The Best Tasting Broccoli Varieties to Grow in Your Garden

When it comes to nutrition this green vegetable can't be beat. Includes the best broccoli varieties to grow in your garden, when to harvest, how to prepare it and broccoli variations.

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    The nubs on the broccoli are actually tightly clustered flower buds. Harvest the head after the flower buds begin to swell, but before they actually open.
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    This swirly romanesco looks like something plucked on another planet.
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    This beautiful specimen is 'Violet Queen.' The purple color changes to green or blue when cooked.
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    Chart: How to beat broccoli pests.

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Learn about this nutritious vegetable and the best broccoli varieties to grow in your garden. See the broccoli photos and broccoli variety chart in the image gallery.

Fresh from the garden, broccoli has an unbeatable, sweet, gourmet flavor. "It's like eating green!" according to my young son Zane. Plus broccoli is the most nutritious of the commonly eaten vegetables, loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, iron and fiber.

Although broccoli is closely related to cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage, it is easier to grow and less susceptible to insect damage than any of those crops. Even the novice gardener can harvest a bountiful crop of broccoli for an extended time with a few simple tips. You can freeze any extra harvest for winter soups, quiches and casseroles.

Broccoli thrives in cool weather and grows best when daytime temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees. Where summer temperatures rarely top 80 degrees, you can grow broccoli all summer. Here in northeast Iowa, we plant in spring and again in late summer to avoid having broccoli mature during the hottest part of the summer. In hot, southern locations, a winter crop may be your only option.

To beat the heat and get a jump on spring weeds, we start our spring crop in soil blocks or individual plant cells around March 7, a little more than five weeks before the last hard frost here in our valley (USDA Zone 4). In coastal regions of the Southeast and Southwest, where winters are mild and summers are hot, growers start transplants in early January for transplanting in mid-February. Organic farmer Andres Mejides of Elfin Acres in southern Florida starts his broccoli transplants around September 1 for a winter crop that matures in the coolest part of their season. Whether you plant your seeds indoors or out, cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of soil or finished compost, and keep the soil moist for the best germination.

In general hybrid varieties provide the best production of central heads and better performance in hot weather. But the plants of a single hybrid variety tend to mature over a short period of time. To keep the broccoli coming, plant more than one variety at a time. For spring crops we plant 'Signal' for early harvest, along with 'Arcadia,' which matures about 13 days later.

9/1/2017 12:36:38 PM

I've never seen an article pointing out how summer squash/zucchini when allowed to get large (aka "marrows") take on "winter squash" qualities (esp. the non-yellow varieties) where peel gets tough and they can last many months. I live in the U.P. of Michigan and once frosts hit in Sept, I pick and move my marrows to the cool/to cold basement and eat fresh zuke into February before they spoil (some would likely last beyond if I didn't run out). Seems few people realize you can use the meat of marrows (I discard / compost the hard peel and abundant pulp/seeds) - it's great in smoothies, omelettes, stir fry --anything zukes are good for. Mark Young, 1100 Wells St., Iron Mountain, MI 49801

7/15/2014 2:14:55 PM

Health Benefits of Broccoli- Broccoli's noteworthy nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin A (mostly as beta-carotene), folic acid, calcium, and fiber. While the calcium content of one serving doesn't equal that of a glass of milk, broccoli is an more

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