One of the healthiest vegetables around is broccoli, and not only because of its fabulous vibrant green colour (don't forget to eat your greens!).
Broccoli is from a family of vegetables called cruciferous vegetables, and this family includes cauliflower, cabbage and bok choy. Broccoli in particular has amazing health benefits...as well as being rich in vitamin C and fibre, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have potent anti-cancer properties and contain iodine which is beneficial for your thyroid gland (so now you know why your really should be eating your greens!).
Now is the time to start planting broccoli so you can revel in the joys of homegrown greens. And here are our top tips and hints at how to get the best crop possible...
- In New Zealand, February, March and April are the best months to plant broccoli. You will be able to harvest them after approximately 60-90 days and they are relatively easy to grow.
- If you are growing from seed, grow in seed trays and plant out in the ground after 4-6 weeks, spacing the plants around 35-50cm apart.
- Keep broccoli seedlings well watered, otherwise they will dry up and become inedible. As the plants grow, they should develop a lot of large, healthy green leaves before the heads begin to develop. These are the parts that you eat. Once you have cut off the main heads, leave the plant to continue to grow as you will get additional crops from the sideshoots.
- You can get Purple Broccoli or heading varieties...purple is tougher and hardier while the other varieties do well in warmer weather.
- Pests will come in the form of cabbage white butterflies, so be sure to remove any eggs and caterpillars immediately.
- You can also grow 'broccolini' which is another variety grown for the edible stalks. These grow super fast as long as you provide lots of water and food.
- As soon as a plant's yellow flowers open up, then that is a good sign that it is past the point of being edible. The plants tend to be very woody in this state so be sure to pick them sooner rather than later.
Serve your freshly grown and picked broccoli steam or lightly boiled with a Blue cheese dipping sauce.
Adpated from GardenGrow.co.nz