Broccoli is the same species as cabbage. In fact it means ‘cabbage sprout’ in Italian where it was developed as a cultivar.
The broccoli plant is a cultivated form of cabbage from the Mediterranean that has been evolved and grown since the early 1700’s. For a history of the brassicas – cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts etc see the page on cabbages.
A random selection from Eden Seeds:
- Di Cicco Early – excellent quality, blue-green heads to 10cm.
- Romanesco – you have to grow at least once just to marvel at it’s spiral patterned shape.
- Purple Sprouting Early – Very hardy and as the name suggests, purple!
Health and Nutrition
Broccoli is very good for you (but still not as good as Silverbeet/Chard). There is a particular compound called indole-3 carbnol, which is found in broccoli that has been shown to suppress breast cancer cell growth. Just don’t cook it in the microwave as it messes up structural compounds and means goodbye to all your good organic gardening work.
When to sow – From December to May in temperate ares like Melbourne
Spacing – Time to harvest – check the directions for each cultivar.
Pests and Diseases
You have to watch out for cabbage white fly which is very active in the warmer months when you first plant it out. Hand removal of the little green caterpillars at this stage will mean no problems during the cooler months. Aphids may also be a pest. If only one plant is being attacked, let them have it or remove it entirely. Little aphids in your broccoli flowers are nearly impossible to wash off because they get wedged between the flowers.
Uses and recipes
As mentioned above, microwave equals no-no when it comes to getting maximum nutrition from all the brassicas and leafy greens in general, but it must be said that you should only lightly cook (steaming or stir-frying okay) because even boiling will result in a loss of essential nutrients. Don’t forget also that we have developed a habit in the West of not consuming the leaves of these plants but all are edible, very good for you and quite a treat. It also gives you heaps more food out of your garden.