Broccoli is a particular species of brassica oleracea, called brassica oleracea var. Italic; they are cultivated by men for thousands of years, and their presence on the tables has already been confirmed since the times of the ancient Romans; broccoli, or broccoli, are biennial plants, which are grown however as annuals. They are of good size, and can reach 60-80 cm in height, with a width that can reach fifty centimeters. They produce a branched shrub, at the apex of whose branches ample corymbs are produced, which bring together tiny, very compact flowers; the corymbs are the part that is consumed. They have allugate leaves, not very leathery and thick, which often appear bluish in color, as they are covered with a thin layer of bloom. Broccoli is widespread in cultivation all over the world, much appreciated for its taste, but also for its great organoleptic properties. OCme mostly comes from the avoli, even the broccoli contains sulfur, whose typical smell is felt especially during cooking.
Just the presence of sulfur makes these vegetables difficult to appetite for children, although this substance does not give an intense or unpleasant taste to the vegetables themselves, which on the contrary have a very radiant and delicate taste.
Growing broccoli cabbage is a great choice for the amateur vegetable grower. It is in fact a plant that does not require great maintenance or even an extremely rich soil. At the same time, however, it is able to provide us with a tasty product suitable for many preparations as well as extremely healthy. By choosing some specific varieties, we can have a scaled and prolonged harvest: therefore it becomes a very convenient crop, even buying the seedlings at a retailer.
Broccoli in Italy is typically grown to be harvested during the autumn and winter months; in reality, since this vegetable has been cultivated for millennia, there are many varieties, each of which presents a different period of production of corymbs; so much so that in essence it is possible to have fresh broccoli always ready almost all year long. The broccoli produced in the garden is generally available, to be collected, from September-October, until March-April; some particularly early varieties may already be ready in August, while particularly late varieties may produce corymbs until May. When we buy seeds or broccoli seedlings, we ask more or less for the harvest of corymbs.
Broccoli can be sown in seedbeds, usually taking 30-40 days to sprout, and the first corymbs can be harvested after 3-4 months; therefore in general the early varieties are sown in May-June, while the late varieties are sown starting from July-August. In the nurseries and on the market benches we also find plants already ready, generally in the best period to put them in the garden in the area where we live. Before placing the plants, at least a couple of months before, the plot must be well worked, with the addition of mature manure, to enrich it with nitrogen.
Broccoli are planted in rows, spaced apart from each other, and between the rows, of at least 50-60 centimeters. Plants tend to grow so much, and so let's not be alarmed if the empty space between the tiny plants seems very much to us. Since the transplant in the garden happens in a warm period of the year, let's remember to water the young plants often, and with a good quantity of water; Interspersing the waterings for at least 2-3 days, we favor the development of a very deep root system, which does not risk being overly affected by climate changes.
Sow or buy plants?
The amateur grower can freely choose whether to buy seedlings at a nursery or to dedicate himself to sowing.
The first choice can be made by those who want to plant only a few plants or by those who want to anticipate the harvest. In fact, it is not always easy to obtain early germination at home, without being able to guarantee humidity and, above all, constant and suitable temperatures. Professionals can offer us specimens ready and grown optimally in their greenhouses.
We can instead choose to sow personally, especially if the plot we want to reserve for this crop is very broad. Taking the seed in first person we have more awareness and freedom in preferring particular productive and taste characteristics. Getting information from professionals in the area is always a good idea: the most common varieties on the market are those that usually give the most pedoclimatic conditions and results with less effort.
|Pugliese||From April to June||July August|
|Bronzino of Albenga, early Calabrese||June July||September October|
|Romanesco, Veronese, late Pugliese, late Calabrese||August to October||From December to March|
Crop and crop care
The watering continues regularly until the climate becomes cool; in autumn and winter, water dries only due to drought or particularly dry soil. Periodically it is good to sarchiar the soil between the plates, in order to remove all the weeds. As soon as the broccoli plants have produced the first corymb, at the apex of the rpingipal stem, cimiamolo, so as to favor the development of corymbs also on the lateral branches.
The development and collection of broccoli corymbs take place over a few months, and to climb; therefore we will have fresh broccoli for several weeks, without the need to collect them all together. After having collected all the edible corymbs, it is advisable to uproot the plants, remembering that it is salable to cultivate other brassicas in the same plot for at least 3-4 years, to prevent pests or diseases that winter in the ground can quickly find new prey.
