This post may contain affiliate links
It is tenderer than broccoli, but it has the same shape and texture as broccoli. This article will teach you how to grow broccolini, so you can enjoy it all year. Broccolini is a recent addition to my garden and has quickly become one of my favorite vegetables.
What is Broccolini?
Broccolini, an annual vegetable of the Brassicaceae group, is a member of the Brassicaceae .
It is actually a hybrid of European Broccoli and B. oleracea. Italica, and Chinese gai-lan, B. Oleracea var. alboglabra is also known as Chinese Kale. or Chinese Broccoli.
Although it looks much like broccoli, the broccolini produces small, tender shoots that produce flowers, rather than its larger-headed cousin.
The whole plant is edible, including curly green leaves and small florets. It is milder and sweeter than broccoli, with a subtle peppery flavor.
Broccoli Rabe is a distinct species that should not be confused with broccolini. It should not be confused with B.rapa var.
History and Cultivation
The broccolini was first commercially grown in Mexico in 1994 as a hybrid from Sakata Seed Company. Due to its thin edible stems, the new hybrid was called aspabroc.
It was first made available in the US in 1996. In 1998, it was renamed “broccolini” after a partnership between Sakata Seed Company (now Mann Packing Company) and Mann Packing Company. In its brief existence, it has been called many things, including broccoletti and broccolette.
When to Plant Broccolini
Broccolini can withstand USDA Zones 2 to 10. You can plant it as soon as the ground has thawed in spring. It can tolerate light frost, so it is best to wait until the frost danger has passed.
Broccolini is more productive when it’s planted from transplants than direct sowing. You can buy seedlings at your local nursery or garden center or plant seeds indoors in spring between 4-6 weeks and your last average frost date.
In each pot, plant 3-4 seeds at 1/4 inch depth in balanced soil. Place in a sunny, bright location or use an LED grow light. The seeds should germinate within 7-10 days. After a few weeks, you can remove any plant that is not strong and healthy from each pot.
You should harden the seedlings before transplanting them. This can be done by placing them outside for increasing time over a week.
When they reach 6-8 true leaves, transplant them into your garden. You can also plant seeds indoors or under a covered porch for an autumn harvest. You should transplant seedlings in the garden once they have 6-8 leaves.
Place seedlings in soil that have been amended with compost, and plant them about half an inch deeper than in their pots. Plants should be spaced about one foot apart, in rows of two feet.
Direct-sowing is possible if you have garden soil that has been amended with compost. Sow the seeds in rows 12-14 inches apart. Cover each hole 1/4 inch deep with a broccolini plant and lightly cover it with soil. After seedlings have emerged, you should thin them to 5-6 inches apart.
How to Grow Broccolini
Broccolini can prove challenging to grow because of the lack of knowledge about its ideal growing conditions.
It is generally considered a cool-weather crop with similar growing requirements as broccoli. However, it is not as cold-hardy as its parent.
It thrives in full sun, in well-drained soil that is nutrient-rich and has a pH of between 6.0 to 7.0. It is a good idea to add a few inches of compost to the soil before you plant.
Top with a thick mulch made of straw to retain moisture, control erosion, and regulate soil temperature.
Broccolini requires lots of water. They should have at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week. You should keep an eye on your plants and water them daily if the soil is dry. You should water the soil until it is moist but not too wet.
You can also spray your plants with comfrey or compost tea or a balanced organic liquid fertilizer like Dr. Earth Pure Gold All-Purpose Fertilizer.
If you notice yellowing leaves, it is a sign that your plant has a nitrogen deficiency. Spray them immediately. You can also apply liquid feed every other week to give your crop an extra boost in nitrogen. This will help you grow stronger and larger crops.
You can push soil around 8-10 inches tall plants until they reach the first large leaves. This will encourage the formation of side shoots. This is crucial because side shoots are what is harvested.
- Use composted or aged manure to amend the soil.
- To each hole, add one scoop of compost when you are transplanting.
- Mulch can retain moisture, control weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
- Water should be available for 1 to 2 inches per week.
- Every few weeks, spray the leaves with compost tea or organic fertilizer or when they begin to yellow.
- Push soil around the plant’s stems to encourage side shoots to form.
Choose from a variety of seeds
It can be challenging to find broccolini as the trademarked name is only available for commercial growers. Although there is only one official “Broccolini”, similar cultivars can be found under different names.
You should look for seeds and seedlings labeled sprouting broccoli or tender stem.
Because the official ‘Broccolini is trademarked, it can be difficult to find seeds as they are primarily sold for commercial growth.
The spring crop produces multiple mini florets. After a harvest, it produces new shoots and can be harvested up to three times per month. The quick-growing baby broccoli can be purchased in 50 seed packets or 12 live plants that you can transplant from Burpee.
This ‘Burgundy’ is gorgeous purple sprouting broccoli. This unique hybrid will delight you with its striking purple florets and pale green stems.
This cultivar is easy to grow and prolific. It’s recommended for fall gardening.
You can enjoy the earthy and sweet flavor in salads, on vegetable trays, roasted or sauteed, and steamed.
Management of Pests and Disease
This hybrid can be susceptible to the same issues that affect broccoli and other -cruciferous vegetable.
Avoid planting in the same area where other brassicas have grown over the past few years. To avoid spreading disease, it is best to plant broccolini separately from other cole crops.
Many pests can inflict broccolini crops. However, there are simple ways to manage them.
These tiny, soft-bodied insects eat sap and eat leaves. They love new growth.
Aphids are often found on the undersides of leaves. You should look out for yellowing, curled, or stunted leaves. Aphids can also be identified by their sticky honeydew, which attracts other pests and encourages mold growth.
To remove the leaves, you can use a strong spray of the hose to wash them off.
