How to go about growing broccolini from seed to harvest. Yes, Broccolini and not Broccoli as you might have thought.
Broccolini is a treasure on gourmet dining tables because of its tender, sweeter, and milder stems, florets and larger edible leaves, compared to broccoli. As such, Broccolini gives you much more delicate, colorful, and tasty vegetable options.
Broccolini is the trademarked name given to a hybrid cross between, on one hand, the American and Euro-Italian conventional broccoli and on the other, the Chinese standard broccoli or Gai Lan. People also, mistakenly, tend to refer to broccolini as baby broccoli.
A plant from the brassica or mustard genus family, scientifically named “Brassica Oleracea Italica X Alboglabra” or “Brassica Olceracea Var. Botrytis X Brassica Oleracea Var. Alboglabra”, its botanical name infers “eaten as a vegetable.”
Lovable Broccolini Benefits and Uses
Rather than form one large head like broccoli, broccolini bears numerous small and tender shoots.
These shoots have a peppery overtone and a subtly sweet flavor. In addition, you need not peel its stems as you prepare it for the dining table.
Discerning consumers give broccolini high praise for its unique texture and taste. Others refer this temperature sensitive vegetable as simply an expensive and voguish food item.
To enjoy its distinctive flavor, eat it in its raw form. Other ways of enjoying its best form is through adding it to your soups, and stir-frying it alone, or with carrots, mushrooms, and pepper.
Read this Sauteed Broccolini recipe to prepare a lovely dish for your family.
You can also steam it, complement you favorite casserole with it or even chop it up into your calzone filling.
Equipment And Material Needed To Grow Broccolini
Certain pieces of equipment are essential if you wish to come up with a decent crop. The list needs to include a soil testing kit and a shovel.
Other items on the list that may depend on the nature of your soil, may include sulfur, peat moss, limestone, 20:20:20 liquid fertilizer, 8:16:16 fertilizer, and either broccolini seeds or seedlings.
Preparing Broccolini Growing Environment
You can grow your broccolini crop in your home garden using techniques similar to broccoli. Of note, however, is that transplanted broccolini seedlings tend to grow better compared to directly sown seeds. As such, your best option would be to sow broccolini seeds indoors a few weeks before you transplant them as seedlings to your grow bag or garden.
Additional resources: video from Edible gardening on planting and growing Broccolini
Broccolini is a cool weather crop that flourishes in foggy environments within moderate summer temperatures.
You need to plant your broccolini crop early in spring in an environment where frost will not be a risk.
This crop is sensitive to high temperatures and grows best when temperatures remain below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Should you live in an environment that does not have this kind of weather, you could put up a green house and create such an environment.
In addition, avoid growing a new crop on the same area each year.
To begin the preparation process, test the soil in your garden to determine that pH levels lie between 6.0 and 7.0.
Should you have clay soil, you need to add finely ground limestone. This way you will increase your soil pH to the required level.
Conversely, should your soil have alkaline traits, add sulfur or peat moss to neutralize it.
About two weeks prior to sowing, apply two to three pounds of 8:16:16 fertilizer for every one hundred square feet of your garden.
Ensure the fertilizer is worked thoroughly into the soil. Do this with a shovel or any other digging tool and then give the soil about two weeks to rest.
Planting A Broccoli Crop
With a stick or using your fingers, create between one-eighth and three-quarter-inch deep holes. The holes need to be between five and six inches apart. They should also be in rows twelve to fourteen inches apart.
Into each hole, place a broccolini seed before covering it lightly with soil. It is critical to note that since broccolini is a hybrid, you must avoid saving seeds for planting in the future.
Conversely, should you be planting seedlings rather than direct seeds, ensure your holes are twelve inches apart. In addition, ensure the holes are an inch deeper than the original depth into which the original seeds were planted.
You need to water your freshly planted seedbed regularly and thoroughly until the soil is moist to a depth of about six inches. Remember, it is moist, not soaked.
Wait until your directly sown seeds appear above ground and apply one cup of 20:20:20 liquid fertilizer per seedling. Make sure the fertilizer is diluted in respect of the package instructions.
Tending And Harvesting Your Broccolini Crop
Ensure that your crop gets at least two inches of water each week. Every fortnight, splash your crop with weakened fish emulsion or fertilizer tea to give it additional and essential nitrogen nutrients.
Gather your broccolini heads once the heads become full grown and prior to blooming.
Remember to cut long stems since the stem is just as wonderful as its florets on your dining table. Look for new heads to flame and leave behind some green leaves on the plant.
In any given year, a good crop will give you three to five sets of shoots per plant.
Broccolini Challenges, Pests, And Diseases
A whitefly or aphid attack curls your crop leaves, puckering them and turning them yellow. Spraying with organic insecticidal soap or introducing ladybugs deals with this menace.
Ragged holed leaves infer a cabbage worm or slug attack. Spraying with bacillus thuringiensis is a great remedy against the worms while snakes and birds will deal with the slugs.
Pinhole leaves indicate flea beetles on the rampage. Leaves chewed to the stem announce vegetable weevil attacks. Spaying with pyrethrum splash in the evening, to avoid harming pollinators, controls the beetle and weevil attack.
Leaves with yellow spots that become white mold during wet weather represent downy mildew. A Black leg attack results in black dots, dark patches on stems and leaves, and reddish and wilted bluish leaves. Sunken patches later girdle the stem and a plant then topples over.
On catching these maladies early, spray an organic fungicide, such as bacillus subtilis or copper. If the attack is too advanced, immediately remove and destroy affected plants. Do not compost such plants.
In comparison to broccoli, broccolini is easy to roast, sauté, or steam.
This makes it an excellent vegetable to branch out into for those who discern gourmet dishes.
It grows as an annual crop and tends to give its best when grown over the course of one year.
Best of all, it is easy to grow and nurture within your own garden.