Broccoli De Cicco
brassica oleracea var italica
Sowing: Sow broccoli seeds in early spring for an early summer crop or in midsummer for a fall crop. In mild-winter regions, sow broccoli from fall to late winter. Time your planting so that harvest comes before the weather warms into the 70sF (21sC) ; the florets will open in warm weather and become inedible. Start seed indoors 8 weeks before transplanting seedlings to the garden. Sow seeds in a warm, well-lighted location—in a bright window or under grow lights. Sow seeds 1/4″ (6 mm) deep in seed starting mix. Firm lightly and keep mix just moist. Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days at 50-85°F (10-29°C). Sow seed outdoors when the soil temperature is at least 65°F (18°C).
Growing: Seedlings can be transplanted into the garden when they are 4-5” (10-13 cm) tall after the last hard frost in spring. Move seedlings to a sheltered place outdoors to “harden off” 1 week before transplanting. Space plants in garden 16″ (41 cm) apart in rows 24” (61 cm) apart. Grow broccoli in rich, well-drained soil, in full sun. Give sprouts regular water keeping the soil evenly moist.
Harvesting: Broccoli will be ready for harvest 80-100 days from direct seeding and 60-80 days from transplanting depending upon variety. Cut off the main or central head when it is 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) in diameter and the flower buds are still tight and green. To encourage secondary shoots to form heads cut away 6 inches (15 cm) of stem with the central stem. Harvest secondary side shoots when they are 4 inches (10 cm) long. Broccoli will keep in the refrigerator crisper for 10-14 days. Blanch heads before freezing for up to 3 months.
After central head is cut, many medium sized side shoots will take its place! 60-90 days.