Broccoli is a hardy, fairly quick-maturing crop which belongs to the Cabbage family.
Broccoli prefers coolness and moisture. In the regions of the country where summer arrives early, it will be most successful if planted as a fall crop. However, certain gardeners contend that it thrives best as a two-season crop for both spring and fall.
In the latter case, seeds are sown in late winter, one-half inch deep in flats and placed in a warm, sunny window or greenhouse. Seedlings can be set out early in spring, as soon as the garden soil can be worked. Later, when most danger of severe frost has passed, more seeds are sown directly in the garden. When stalks are three or four inches tall, thin the plants or transplant them so that they stand 18 to 24 inches apart in the row.
The transplanted broccoli can be harvested throughout the spring and early summer.
Broccoli that is direct-seeded may mature during a cool, early autumn morning. Thus, with a little planning, you can grow fresh-picked garden broccoli throughout growing season.
Broccoli is not a greedy feeder. It does best in a moderately rich soil, provided soil is well drained and easy to work, thrives in soils ranging from sand and clay peat. It is a thirsty vegetable, though, requires plenty of moisture.
The plant form of broccoli consists of thick main stalk, at the end of which develop central cluster of tiny, dark green flower buds.
Stem, buds and leaves are edible, but the leaves are less tender than the stem and buds and usually discarded.
Some watchfulness is necessary to see that the greenish heads are harvested well before the flower buds expand and dry out. After the head has been cut the side shoots will continue to form smaller heads and provide a steady and heavy harvest over a considerate period. All heads should be cut off in such a manner that a fairly long stub of stem mains on the plant.
After the central head of broccoli has been cut for food, a number of small lateral roots will develop in the axils of the remaining leaves. These shoots also produce flower bum which are edible. The welcome harvest of this important, easy-to-grow vegetable will last for several weeks. From four to six cuttings stems and buds may be expected from the stalk.