BROCCOLI: A GOOD HOME GARDEN CROP
The cultivation of Broccoli in the United States is practically confined to one type, the Italian or Calabrese. The kinds grown in quantities in Europe to provide winter and spring crops (the Cauliflower-heading or Winter Cauliflower type) are occasionally grown, mostly by people of European birth, in places where winter conditions are sufficiently temperate to allow their culture, but they are of little general importance.
Calabrese Broccoli came into favor in the United States some thirty or forty years ago and since that time has so increased in popularity as to become one of the most favored of the green vegetables. It is obtainable in the markets at all times of the year and is grown in practically all sections of the country. Related to the Cauliflower branch of the Brassica vegetables and included in the Mustard family, the Cruciferae, it differs from the Cauliflower in that the "heads" are perfectly formed flower-bud clusters and are of a greenish-gray color. It ships well and is very suitable for deep-freeze storage.
Methods of Culture. Broccoli is a relatively easy crop to manage. It is necessary that good ground be employed, but not a site that has been recently manured, otherwise too rampant growth will ensue. Ground that the year previously was cropped with Potatoes, Peas, Celery or any other subject that called for good fertilization, makes an excellent location for spring plantings of Broccoli. If possible the ground should be plowed or dug in the fall or winter in order that it becomes thoroughly settled and firm before planting time.
Seedlings raised on hotbeds or in greenhouses should be transplanted into flats or frames as soon as they are ready to be moved from the seedbed and should be allowed to grow without check to their growth. Transplant these to the open ground in their permanent quarters when danger of killing frosts is past, taking care that the plants are gradually hardened off before they are set out. Ample space for development is nec essary; allow 3-4 ft. between the rows and space the plants 2 1/2-3 ft. in the rows. Great care should be taken that the young plants do not at any time become stunted; rapid growth should be encouraged at all times.
Cultivation to control weeds is important, and during dry spells water should be given freely. This attention promotes health and encourages growth. Mulching may take the place of later cultivation. Succession crops about a month apart are advocated, the supply of plants for all except the earliest crop being raised from seed sown in the open ground. Transplanting from the seedbed to permanent positions in the summer is best done during showery or dull weather, the young plants being set firmly and well watered after planting. The timing of late plantings is of course dependent on the expected arrival of the earliest killing frost. Calabrese Broccoli will stand no more than a few degrees of frost. The heads are cut while they are quite compact and before the bud clusters begin to separate or any sign of their flower color shows. Plants will continue to produce lateral shoots of usable quality for some time, but these gradually grow smaller as the plants age.
Varieties. A few only are offered for sale. Calabrese and de Cicio are recommended.
Cauliflower-heading Broccoli or Winter Cauliflower resembles, in general appearance, Cauliflower, but the plant is hardier. Because it does not head until late winter or spring, it can be grown only in the Pacific Northwest and parts of the South.
The seed is sown in April or May and the plants cultivated in essentially the same manner as Cauliflower.