Broccoli
Vegetable Farming in South Africa

© Louise Brodie

Scientific name: Brassica oleracea
Common Names: Broccoli, Italian Broccoli or Calabrese Broccoli

Plant Description

Broccoli grows as a flare of 8 to 12 grey green leaves that form into a bowl shape with the flower head or broccoli head growing out of the centre. This head is the nutritious vegetable that is eaten. It consists of many branching stalks tightly packed together that form, each with a flower head and together they make up the main head. Tender stem broccoli are a variation that has longer, thinner stems with smaller heads and there are other types of broccoli that are planted just for the use of their leaves.

Uses

Eaten as a vegetable, it is stir fried, boiled, steamed and at times eaten raw in salads. Broccoli is said to be one of the most nutritious vegetables. Is very high in vitamin A and C. Broccoli also contains high levels of folic acid, magnesium, calcium and iron. Broccoli is high in fibre and has properties that are said to fight cancer causing agents in our bodies.

Soil Requirements and Preparation

Broccoli does best on well drained, sandy loam soils that are high in organic material or that have been well composted. Broccoli requires a soil pH of between 6 and 6.8 and any correction of pH needed, is done at this time as well. Soils are prepared by ripping and are then ploughed to a depth of 600 mm. At this time any lime, manure or compost required prior to planting can be worked into the soil. A disc plough can also be used to further prepare and level the surface area that is to be planted.

Climate

Broccoli is a cool climate crop and grows its best when temperatures fluctuate between 14°C and 20°C. It does not do well at temperature above 24°C. Broccoli is generally produced in South Africa during winter and early spring.

Cultivars

Valiant, Ares, Romanesco, Early Pearl, Pharos, Calabrese, Imagine, Waltham, Naxos and Rapini

By Louise Brodie