Broccoli Plant Spotlight: Tips and Tricks to Grow and Cook for the Broccoli Gardener and Eater

Your garden and kitchen guide to broccoli

Broccoli was originally brought to Romans in Italy and became a popular vegetable to them. It was developed from wild cabbage. They knew two varieties, the Calabrese (the most familiar form today) and a purple sprouting type. They continued to experiment with recipes and mixtures of ingredients, adding components such as olive oil and wine to the vegetable.

Eventually, by the 16th century, it began to spread to other areas of Europe during the colonial days, and it made its way to the New World. In fact, Thomas Jefferson planted broccoli on his estate in Virginia during the American Revolution. During the 1700s, it was called Italian asparagus.Broccoli became very popular in America during the 20th century, when Italian immigrants brought it to the states. Now, the United States leads the world in broccoli production and California grows 92% of the U.S. crop,according to Sonoma County Master Gardener Rebecca Goodsell with UCANR.

Grow Your Own

Try to start seeding during a late fall or early winter harvest in order to grow your desired long-season broccoli. This type of broccoli will mature 90-120 days after transplantation. Depending on the season and the specific genus type of the broccoli, they usually take three or so months to grow. While they can grow in the warmer areas, they have a tendency to bloom prematurely. Broccoli tends to grow better in colder climates where they can still be exposed to sunlight.

It is important to note that sharing the soil with too many different plants and vegetables will quickly use up the nutrients the soil has and will get pests and diseases to grow in the soil and ruin the crop. Be sure to rotate the crops in your garden, especially if you have things like cabbage, cauliflower, etc. Make sure to give generous amounts of space for the broccoli heads to grow as large and firm as possible.

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Cooking Tips

Our friend Christine Gallary claims that she gets her daughter to eat her broccoli by marinating it in lemon juice and olive oil, then showering it in lots of Parmesan cheese before grilling or stir-frying it into tender submission.The marination adds flavor to the vegetables and it allows the cheese to seamlessly blend and stick to the broccoli, which gives a special mouth-watering taste. If this Grilled Parmesan Broccoli recipe from the Kitchn gets a child to enjoy eating her vegetables, then one can only imagine how scrumptious it must be.

Before trying this out, there are some general principles to be aware of when preparing broccoli. Based on how you are cooking broccoli, you can completely change the nutritional intake of the meal that you include it in. Steaming, microwaving, stir-frying and roasting can save and preserve the nutrients in the broccoli that help the human body. However, boiling broccoli can potentially filter and drain out a large majority of the vegetables nutrients.  

Nutrition and Health Benefits

While eating vegetables in general allows for a healthier style of living, it is believed that broccoli offers its own benefits. A lot of studies have indicated that broccoli can potentially decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  Broccoli is also a great source for fiber, potassium, Vitamins C and K, and folate (which helps maintain the cells in the body). 

Learn more about plants and what to grow in your area with the Giving Garden app. Giving Garden helps you grow, share and eat food locally. Available on iOS, Android and the web.  Find your local farmers market, grow your own food and share food to strengthen your local food system. If you have extra produce, we encourage you to post it on our mobile apps and let your friends and neighbors know. Let’s combat food waste together! Have suggestions on features or need assistance, email support@givinggarden.io 

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This blog post was written by Sanjay Reddy, a Biological Science and Professional Writing intern at Giving Garden. Sanjay is very passionate about plant and environmental science and is experienced in scientific research and writing for various fields. Connect with him on LinkedIn to see his current projects.

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