By Penny Ossowski
To my boys Broccoli was always more palatable as 'green trees', to me it is one of my favourite vegetables and so versatile whether eaten raw, boiled, steamed, micro waved, stir-fried, souped or as a juice.
The early origins of Broccoli vary, but most certainly it came from the Mediterranean area, with it being first mentioned in French History 1560.
There are three main types of Broccoli, sprouting, calabrese, and romanesco. Calabrese is most familiar because of its large heads and thick stalks. Calabrese is the main type we usually see in the Fruit Shops and growing in home gardens. This variety was developed in Calabria, a province in Italy. The sprouting broccoli has smaller flowering heads and many thinner stalks. The romanesco is distinguished by its yellowish-green multiple heads. Though most shops sell mainly green broccoli, we are starting to see some purple and white broccoli appearing, these closely resemble cauliflower in appearance and are easily confused.
To grow Broccoli the soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Plant seeds from February or March, (depending on your area) in a seed tray and plant out when about
10 cm tall. Broccoli grow better in the cooler months as they have more pest problems and grow more straggly in the hotter months. The main pest which attacks Broccoli in the Brisbane area is the green cabbage caterpillar. The easiest way to remove these is with your fingers then squash with your boot. These caterpillars are the result of the eggs laid by the white cabbage moth. Spray with molasses spray as it helps deter chewing insects like caterpillars and grasshoppers.
Nutritionally, Broccoli is one of the most nutritious of all vegetables, containing complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, calcium, iron, and fibre. On top of all that it has plenty of cancer-fighting properties. It is not only loaded with antioxidants, such as beta carotene, folic acid, and lutein, its high fibre helps to prevent cholesterol. It also has anti-ulcer and antiviral properties; Broccoli also helps regulate blood sugar and insulin. 125 grams raw Broccoli has about 33 calories. Across the nutrition scale, broccoli contains all the nutrients mentioned.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1 teaspoon of pure soap (Sunlight) in 1 litre of warm water. Spray as required.
Eden Seeds carries seeds for home gardeners. Broccoli seed can be ordered online for Australia wide distribution. Consider buying Heirloom Broccoli varieties, they are our food heritage.