Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hybrid Broccoli Blend

Hybrid Broccoli Blend
55-100 days. We mix four very flavorful, tender varieties together for a harvest period of about two months from a single sowing date. Contains Belstar, Everest, Southern Comet, and Packman. If the broccoli fancier makes one spring sowing and one more in late May/early June, a nearly continuous harvest of big, succulent heads will be enjoyed until fall. Thin carefully, as some varieties grow faster than others. HV

Belstar Broccoli
66-75 days. Flawlessly uniform, 6-inch heads are beautiful blue-green, densely packed florets. The tightly domed heads are held high off the plants for easy harvest. This variety has excellent field holding capacity and is ideal for both warm and cold weather planting. It performed so well in our trials that it would have been a sin not to offer it.

Southern Comet Broccoli
80 days. One of the best producers of all our early spring hybrids. Sturdy forest green heads are ready to harvest when 6-8 inches in diameter. The skin is so thin and tender and the flavor so sweet, it is a must for the gardening gourmet and well suited for local farmer's market sales. Grows 14-16 inches tall and offers good side shoot production.

55 days. An early-maturing hybrid, Packman produces a large, sage green central head quickly with harvestable side shoots forming soon after the central head is cut. The 9 inch crowns of Packman are extremely uniform. They are tight with medium beading, a very handsome variety for both the home gardener and the roadside market. Relatively tall plants reach 27 inches high.

100 days

Brassica oleracea, Botrytis Group: Broccoli is sometimes called the luxury crop because it's so easy to grow and it has a million dollar taste. By sowing several varieties that have a sequence of maturity dates, you can have a continual harvest through late fall and even over winter into spring from just one or two plantings.
Brassica rapa, Ruvo Group

CULTURE: When compared with the rest of the cole crops, broccoli is generally the most vigorous and trouble free to grow. However, early plantings are essential because it lacks tolerance to extreme heat. Generally cole crops are tolerant of the acidic soils. Maintaining a pH of 6.0-6.8 will make the best use of the available nutrients.
FOR TRANSPLANTS: Start broccoli indoors or in the greenhouse about the first of February for transplanting in mid-March. Sow the seed in a sterile seedling mix, 1/4 inch deep, in individual pots. The optimum soil temperature range is 55-75°F. Days to emergence: 5-17. Keep the seedlings moist, and provide adequate nutrition. Harden off seedlings in a cold frame prior to transplanting. Set the seedlings 12-24 inches apart, in rows 18-36 inches apart. Side-dress with 1/2 cup blood meal or composted chicken manure. Young seedlings may be covered with a cloche or row cover such as Gro-Therm or Reemay. Be watchful for early hot spells, because covers can create too much heat if left unchecked.
TO DIRECT SOW: Broccoli can be directly seeded from April through mid July. Sow the seed 1/2 inch deep, 4 inches apart, in rows 18-36 inches apart. Cover the seed with loose soil or sifted compost. Keep the seedbed uniformly moist as rough heads or leaves in the head are usually from heat-stressed seedlings. Thin plants to 12-24 inches apart and work in 1/4-1/2 cup of our complete fertilizer or equivalent around the base of each plant. INSECTS: See Brassica Insect Information in the box below.
DISEASE: The home gardener can help prevent viral and fungal broccoli diseases by practicing long crop rotations, using sterile starting mixes if transplanting, and practicing general sanitation procedures.
HARVEST: Before flower buds open, cut the central head at a 45°F angle. Side shoots will form from the axillary buds and should be cut regularly to encourage production. Store at 40°F and 95% relative humidity.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 80%. Days to maturity are calculated from transplanting date; add 25-35 days if direct seeded. Usual seed life: 3 years. Approximately 125-175 seeds per 1/2 gram, about 250-350 seeds per gram; 28 grams per ounce.

WHEN TO PLANT: An early start on this cool weather annual will give you fine quality green heads before uniformly hot weather reigns. Plants seeds thinly in flats about five to six weeks before planting them outside, which can be up to a month beofre your last expected frost. Broccoli can withstand frost down to about 25°F. It grows best at 60°F to 65°F. Make an early summer planting - directly in the row if you wish to produce fresh new plants for fall eating.
HOW TO PLANT: Transplant the seedlings at least once into larger flats and set out young plants 18"-24" apart, in rows about 24" apart. Broccoli plants spaced 10"-12" apart will also yield well but have smaller heads.
GROWING CONDITIONS: Failure ot produce heads can be caused by hot weather, lack of water and low soil calcium.
PESTS: Cutworms, flea beetles and cabbage moth larvae are common enemies of the broccoli seedling.
VARIETIES: Green Comet or premium Crop for spring planting are good varieties. Waltham 29 is still a good fall broccoli.

PURCHASED: 1g from Territorial Seed Co. Jan '09. $3.95
STARTED SEED: 2/5/09, 9 pm - one batch with heating mat (82° - consistent) one without (72° / next morning 62°). Seeds germinated much better in the cooler flat maybe 80% or so. The hotter mat had a rate of about 20% or less! Though both were showing signs of life by 2/7 - 2 days - not bad!
HARDENED OFF: 3/15/09: One hour in the cold frame.
OTHER NOTES: Thought this would be a good way to check out different kinds of broccoli, that is w/ small mix of four varieties - just hope I'll be able to tell them apart when it comes down to it! I'll try to go by days to maturity to determine which one's which - hope I also don't thin one or two out in the process. I've only tried broccoli one other time when I was first getting into gardening and I know now that I planted it way too late in the season so it just gave up the ghost on me, poor dear. Hope I have better luck this time around.







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