1. Q. Can broccoli be grown in the spring and the fall?
A. Generally, yes, depending upon the variety, the area of Texas and the time planted. Broccoli does best when temperatures remain between 40 degrees and 70 degrees F. during the growing period. In most areas broccoli grows best if planted in late summer so it can mature during cool periods. Temperatures below 25 degrees F. can damage or kill broccoli. Broccoli should be planted early enough to mature before these conditions occur.
2. Q. What causes broccoli heads to become discolored and slightly slimy?
A. Under certain environmental conditions, such as high temperatures during the initiation of the edible portion, discoloration occurs. This has been observed on some of the hybrid varieties. Correct planting times and good cultural care will usually eliminate head discoloration.
3. Q. What causes broccoli to flower almost immediately making the heads inedible?
A. High temperatures at heading time usually causes premature flowering and consequently reduces the quantity of home-grown broccoli. Broccoli will flower quickly if it is forced to mature at temperatures much above 80 degrees F.
4. Q. Are broccoli leaves good to eat?
A. Yes, most people would have a hard time distinguishing between young broccoli leaves and collard greens. Harvest and prepare only young, tender leaves as older, tougher leaves often develop a somewhat bitter taste.
5. Q. I have harvested the first large heads of broccoli from my garden. The secondary sprouts are now producing heads, but they are not as large as the first head harvested. Is this normal or should we fertilize?
A. The center head produced by broccoli is always the largest. The secondary sprouts produce heads about the size of a silver dollar. Sidedressing with fertilizer can increase yields and size of these sprout shoots. More of these are required to make a meal, but they will be as tasty as the large center head.
6. Q. My broccoli is magnificent this fall, but some plants rot after I remove the main head. The stem has a hole in it that retains water and causes rotting. What can I do?
A. The hole in the stem cannot be corrected now. It is caused by a boron deficiency corrected by the addition of one-half pound per 1,000 square feet of a boron product such as Twenty Mule Team Borax. Since boron is a minor element, add only small amounts. Boron toxicity occurs if too much is added so use only what is required for your gardening area.
7. Q. This is the first year I have grown broccoli and I cannot determine when it is ready to harvest. How will I know?
A. Generally, when individual buds of broccoli are match-head size and distinct (loose) in appearance, the head is as large as it is going to get. After growing a certain variety for several seasons you will soon know the potential size for heads of that variety. The size of the head produced depends on variety, season and fertilization.
8. Q. My broccoli foliage is developing yellow spots on the upper side with a downy growth underneath.
A. This is downy mildew. It is caused by an airborne fungus. Some varieties of broccoli are resistant to this. Foliar sprays of chlorothalonil can be used to control this problem. Begin applications at the first sign of the disease and repeat in 10 to 14 days.
9. Q. Some of my young broccoli plants are stunted, weak-looking and covered by small, green bugs. What can be used to control these insects?
A. Aphids, or plant lice, are sometimes a real problem on broccoli and other members of the cabbage family. They are easy to control with insecticides such as malathion or diazinon. Early control is necessary because aphids reproduce rapidly.
10. Q. How can I control worms that get in my broccoli heads?
A. These are probably loopers, imported cabbage worms, or perhaps broccoli head worms. Regardless of the type worm, they can be controlled with a product containing Bacillus thuringiensis. This is a biological-type insecticide which controls most types of worms. This material must be eaten by the worm and activated by the gut of the worm which is alkaline. The worm then dies a slow and painful death from terminal constipation! This takes 2 to 3 days which means worms are not killed immediately. This is a completely safe chemical and can be used for control of most types of worms on most garden vegetables. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of a liquid detergent per gallon of spray mixed to insure adequate wetting of the waxy leaf surface.
11. Q. What is broccoflower? Did someone misspell broccoli?
A. A strange new vegetable is invading produce departments throughout the United States. This produce stranger, broccoflower, is the result of a genetic cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Although its physical attributes resemble cauliflower, it has the color and flavor of broccoli.
Initial indications from producers of this new crop suggest that demand for broccoflower is exceeding supply. Whether or not broccoflower's rapid rise in popularity is due to its novelty or to its taste, it is the hottest produce item to hit the market in recent years.
Cultural practices and growing seasons are similar for both cauliflower and broccoflower. The major difference in production is that there is no need to tie wrapper leaves over broccoflower to maintain its color and quality as is required for cauliflower cultivation.