Broccolini, sometimes known as “baby broccoli,” may be served as a side dish in some high-end restaurants these days in place of the more traditional option of broccoli. What is brocollini, and how do you eat it? There’s something here that looks like broccoli. What’s the best way to cultivate broccoli florets? Learn how to grow broccolini and how to take care of a young broccoli in this article.
What is Broccolini?
Broccolini is a cross between broccoli from Europe and gai lan from China. The Italian term “broccolini” translates to “baby broccoli,” which is why it’s also known as “little broccoli.” broccolini features small florets, a sensitive stem, and huge, delicious leaves, despite the fact that it is partially composed of broccoli. It’s mildly sweet and spicy.
The Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan created Broccolini in Salinas, California in 1993. It was originally known as ‘aspabroc,’ and it is a naturally occurring cross between two species.
This is why the initial name for the hybrid, ‘aspabroc,’ was selected. When Sakata and Sanbon Inc. joined together in 1994, they began selling the hybrid under the brand name Asparation. A cooperation with Mann Packing Company resulted in the crop being renamed Broccollini in 1998.
Asparation, asparations, delicious baby broccoli, bimi, broccoletti, broccolette, sprouting broccoli, and tenderstem are just a few of the various names for broccoli.
With only 35 calories per serving, broccolini is a good source of vitamin C as well as vitamins A and E, calcium, folate, iron, and potassium.
How to Grow Baby Broccoli
The conditions for growing broccolini are very similar to those for broccoli. Both broccolini and broccoli are cool-weather crops, although broccolini is more sensitive to cold and less responsive to heat.
Between 6.0 and 7.0 is the ideal pH for Broccolini. Depending on when you want to harvest your seeds, you can either start them indoors in the early spring or early fall. When the plants are 4-6 weeks old, you can move them outside.
Rows of grafts should be spaced a foot (30 cm.) apart and two feet (61 cm.) apart in distance. If you’re unsure, it’s best to leave more space between plants because broccolini can grow fairly huge.
BROCCOLINI PESTS AND PROBLEMS
Like other cole crops, broccolini is vulnerable to the same pests and diseases that affect other types of broccoli. Don’t plant it in an area where broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, or their relatives have been cultivated in the last four years to avoid pest and disease difficulties.
Infestation with aphids or whiteflies can cause your broccolini leaves to twist, pucker, and turn yellow. Look for soft-bodied green, brown, or pink insects on the undersides of leaves. Hand-picking aphids or using organic insecticidal soap to eliminate them are both viable options. Aphids are eaten by ladybugs. Whiteflies can only be effectively treated with soap.
As the name suggests, cabbage loopers, or cabbageworms, are green caterpillars that can make rough holes in leaves. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis or pluck them by hand. Slugs are another potential source. If your garden is infested with slugs, try burying jars filled with water and beer or yeast. Because of the stench, they will fall into the water and drown. You may want to encourage birds and snakes to consume cabbage worms and slugs.
Flea beetles are most likely to blame for the small holes in your leaves. Vegetable weevils may be responsible for gnawing the stems off plant leaves. These pests may be controlled by a pyrethrum spray. Spray pyrethrum in the evening, when pollinators are less busy, as it is both organic and harmful to bees.
Downy mildew is characterized by yellowish patches on leaves that develop white mold in damp weather. Leaves and stems with dark spots and wilted bluish or reddish leaves are the earliest signs of black leg disease. Sunken areas eventually encircle the stem, causing it to tumble over. Copper or Bacillus subtilis can be used as an organic fungicide if you catch either of these illnesses early. The afflicted plants should be removed and destroyed (not composted) if they are well advanced.
WAYS TO PREPARE BROCCOLINI
Raw broccolini is thought to have the strongest flavor. It can also be prepared in the same way as broccoli. Whether you’re making a soup, a stew, a stir-fry or a calzone, you may use it in a variety of different ways.
Baby Broccoli Care
It helps conserve moisture, inhibit weed growth, and regulate the temperature of the plant roots by covering them with mulch. As a rule of thumb, Broccolini should be watered at least once a week, preferably twice.