Sowing in alveolar trays
The period in which to start is closely related to the specific variety. It is therefore necessary to read carefully the indications on the sachet. Indicatively we can say that in the North it is sown between June and July, in the Center-South instead it starts from June to arrive until October.
Alveolar containers of all sizes are easily found on the market, especially in agricultural consortia.
We choose those with alveolus of at least 3 cm in diameter and at least as deep. Then fill them with a special compost for sowing, without overly compressing. In each container we place two seeds at a distance of two cm and cover with 3-4 mm of soil or agricultural vermiculite. The latter is ideal for obtaining fast germination due to its ability to retain moisture, but at the same time it is very light as it does not act as an obstacle to the leakage of the plant.
The best temperature for germination is around 25 ° C. In these conditions the first leaves will be seen after about a week. It is very important to always keep the humidity high, often spraying the surface and / or covering with a plastic film. In the latter case, however, it will be necessary to remember to aerate often so that no mold is formed. When the first leaves are visible, we will remove any cover and begin to irrigate normally, wetting only the soil. After about a week from germination we will take care of thinning out the seedlings, leaving only one of them for the most vigorous one. At about 30-40 days they will be ready for transfer to the open field.
The soil is processed before inserting the plants. You will need to dig the area at least up to 40 cm deep. The cultivation of broccoli generally follows that of other very demanding vegetables. The manure previously incorporated is usually sufficient to bring this crop to an end, in addition to making the soil softer and more draining. However, if we still notice a certain compactness we can choose to create high bumps from 15 to 30 cm, on top of which we then insert our plants. In this way the water draining will be favored and we will not run into rot or radical pathologies.
To plant the seedlings you need to extract them from the tray by inserting a pencil into the drain hole or giving a sharp stroke on the edge. A little hole will then be made in the earth, adapted to the root system, using a shovel or a bulb plant. Insert it and compact the surrounding area well.
The distance between the plants depends on the variety. The highly developed cultivars, such as the Romanesco, take about 70 cm between the rows and 50 on the rows. The other types are satisfied with 50-60 between the rows and 43-40 between one specimen and another.
The transplant is carried out in the North from June until August, depending on the type. In the Center-South, it is also possible to continue until the beginning of November.
As we have said, it is generally not necessary to incorporate manure when preparing the soil. However, it may be useful to add a product with a high content of phosphorus and potassium: an excellent idea is, for example, to spread a few handfuls of wood ash or a synthetic product such as potassium sulphate in the area.
To encourage vegetative growth, once the crop is in place, it is good, every two weeks, to distribute about 30 g / m2 of ammonium nitrate (or other fertilizer with a high nitrogen content). We suspend about a month before harvest to avoid nitrate accumulation in the inflorescence. These, in fact, were very harmful to health and it is therefore advisable to limit their contribution to the final stages of growth. Even more attention must be paid in the case of cultivating a leaf variety, where the accumulation is more relevant.
The irrigations must be light, but constant. The soil, therefore, must always be moist, but it is absolutely necessary to avoid stagnant water which could cause rot to the root apparatus and to the collar.
Sprinkler irrigation is possible, but it is advisable to create grooves on the side of the crop where the water can flow. In this way the liquid will come directly to the roots without compromising either the leaves or the foot.
To make maintenance even easier, we can already prepare an irrigation system during the preparation of the soil: both the dripping wings and the porous tubes are excellent.
In any case, the best hours for this operation are the morning hours or, alternatively, the evening, always avoiding working with the sun still high and the warm earth. This could be a cause of harmful thermal shocks to root complications.
Pests and adversities
Broccoli, like all brassicaceae, is quite often affected by rot, cryptogams and animal parasites. To prevent them it is very important to follow all the good cultivation techniques and to avoid growing plants belonging to the same family in the same land before four years.
Prevention / Remedies
|Lepidoptera larvae (eg Pieris sp.)||Pyrethrins and pyrethroids, b. thuringiensis, spinosad|
|Highlights of the crucifers||Pyrethrins and pyrethroids|
|punches||Pyrethrins and pyrethroids|
|Cabbage fly||Pyrethrins and pyrethroids|
|Xanthomonas sp. - Erwinia carotovora (virosis)||Copper to contain the spread|
|Alternariosi||Use sterilized soil / spray iprodione|
|micosferella||Avoid specific humidity / products|
|Cabbage hernia||Adjust the irrigations, avoid excesses of potassium and calcium|
|Stem cancer||Soil sterilization / iprodione spray|