Brassica oleracea var. italica (Broccoli) Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (Calabrese)
Broccoli and Calabrese, both part of the Brassica family, are cool-season crops that grow best in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. They require consistent moisture and good air circulation.
Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date for spring planting. For a fall harvest, sow seeds in mid to late summer. Transplant seedlings outdoors when they have 4-6 true leaves and after the last frost.
Space plants 18-24 inches apart in rows 24-36 inches apart. Apply a balanced fertilizer at planting and again when plants are halfway grown. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching helps retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
For more detailed cultivation tips and variety selection, refer to our comprehensive broccoli and calabrese grow guide.
Diseases, Insects, and Weeds
Common pests include cabbage loopers, aphids, and flea beetles. Employ row covers for young plants and organic or chemical pest controls if necessary. Diseases like clubroot and downy mildew can be prevented with crop rotation and proper spacing.
For broccoli, harvest when the central head is fully developed but before the flowers open. Cut the stem at a slant, about 5-6 inches below the head. For calabrese, which forms smaller heads, harvest regularly to encourage continued production.
Storage and Preservation
Broccoli and calabrese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, blanch the florets for 3-5 minutes, cool them quickly in ice water, drain, and freeze. They can also be pickled or incorporated into canned dishes.