“This is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli this very minute descending on Washington.
My family is divided. I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.
But, Bar—, wait a minute! For the broccoli vote out there, Barbara loves broccoli. She’s tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So, she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli coming into Washington!”
― President George H. W. Bush, 22 March, 1990, White House News Conference
“I just love chocolate. It’s God’s apology for broccoli.”
― Richard Paul Evans, Author – Finding Noel
Is Broccoli Popular?
Chances are, if you liked broccoli as a child, you will like it as an adult. But, regrettably, the opposite is just as spot on.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a 900% increase in the consumption of broccoli. It is the world’s 5th most popular vegetable.
A Versatile Veggie…
Sure, you can eat broccoli raw but, most broccoli enthusiasts prefer that it be roasted (until brown-tinged), steamed (less than 5 minutes), or boiled (60 to 90 seconds for blanching).
Then combine it with a favorite dipping sauce be it your favorite salad dressing or a flavored dip usually reserved for celery or potato chips.
The broccoli haters who feel they “have to eat it”, will cook it until it is limp and mushy then, smother it with a cheese sauce made with Velveeta, milk, and butter. But, the more you cook it, the more you remove the nutritional benefits. And, to add extra fat and calories with cheese sauce after that? Well, so much for the nutritional advantage, huh? Right out the window!
We use it as a garnish, add it to salads, put it on pizza, or use it as an ingredient in pasta dishes and stir fried concoctions.
Ever Tried a Broccoli Smoothie?
I get out my Ninja blender and add a cup of broccoli, along with any fruit…bananas, strawberries, pineapples, apples, peaches, etc., or a combination of several compatible fruits.
Then, I add a little water and ice (I like it cold). And, voilà…a magically refreshing, green milk shake for Jim, the lifelong gardener! I do admit to occasionally adding a bit of peanut butter when I use bananas with broccoli. Since peanut butter was a mainstay in my house growing up, I still enjoy it.
Why do I use my Ninja? The super tough and durable blades finely chop the ingredients…especially the ice…more efficiently without sustaining ice-caused blade damage that is inherent to other blenders. Check out the review for the Ninja system I use right here.
Broccoli Looks Like a Healthy Little Green Tree
Well, broccoli looks so healthy because, it is jam-packed full of good things for your body!
It is actually a negative-calorie food meaning that, because of its high fiber content, the body uses up more energy digesting it than the calories it provides to the body.
This little green tree is loaded with more types of nutrients that you can imagine:
Vitamins – A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, E, and K.
Minerals and other nutrients – Calcium, Choline, Chromium, Copper, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Omega-3 Fats, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Selenium, and Zinc.
Broccoli has been scientifically proven to put the S.P.I.R.I.T. back into your body!
Stamp out – Dead cells, cholesterol from your body.
Promote – Weight loss due to high fiber content, as well as development of red blood cells and antibodies to aid the immune system.
Improve – Heart, eye, and gut health, as well as bone structure and tissue growth. Enhance brain functions since potassium is crucial for the transference of nerve impulses. Increase the ability of blood to clot.
Reduce – Cholesterol levels, body toxins, and blood pressure. Reduces reactions to allergies. Decreases the harmful effects that sugar can have on blood vessels. Consuming sugar adds plaques, clogging up the vessels. Chomping on some broccoli is like using a wire brush to clean out the vessels. Diabetes can also damage blood vessels and broccoli has been known to reverse the damage done by this disease.
Influence – Muscle, cell, and nerve functions.
Turn away – Cancer cell development…especially, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. Inhibit cardiovascular disease. Put a stop to rashes, arthritis, kidney problems, and even eczema.
So, Get Some S.P.I.R.I.T. and Grow Some Broccoli!
I have listed four varieties that are particularly tasteful:
Marathon Hybrid (97 days to maturity) – They are heat tolerant but, will keep growing in cooler temperatures. This is a good fall planting variety.
Packman Hybrid (50 days to maturity) – Packman Hybrids have large, solid heads with tight buds. Heads are very tender with a mild flavor.
Patriot (72 days to maturity) – This variety produces good yields and is a great choice for home gardeners. Most of these seeds have a resistance to Downy Mildew.
Premium Crop (55 days to maturity) – These will yield bright blue-green heads with small buds and will produce many side shoots after the main harvest.
My preferences are the latter two…Patriot…and Premium Crop.
Broccoli, a cool weather vegetable, is next to impossible to grow by starting seeds directly in the garden so, buy the seeds…then go through the 3-step process…starting at least six weeks before the last frost.
For a detailed description of each of these 3 steps:
Then, you’ll be ready to plant…just after the last frost.
Sunshine on My Broccoli Makes Me Happy
They need 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.
When do you plant broccoli?
Broccoli’s ideal temperature range is 65 °F (18 °C) to 80 °F (27 °C). If the temperature gets below 40 °F (4 °C) for a couple of weeks, the chill may set off the heads to form earlier than you want them to. Too hot? You’ll get the same early head formations! Broccoli is definitely a finicky little plant, isn’t it?
Mix up a 50/50 concoction of dirt and potting soil in a 5-gallon bucket and add about a half cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Plant the seedlings that you have hardened off, using the 50/50 mixture, in tilled, loose soil (at least 8 inches deep). Space them about 18 inches apart.
Water well and keep their soil moist (not soggy)…water them daily for the first week or so…at least until the seedlings grow a few inches to ensure that their roots are winding their way through the soil. Then, as long as they get water every 3 or 4 days (at least an inch of water a week), they will do fine.
Pruning and Mulching
As the summer heats up, the plants will begin to look tired and worn out. Insects will begin to chew up the leaves. You may think the plant is dead and gone. But wait! Don’t throw it away. Get in there and yank out as many bad leaves as you can find, keep it watered well, and watch the broccoli rejuvenate and begin producing more heads.
Some gardeners will remove the first head after it forms to encourage offshoots that will produce additional heads, also.
And, don’t forget to mulch around the plants to preserve the soil moisture and discourage weed growth. Weeds are always a strong competitor with vegetables in the garden for the soil nutrients.
Harvesting Beautiful Broccoli Heads with Those Elegant Floret Buds
When the florets on the broccoli head start to loosen up a bit…but, the head is still mostly tight and green, remove the head by cutting the stem at an angle. The angle cut helps prevent disease and the stem will begin to produce smaller heads. Thus, you will prolong the harvest for most of the growing season.
NOTE: If you wait too long to harvest, the florets will start to yellow and become tough and less flavorful. So, keep an eye on the plants and pick the heads when they are ready…not two weeks later.
Pests and Diseases
Otherwise, if you do not plan on adding some Plants That Repel Bad Bugs and Attract Good Bugs, you will be resorting to a good insecticide when the critters strike.
Downy Mildew is the most prevalent disease that attacks broccoli. Control it with a good fungicide.
The Last Word
Broccoli son: “Dad, no one likes me. What can I do?”
Broccoli dad: “Wear some cheese, son! I guarantee that you will be very popular!”
Get the S.P.I.R.I.T. and broccoli-up your life!
So what are your experiences with growing and eating broccoli? Let me know in the comments below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim, the Life Long Gardener
NOTE: For all the scientific names and intricate details, visit Broccoli – Wikipedia.