Broccolini Information – How To Grow Baby Broccoli Plants
If you go into a fairly nice restaurant these days, you may find that your side of broccoli has been replaced by something called broccolini, sometimes referred to as baby broccoli. What is brocollini? It looks sort of like broccoli, but is it? How do you grow baby broccoli? Read on for broccolini information on growing broccolini and baby broccoli care.
What is Broccolini?
Broccolini is a hybrid of European broccoli and Chinese gai lan. In Italian, the word ‘broccolini’ means baby broccoli, hence it’s other common name. Although it is partially comprised of broccoli, unlike broccoli, broccolini has very small florets and a tender stem (no need to peel!) with large, edible leaves. It has a subtle sweet/peppery flavor.
Broccolini was developed over a span of eight years by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan in Salinas, California in 1993. Originally called ‘aspabroc,’ it is a natural rather than genetically modified hybrid.
The original name of ‘aspabroc’ was chosen for the undertones of asparagus reminiscent of the hybrid. In 1994, Sakata partnered with Sanbon Inc. and began marketing the hybrid under the name Asparation. By 1998, a partnership with Mann Packing Company led to the crop being called Broccollini.
Because of the myriad of names broccoli has gone by, it can still be found under many of the following: asparation, asparations, sweet baby broccoli, bimi, broccoletti, broccolette, sprouting broccoli, and tenderstem.
High in vitamin C, broccolini also contains vitamin A and E, calcium, folate, iron, and potassium, all with just 35 calories a serving.
How to Grow Baby Broccoli
Growing broccolini has similar requirements to broccoli. Both are cool weather crops, although broccolini is more sensitive to cold than broccoli but it is also less sensitive to heat than broccoli.
Broccolini thrives in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Start seeds indoors in the early spring or early fall depending on when you want to harvest. Set the plants outside when they are 4-6 weeks old.
Space the transplants a foot (30 cm.) apart and 2 feet (61 cm.) apart in rows. If in doubt, more room is preferable between plants since broccolini can become quite a large plant.
Baby Broccoli Care
Mulch over the plant’s roots to help retain moisture, retard weeds, and keep the plant cool. Broccolini needs lots of water, at least 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) per week.
Broccolini will be ready to harvest when the heads begin to form and the leaves are a brilliant, dark green, usually 60-90 days after planting. If you wait until the leaves are turning yellow, the broccolini heads will be wilted instead of crisp.
As with broccoli, once the head is cut, provided the plant is still green, broccolini will reward you with a last harvest of florets.
Planting and Care
Broccoli needs cool weather to thrive, so here in Florida it should be planted during fall and winter. It takes 80-100 days to mature, so don't plant too late in the season—rising temperatures may cause the plants to "bolt," meaning the flowers within the head will start to open.
In South Florida, broccoli transplants can be planted in the garden from September through January. North and Central Florida gardeners can plant transplants anytime from mid-August through mid-March. You can buy transplants at a garden center or start your own from seed.
Like all plants, broccoli needs certain nutrients in order to grow, so fertilizing with a 6-8-8 fertilizer of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) will help your plants succeed. You can use either a liquid fertilizer solution or a controlled-release solid fertilizer. You should fertilize at planting time and then regularly throughout the growing season. A layer of mulch can help retain moisture around the plants and suppress weed growth.
Although broccoli is a cool-season vegetable, it will still benefit from protection from low temperatures (32В°F or cooler), especially when plants are young and tender.
Vegetables like broccoli need at least four to six hours of sun per day, so you'll need to find a sunny spot. Vegetables also need plenty of water, so be sure that you have a convenient source nearby. Provide one to two inches of water per week heavy soakings once a week are preferred to several lighter sprinklings.
A number of broccoli varieties are available, with 'Waltham 29' being an old favorite. It can be harvested 80-100 days from when it is transplanted and will continue to produce side shoots after the main head is cut. Other good varieties for Florida include 'Early Green', 'Early Dividend', 'Green Sprouting'/'Calabrese', 'Packman', and 'De Cicco'.
It's also a good idea to have your soil tested through your local Extension office before you plant. Ideally, you're hoping for a soil that falls in the pH range of 6.2 to 6.5. Consider amending the soil with organic materials like composted manure before planting your broccoli.
For more information on growing broccoli, contact your county Extension office.
Rabbage is a cross between cabbage and radish, resulting in small heads of ruffly, peppery leaves. The rabbage’s leaves are pretty, with a two-toned effect that makes them both jungle green and vivid purple-red. They’re tasty in cole slaw or salad, shredded to top tacos or sandwiches, and grilled as a side dish. Rabbages are also called raphanobrassica plants.
This particular hybrid vegetable has never enjoyed the same popularity as many of the others. People look down on it as having the worst qualities of its two ancestors: the leaves of the radish and root of the cabbage. As a result, you’ll probably have a hard time locating seeds or starter plants if you decide you want to grow rabbage. You won’t be able to cross this hybrid yourself at home, as rabbage is an intergeneric hybrid, a crossing that’s only possible in the lab and would never have happened in nature.
While some of these crossbred vegetables are only available in the produce department, many of them can be purchased as seeds so you can grow them in your own garden. There’s no better way to make your harvest more exciting than to grow an unusual vegetable. Your family will love getting to know these crossbred hybrid vegetables in the garden as well as on their dinner plates.