In around 60 to 90 days after planting, broccolini will be ready for harvest when the heads begin to form and the leaves turn a magnificent dark green. Waiting until the broccolini leaves turn yellow will result in wilted heads rather than crisp ones.
After cutting the head, if the plant is still green, you will get a final harvest of florets from broccolini.
Cultivation and History
When Sakata Seed Company began cultivating broccolini as a hybrid in 1994, it was a relative newcomer to the gardening landscape.
The thin edible stems of the new hybrid were dubbed aspabroc because of their resemblance to asparagus.
A cooperation between Sakata Seed Company and Mann Packing Company renamed it “broccolini” in 1998 after it first hit the US market as “broccolini”.
It has been known as broccoletti, broccolette, asparation, tenderstem, sprouting broccoli, and baby broccoli.
It is hardy from USDA Zones 2 to 10 for broccolini.
When the ground thaws in the spring, it can be planted. In colder places, you may want to wait until all the risk of frost has passed before planting this variety.
It’s recommended to start broccolini from seed rather than straight sowing.
A local nursery or garden center can either supply you with seedlings that you can plant in your garden, or you can start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before your normal last frost date.
Aim for a bright, sunny position or use a grow light to sow three to four seeds 1/4 inch deep into each pot of well-balanced potting soil. In 7 to 10 days, seeds should begin to germinate.
For each pot, remove all but the strongest and healthiest plant.
The remaining seedlings should be hardened off for at least a week before being transplanted outside.
When the seedlings are 4-6 weeks old, or have acquired 6-8 genuine leaves, they are ready to be planted in the garden.
Late summer and early fall are good times to start seeds indoors or on a covered porch for an autumn crop.
Seedlings should be transplanted into the garden when they have at least six to eight genuine leaves.
Outdoors, use garden soil that has been composted and plants that have been started in pots. Rows of plants should be spaced about a foot apart.
You can try direct-spreading seeds by sowing them in rows 12-14 inches apart on garden soil that has been treated with compost. Cover each 1/4-inch-deep hole with soil and plant a broccolini seed.
Thin seedlings to a distance of 5 to 6 inches once they have emerged.
How to Grow
Producing broccolini might be a challenge because of the lack of information on the best conditions for growing this vegetable.
Although it is not as cold hardy as its progenitor, it is generally regarded as a cool-weather crop with similar growing requirements to broccoli.
As long as the soil is well-drained, rich in nutrients and has a pH of at least 6.0, this plant thrives in full sun. A few inches of compost or old manure can be added to the soil before planting.
Apply a layer of straw or shredded leaves on top of the soil to help retain moisture, control weeds and decrease soil erosion.
Broccolini is a thirsty plant, requiring at least 1 to 2 inches of water a week in order to thrive. Keep an eye on your plants and water them as soon as the soil appears dry on top. Do not over-water the soil, but don’t let it become saturated.
A balanced organic liquid fertilizer such as Dr. Earth Pure Gold All Purpose Liquid Fertilizer, which is available at Nature Hills Nursery, can also be sprayed on plants.
Nitrogen deficit can be detected by yellowing leaves. To help your crop grow larger and more resilient, consider applying liquid feed on a weekly or biweekly basis. This will provide plants with an extra injection of nitrogen.
Using a shovel, push soil up to the first huge leaves of plants that are 8 to 10 inches tall.
Side shoots will be more likely to form as a result of this. The side shoots are the section that is harvested, thus this is very significant.
- The soil should be supplemented with compost or manure that has been used for a while.
- Compost should be added to each planting hole prior to transplanting.
- Mulch aids in moisture retention, weed control, and temperature regulation.
- Approximately one to two inches of water per week should be given to the plants.
- When the leaves start to turn yellow, apply compost tea or organic fertilizer to the foliage every two to three weeks or so.
- Side shoots will grow more quickly if earth is pushed up around the stems of the plants as they grow.