A homemade insecticide soap is a good prevention. It’s made of biodegradable dish soap and water. Simply crush two garlic bulbs and add them to a quart of water. Let it sit for at least overnight. Strain the mixture and add one teaspoon of biodegradable dish detergent.
These tiny jumping insects can chew through leaves and make small holes. Sometimes, you may find tiny white eggs in the soil or at the base of your plants.
Severe infestations can cause severe damage to crops and spread quickly throughout the garden.
If you have problems with flea beetles, floating row covers can be very useful when placed around young seedlings.
Also, you can spray neem oil or sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth on the affected crops.
These tiny green caterpillars are often found around brassica plants. They can chew through leaves and cause incredible damage. These caterpillars can be caught early as they can grow larger and cause more damage.
You can handpick caterpillars as they appear or sprinkle food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on plants with signs of infestation.
You can prevent problems before they hatch by treating small green eggs or silky cocoons on leaves, stems, and undersides with Diatomaceous Earth.
You can also install floating row covers to deter moths from landing on plants or laying eggs.
These tiny, legless creatures lay eggs at the base of young plants and feed off underground roots, eventually rotting and sometimes even killing your plants.
You should look out for stunted growth and occasionally wilting foliage with yellow or blue leaves. Remove infected plants from your garden immediately if you find an infestation.
These soft-bodied, slimy insects are more likely to be found in damp conditions. They can quickly cause significant damage to leaves by eating large holes in them. Learn how to protect your crops against slugs, snails, and other pests.
If you’re not too picky, you can handpick the slugs or place cups of cheap beer in your garden. The beer attracts the slugs, falling into the cups and drowning.
You can spray garlic oil on the soil to repel slugs or place uncoated copper around the plants.
You can reduce the chance of problems by installing a floating row cover or by sprinkling food-grade Diatomaceous Earth around the base of your crop plants.
Regular crop rotation is an excellent way to reduce the chance of continual infestation.
Keep an eye out for signs of disease, and take preventative measures like weeding. This will reduce the overcrowding and keep excess moisture from building up.
The common fungus that causes dark spots on leaves and can also affect cole family crops. It can grow in moist and warm environments and can also overwinter on soil and plant debris.
This fungus is easily spread and doesn’t have an effective treatment. It is important to get rid of infected plants as well as debris.
To reduce infection, you can mulch, thin weed, and allow leaves to dry completely between waterings.
This bacterial infection causes a foul odor, darkens the leaf veins, and eventually causes foliage to wilt. This disease is most common in humid, warm environments and is particularly prevalent in overcrowded gardens.
Black rot can be managed by prevention. It is difficult to treat. Plant your crops in well-draining soil and rotate them regularly. Avoid overwatering and get rid of any infected plants.
When to harvest Broccolini
There are several steps involved in harvesting broccolini. The harvest should begin after the main heads are formed but before the individual flowers have separated – usually about 2 to 3 months after planting.
The leaves should be bright green. Harvest before the leaves turn yellow. This will prevent the heads from wilting and losing their flavor. Begin by removing the central crown.
The goal is to encourage side shoots growth by removing the central stem. The main stem can be eaten, but the side shoots will eventually become the main harvest.
When side shoots appear, you can trim each stem just above a pair of green leaves. To encourage new shoots, cut towards the stem’s base. You can leave one set of green leaves intact.
Multiple crops of florets are possible if the leaves are still green and vibrant after you have cut the shoots. You may be able to harvest as many as three to five rounds from each plant, depending on your luck.
Pin this image and save the guide for later
Freezing broccolini is a quick and easy way to preserve it. Wash the shoots after harvest and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
Then blanch the pieces by dipping them in boiling water for about 1 to 2 minutes. To stop the cooking process, immediately drain the water from the pieces and then plunge them into ice water. Allow them to sit in the ice water for a while before draining.
Before freezing, drain them well. To prevent pieces from sticking together, freeze them in one layer on a baking tray for about two hours. For long-term storage, wrap them in freezer-safe bags and airtight containers.
You can take a few from the freezer to use in your next stir fry or steamer when you’re ready to cook. It can be kept in a refrigerator bag for a few days or a week to allow it to last longer. Before washing it, it is best to wait until it is ready for use.
What plants to avoid planting near Broccolini
Some plants are not suitable for broccolini, contrary to popular belief.
Beans, for example, fix nitrogen in the soil and make it too fertile for most varieties of broccoli (including broccolini).
Below is a list of vegetables that shouldn’t be planted in proximity to broccoli:
- mustard greens;
- pole bean
- lima beans
Another plant to avoid is squash. Its leaves can harbor bacteria after heavy rains and could be transported into nearby fields, where it could spread bacteria to other crops.
Avoid plants that are heavy feeders.
- sweet corn
- sweet potatoes
They could be competing with nutrients from the soil because of their high nutrient needs for growth.
Watermelon also has competition when it comes to fertilizer availability due to its water requirements for irrigation.
Recipes and cooking ideas
Broccoli is versatile in the kitchen. It can be roasted raw or cooked to a tender and delicious texture.
All three types of leaves have a sweet, earthy flavor. Although they don’t need to be peeled, the stalks taste more like asparagus than a milder form of broccoli.
This vegetable can be sauteed, steamed, or grilled. My favorite thing to make is a quick stir fry of broccolini, butter, garlic, and lemon juice.
I also very much enjoy making broccoli fritters; find the recipe here.
It may take several seasons to get it right, but the result will be tender and delicious. Mix it up this season with some broccolini, broccoli’s hip, or a young relative.
Have you ever tried growing broccolini from your garden? Would you be willing to share your experience? Comment below to share your thoughts and let us know which Zone you are in.