Growing Heirloom Italian Broccoli

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Broccoli Brassica oleracea (Italica Group) ‘’Di Cicco’ is an excellent heirloom variety originating from Italy that produces numerous small to medium sized heads. In Carteret County, this variety can be sown in late summer, fall and early winter for harvest in late winter/early spring. Seeds usually take 7-14 days to emerge, should be planted at a 1/8 inch depth in well-drained soil (rich in nutrients and organic matter) and spaced every 36 inches. Broccoli is a heavy feeder and requires consistent moisture and full sun.


Broccoli row spacing. Photo by: Michael Thomas

It normally takes a minimum of 48 days for plants to mature, but planting during winter will lengthen this time. Plants can withstand frost, but multiple days with below freezing temperatures and/or snow may cause damage to the plants. Broccoli heads are actually clusters of unopened flowers, which will eventually open to reveal flowers if not harvested before the florets open. These flowers are actually very attractive to pollinators. To encourage side florets, cut the main head when it reaches 3 inches in diameter.


Broccoli ‘Di Cicco’, Photo: Michael Thomas

One of the most-healthy vegetables, broccoli contains vitamins C and A, iron, potassium and folic acid. Be sure to rotate your Brassicas so they aren’t growing in the same soil each year to prevent the build up of soil borne pathogens. A three year rotation will reduce soil borne insect and disease pressure.

If there is a particular plant that you have an issue with or need help identifying, visit North Carolina Cooperative Extension or call (252) 222-6352.

Written by Michael W. Thomas – Extension Master Gardener Volunteer – Carteret County

Young gardener and author Michael Thomas

Young gardener starting early and author Michael Thomas