Cultivars to Select
Broccolini is a trademarked term that is distributed mostly to commercial producers, thus finding a source might be difficult. Other names for ‘Broccolini’ cultivars exist, even though there is only one recognized ‘Broccolini’
Broccoli that is described as tenderstem, sprouting or baby is a good bet.
A trademarked hybrid known as “Broccolini” might be difficult to obtain seeds for, as it is mostly sold for commercial use.
In addition to being highly productive, this type is also delicious from top to bottom, and its flavor and texture are both beautifully sweet.
This early-season crop produces a lot of tiny flowers. After each harvest, new shoots emerge, allowing for a total of two to three harvests every month.
Raw or cooked, the soft shoots make a delicious side dish.
Depending on your preference, Burpee sells either 50 seeds or 12 live plants that are ready for transplantation.
To get the most out of this prolific and simple to cultivate variety, plant it in the fall.
On salads, in veggie trays, roasted, sauteed, or steamed, enjoy the sweet and earthy flavor.
Burpee sells 12 live plants of ‘Montebello,’ which you can add to your garden.
Purple sprouting broccoli variety ‘Burgundy’ adds additional vibrancy to any dish. These purple flowers contrast with pale green stems, making this a really distinctive hybrid.
Take a bite right out of the plant with these tender branches!
For a reasonable price, you may receive a dozen live plants from Burpee, ready to go in your vegetable garden.
Managing Pests and Disease
Like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, this hybrid is susceptible to many of the same health issues.
Make sure you avoid planting in the same place where previous years’ brassicas have grown. To prevent the spread of illness, broccolini should be grown in a separate area from other cole crops.
With a few basic measures, it is possible to keep pests at bay in broccolini crops.
Insects with delicate bodies that feed on tree sap and leaves. There is nothing they like more than seeing new growth.
Many aphids can be found on the underside of leaves. Curled, stunted, or yellowed leaves is a sign that something is wrong. Aphids leave behind a sticky “honeydew” that attracts other bugs and encourages mold growth.
To get rid of the leaves, use the hose to give them a good washing.
Biodegradable dish soap mixed with water and garlic may also be used to make an insecticidal spray. Let a quart of water immerse two garlic bulbs overnight after crushing or blending the bulbs. Add a teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap to the strained mixture.
Brassica caterpillars are little green caterpillars that may eat through the leaves of brassica plants, causing a lot of damage. The more they eat, the bigger they get and the more harm they do, so it’s best to capture them early.
Try using food-grade diatomaceous earth on and around plants that are showing signs of caterpillar infestation.
Treat the little green eggs and silky cocoons that emerge on stems or the undersides of leaves with diatomaceous earth to prevent the larvae from hatching.
Floating row covers can also be used to keep moths away from your plants so they don’t deposit their eggs there.
It is possible for these tiny jumping insects to puncture the leaves. White eggs can also be found in the soil or at the base of plants.
Severe infestations can wreak havoc on crops and spread to other areas of the garden in a matter of days.
Floating row coverings around early seedlings can be quite useful if flea beetles are a problem for you.
Alternatively, you can use diatomaceous earth or neem oil to treat afflicted crops.
They deposit eggs near the base of young plants and feed on the roots, causing the plants to rot and occasionally die.
Stubborn growth, fading leaves with occasional yellow or blue foliage, and damaged roots are all signs that something is wrong.
Removing and destroying infested plants is the first step in eradicating an infestation.
In damp conditions, these slithering, soft-bodied insects are more likely to appear. They are capable of eating big holes in leaves and wreaking havoc on plants in a matter of days. Find out how to keep slugs and snails away from your crops by reading this.
If you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, you can try picking slugs by hand or burying glasses of cheap beer about your garden beds. The beer will draw the slugs, who will then drown in the cups.
Spraying the soil with garlic oil or laying uncoated copper around the plants can also serve as a deterrent. Here, you may find more information about slug control in cole crops.
Floating row covers and food-grade diatomaceous earth can be used to lessen the likelihood of issues in your crops.
