaf or two over the centre of the plants, which also gives protection from frost. If the entire plant is  pulled up and hung in a dry airy place the curds will remain in a good condition for seven to fourteen days.

Varieties. Autumn and winter use: Veitch’s Self Protecting. Snow’s Superb Winter White. St. Agnes. For spring use: Knight’s Protecting. Leamington. Markanta. Armado May. For summer use: Royal Oak. Asmer Juno. Asmer Midsummer.

03. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Vegetable Gardening | Tags: | Comments Off on Guide to Growing Broccoli

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