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|Seed Depth||Seed Spacing||Soil Temp for Germ.||Days to Germ.||Thin Plants To||Approximately 125-175 seeds per 1/2 gram.|
Brassica oleracea, Botrytis Group Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins C, K, and B-complex, along with a treasure trove of minerals. Although one cup of milk has more calcium than a cup of broccoli, the human body absorbs the calcium from broccoli more effectively than from milk. From your body's perspective, broccoli is said to be richer in calcium than milk!
CULTURE: When compared with the rest of the cole crops, broccoli is generally the most vigorous and trouble free to grow. However, early plantings are essential because it lacks tolerance to extreme heat. Generally cole crops are tolerant of acidic soils. Maintaining a pH of 6.0-6.8 will make the best use of the available nutrients.
FOR TRANSPLANTS: Start broccoli indoors or in the greenhouse about the first of February for transplanting in mid-March. Sow the seed in a sterile seedling mix in individual pots. Keep the seedlings moist, and provide adequate nutrition. Harden off seedlings in a cold frame prior to transplanting. Set the seedlings in rows 18-36 inches apart. Side-dress with 1/2 cup blood meal or composted chicken manure. Young seedlings may be covered with a cloche or row cover such as Gro-Therm or Reemay. Be watchful for early hot spells, because covers can create too much heat if left unchecked.
TO DIRECT SOW: Broccoli can be directly seeded from April through June. Sow the seed in rows 18-36 inches apart. Cover the seed with loose soil or sifted compost. Keep the seedbed uniformly moist as rough heads or leaves in the head are usually from heat-stressed seedlings. Thin plants and work in 1/4-1/2 cup of our complete fertilizer or equivalent around the base of each plant.
INSECTS: See Brassica Insect Information below.
DISEASE: The home gardener can help prevent viral and fungal broccoli diseases by practicing long crop rotations, using sterile starting mixes if transplanting, and practicing general sanitation procedures.
HARVEST: Before flower buds open, cut the central head at a 45° angle. Side shoots will form from the axillary buds and should be cut regularly to encourage production. Store at 40°F and 95% relative humidity.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 80%. Days to maturity are calculated from transplanting date; add 25-35 days if direct seeded. Usual seed life: 3 years.
Brassica Insect Information
Aphids: Control aphids with a hard spray of water, Hot Pepper Wax, Insect Killing Soap, or Pyrethrin. Also, select varieties that mature later in the season when aphid populations decline.
Cabbage worms, loopers, and root maggots: The first sign of cabbage worms will be white diamond-back moths fluttering near the plants. They lay their yellowish-colored eggs on the undersides of leaves, which hatch into caterpillars that can cause severe root and head damage. To control light infestations, spray plants with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). For heavy infestations, bait cabbage worms by mixing wheat bran into a BT solution. Add 1 tablespoon of molasses. Broadcast the bran mixture around the base of plants. Reapply as necessary. Using Reemay or Grow Guard 20 can also provide control.
Flea beetles: Flea beetles chew tiny pinholes in leaves. Early control is essential to minimize the damage. Spray young plants with Pyrethrin every 2 days. Using floating row covers such as Summer Insect Barrier can also provide control.
Symphylans: In some areas of the US, symphylans (also known as garden centipede) can severely retard the plant growth of cole crops. Only 1/4 inch long, white, and very active, they eat the root hairs of developing plants. Contact your local county extension agent if you suspect you have a problem.