Reduce the risk of re-infestation by rotating crops on a regular basis.
Be on the watch for disease symptoms and take preventative steps like weeding periodically to decrease plant crowding and prevent an excessive buildup of water.
This widespread fungus, which causes dark patches on the leaves of cole family crops, is frequently encountered. It is widespread in warm and moist climates and can survive in the soil and plant detritus.
Remove affected plants and plant detritus at the end of the season to prevent the spread of this fungus, which spreads easily and has no effective treatment.
Reduce the risk of infection by mulching, trimming seedlings, weeding, and letting leaves dry completely between waterings.
As the illness progresses, leaf veins darken and wilt, eventually causing the foliage to die. It thrives in humid, warm environments, and is particularly frequent in overcrowding gardens.
Because black rot is so difficult to treat, the best course of action is to avoid it in the first place. Crops should be grown in well-draining soils, rotated frequently to avoid overwatering, and any sick plants should be removed and destroyed.
When the leaves are wet, this disease causes yellow or brown patches to appear on the leaves, which are covered with white mold. Leaf loss and stunting are possible side effects. Plants infected with downy mildew should be destroyed or removed.
By weeding and thinning to prevent overcrowding and enhance airflow, you can reduce the danger of infection.
Watering in the morning will allow the foliage to dry out during the sweltering summer heat, reducing the risk of mold.
The process of harvesting broccolini involves a few phases.
It’s best to start harvesting as soon as you see the main heads forming, but before they’ve began to divide into individual blooms.
It’s important that the leaves are a brilliant green color. It is important to harvest as soon as possible to prevent the heads from wilting and losing flavor.
First, remove around 6 inches of stem from the crown.
Side shoots will grow more quickly if the core stem is removed. Although the main stem is delicious, it is the side shoots that will provide the bulk of the year’s crop.
You can cut each stem above a set of green leaves once side branches form. Cut close to the base of the stem, but leave one set of leaves in place to encourage new shoots to form.
Multiple crops of florets are likely if the leaves are still green and vivid after the shoots are removed. Each plant has the potential to provide 3 to 5 harvests if you’re lucky.
Freezing broccolini is a simple and convenient method of preserving the vegetable. After harvest, rinse the shoots to remove any debris and then cut them into bite-sized pieces.
The next step is to blanch the meat by submerging it for one to two minutes in hot water. Remove the pieces from the water and immediately submerge them in ice water to halt the cooking process. Alternatively, Drain them after soaking for a few minutes in icy water.
Before freezing, drain them completely.
To keep the pieces from sticking together, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for at least two hours. Pack them into freezer-safe bags or airtight containers once they’ve been frozen for long-term preservation.
Remove a handful from the freezer and toss it into your stir fry or steamer when you’re ready to cook!
It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week in a sealed plastic bag for shorter-term storage. Wait to wash it until you’re ready to use it to extend the shelf life.
Recipes and Cooking Ideas
In addition to its versatility in the kitchen, broccolini’s tenderness and crunchiness make it an excellent raw ingredient.
Sweet and earthy flavors permeate the greens, soft stalks, and crunchy florets. Even though the stalks seem like asparagus, they are more like a milder variety of broccoli and don’t require peeling.
Tossed with a dip, grilled or sautéed in any way is an excellent way to enjoy this veggie.
Broccolini stir-fried with butter, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice is a favorite of mine.
You can find the recipe on our sister site Foodal, which incorporates grilled tomato and broccolini with a spicy ginger-balsamic dressing. Broccolini provides a chewy sweetness to the dish, which is balanced by the sweetness of the tomatoes. Warm or cold, this salad is sure to please!
Quick Reference Growing Guide
Put a Twist on Broccoli
Tender, delectable harvest will be well worth your wait, even if it takes a few seasons of experimenting to get it just perfect.
For a change of pace this season, why not plant some young, hip broccolini?
Have you ever attempted to grow broccoli in your own backyard? What advise would you like to give? Don’t forget to tell us what growth zone you’re in when you leave a remark below.