Be A Dear And Pass The Broccoli
As a child growing up in the 60’s, I knew broccoli only as some horrendous green, gloppy thing my mother forced me to eat. I don’t recall eating fresh broccoli until my early 20’s; only the frozen kind that my mom boiled to mushy limpness. Based upon my early experiences, I really despised most vegetables, unless they were chopped up in Chinese food, or covered with cheese. Cheese made almost any vegetable go down – except Brussels sprouts. But, that is another story for another time. It still makes me shudder to think about it.
Fortunately, I gave broccoli another try when I was older. I found that broccoli was rather tasty when lightly steamed and seasoned, or sautéed with a little oil and garlic. I have dining out at cafes and restaurants to thank for my change of heart about eating vegetables (sorry, Mom). Now, broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables.
Broccoli is part of the cabbage family and the flowering head is used as the vegetable. In fact, the word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”.
I look forward to the cooler weather because I know its time to grow some broccoli. Broccoli is a cool-weather crop. It can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 40º F. Broccoli grows best when average daily temperatures are between 64 and 73 °F (that’s 18 and 23 °C for the rest of the world). However, I grew my broccoli throughout the winter by placing row covers over the plants when the temperatures dipped down and we had frost.
Because broccoli does not grow well in hot weather, I can only successfully grow broccoli in the late fall through early spring. In cooler parts of the country, broccoli can easily grow from early fall to mid-summer.
Last year, I planted my broccoli in late September and harvested it until late March, when the weather turned too warm and the broccoli began to bolt (“Bolt” meaning to flower, not “bolt,” as in to quickly run away). This year, the hot days continued through November, so I had to plant a little later.
If you haven’t grown broccoli before, it’s much bigger than what you see in the store. In the garden, it grows about 2-1/2 feet high, and has large flower heads on branches sprouting from a thick stalk, which is surrounded by leaves that branch out approximately 8-12 inches wide. It will take up a bit of space in your garden, but its worth it.
Next up, growing It . . .