The Italian heirloom broccoli De Cicco first became available to gardeners in 1890. However, the plant from which modern broccoli is derived first grew in the wild in the Mediterranean region and in Asia Minor. Broccoli gradually spread to the rest of Europe and to the New World, where Thomas Jefferson included this strange new vegetable in his experimental garden. The Italians appreciated it so much that it got the name “Italian asparagus.” After World War I, Italian brothers Stefano and Andrea D’Arrigo brought their Sicilian variety of broccoli and began growing it in San Jose, Calfornia; they later shipped it to Boston’s North End, where it established a quickly expanding market.
Sowing: Broccoli grows best in cool weather, so starting these Organic non-GMO Broccoli De Cicco seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before the last expected frost will ensure a faster crop. Shortly before the last frost and when the seedlings reach about 6″ tall, plant them 1-2′ apart in rows 2-3′ apart. For direct sowing seeds, plant them 1″ deep and 3″ apart in full sun and rich soil, about 2-3 weeks before the last expected spring frost; germination can take place at temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. For fall planting, direct sow the seeds in late July or August. For companion planting benefits, plant broccoli with herbs, potatoes, or onions; avoid planting it with tomatoes or pole beans.
Growing: Keep the young plants watered and remove weeds. Mulch helps discourage weeds and regulate soil temperature, and several applications of fertilizer or compost may also be needed. If several nights of below freezing temperatures are expected, cover the plants. If they become topheavy as they grow, provide a stake for support.
Harvesting: Harvest the main head while it is still tight, and before the florets begin to turn yellow; cut at least 6″ of the stem. Side shoots will continue to develop along the stem, and can be harvested as well; the plant will keep producing as long as weather conditions are favorable.
Seed Saving: Allowing broccoli to produce seed will take an entire growing season, and may require digging up the plants for the winter or mulching them well. Broccoli will cross pollinate with other members of the cabbage family such as cauliflower, and isolation of at least 1/4 a mile is recommended to prevent cross breeding. Once the flowers have bloomed and produced seed pods, let them dry and carefully remove them from the plant. Separate the seeds from the pods. Store Organic non-GMO Broccoli De Cicco seeds in a dry, cool place for up to five years.
Latin Name: Brassica oleracea
Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Cool Season
USDA Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Seeds per Ounce: 9,100
Planting Method: From Transplant
Sunlight: Full Sun
Height: 30 Inches
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