Broccoli

(Brassica oleracea) A cabbage relative grown for its unopened flower buds, broccoli is a Mediterranean native that thrives in cool (but not cold) weather. Prior to the turn of the 20th century, purple broccoli was more common than green. Descended from wild cabbage native to the Mediterranean coast, broccoli was bred by the ancient Etruscans. Although Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello, broccoli would not become commercially grown in the U.S. until the 1920s. Sow seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds ½ inch deep in trays filled with good quality potting mix. Ideal germination temperature is 75 degrees; seeds will germinate in 8-10 days. You can also direct seed 2-3 weeks before last frost, planting ¼ inch to ½ inch deep, 12 inches apart, and again in midsummer for a fall harvest. Provide rich soil and fertilizer for best results as broccoli is a fairly heavy feeder. Keep well watered. Sprouting types need to experience a winter's chill to make broccoli but are not reliably winter-hardy in zones 6 and colder.

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