|Featured Recipes: Gardening Tips: |
A New Use for Old Leaves
Brassicas such as broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and cabbage benefit
from a nitrogen boost. An excellent way to provide this--and
trace minerals as well--is to till or fork some autumn leaves
into the bed, the fall before planting. If the leaves have been
composted for a year or two, so much the better.
A Swish in Time
The little green worms on your broccoli are harmless--but not the most appetizing garnish. After picking, soak the heads for 10 minutes in a sink full of heavily salted water, then swish the broccoli before removing it.
The worms, killed by the salt, will fall to the bottom.
Let it Bloom
Nothing goes to seed quite as relentlessly as broccoli. You are, after all, growing heads of tasty green buds, and a bud is determined to become a flower unless cool weather slows it down. One tries to keep up with the harvesting—to encourage the production of new bud-laden shoots—and to snip off flowering stalks promptly. After a certain point, the edible stalks diminish and soon the plant is a riot of yellow blooms. Tidy gardeners then rip the plants out and compost them. I like to leave some for the bees, who are grateful for this superior nectar source.
This Brassica favorite has been enjoyed in Europe since the Roman Empire, yet only became really popular in the U.S. in the Roaring Twenties. Easily grown in fertile soil and cool, sunny weather, Broccoli is best grown as transplants, sown 4 weeks before setting out, 2 weeks before the last spring frost date. Sow seed again in July to transplant out for an additional fall Broccoli bonanza. Harvest the crisp, dark green florets with a sharp blade before the florets open, as close to consumption as possible. Avoid flower development, and harvest regularly to encourage new side shoot growth. Broccoli is best enjoyed raw, steamed, stir-fried or roasted to reap the benefits of its Vitamin C, dietary fiber and anti-cancer properties. Any way but boiled. Listen to your body's Broccoli cravings. We adore it roasted in combination with quartered Red Onions, Brussels Sprouts, baby Carrots, Fennel, Cauliflower and black seedless grapes. Or, in Chef Gene Genarelli's raw Broccoli Pecan Salad. We've eaten it for breakfast.
Average seed life: 3 years
#1425 Purple Peacock Broccoli: 70 days|
As ornamental as it is delicious, this Frank Morton head turner has frilly, fuchsia-striped blue leaves and neon-purple stems. Decidedly different than traditional broccoli, Purple Peacock is an eat-it-all plant more like broccolini. The yummy leaves are sweet-tender, and the stems and florets are absolutely delicious. Grow as transplants for early spring and again in midsummer for fall harvest. You’ll be glad you did. (OP.)
Packet of 350 Seeds / $3.55
#1430 Beaumont Broccoli: 75-80 days|
An unrivaled Dutch variety, this knock-out produces uniform, well-rounded, tight 7” domes of deep blue-green florets. It withstands the high heat of summer and vigorously produces its gorgeous heads well into the fall. It is one terrific broccoli: as delicious as it is beautiful and productive. (F1.)
Packet of 150 Seeds / $3.75
#1435 Aspabroc Baby Broccoli: 50-60 days|
The alias of this Broccoli raab cousin is Broccolini®. A fine gourmet treat with stems as tender as Asparagus, it has loose little heads that are milder and sweeter than Broccoli raab. The compact plants produce a small central head followed by a never-ending flurry of delectable side shoots. Plant this baby in early spring, and again in late summer for prolonged fall harvest.
It makes one awesome crusty sandwich. Add two fingers of water to a heavy skillet and simmer sweet Italian sausages until the water evaporates. Add sliced onions, Aspabroc Baby Broccoli stems and finely minced garlic, sautéing until just tender. Salt and pepper to taste, adding crushed red pepper flakes judiciously. Pile the zesty mélange on warm Italian bread topped with Fontina cheese (the flavorful luscious melter). For pasta sauce, add a swish of white table wine and ladels of hot pasta liquid until the consistency seems right. Top with freshly grated parmesan. (F1.)
Packet of 100 Seeds / $4.95
#1440 Waltham 29 Broccoli: 63-74 days|
An old-time OP variety developed at the University of
Massachusetts, this prized heirloom produces scads of 4” to
8” dense, uniform, blue-green heads that are as tasty as
they are prolific. Borne on compact stocky plants that get
about 20” tall, Waltham 29 also yields a bumper crop of
delectable side shoots. Its unique cold tolerance permits
late fall harvests as well as a head start in early spring
Packet of 700 Seeds / $3.05