De Cicco Broccoli
50-60 days. We have been growing De Cicco for 13 years because it is one of the best open-pollinated varieties of heading broccoli. Italian in origin, De Cicco was brought to the US in 1890. It's perfect for gardeners because after producing the main broccoli head, it will produce a continuous supply of side shoots for the rest of the growing season. De cicco has a delightfully sweet broccoli flavor. Allow the side shoots to flower and you can eat them as broccoli raab (flowering tops). In the fall, broccoli leaves can be harvested and eaten like kale. Broccoli is best cooked quickly; soften the stems but don’t let the florets get mushy. Sauté it Asian style with garlic and soy sauce. Slathered in hollandaise sauce, broccoli becomes palatable to any child. HM[[end tab]] [[start tab]]
Growing Instructions (for USDA Zone 5b):
Start broccoli seeds indoors April 1st at 77°. Days to germination: 5-8. Don’t let plants become potbound in their pots. Transplant outside May 1st, 18” apart. Or, sow broccoli seeds directly outside May 1st. Sow 3-4 seeds together in a group ½” deep, spaced 18” between groups. Keep seeds evenly moist until germination. Thin to the strongest plant in each group. Broccoli plants needs consistent water throughout the growing season. Protect broccoli plants from deer, groundhogs, and rabbits which will devour them. Broccoli plants may be eaten by European Cabbageworm (which is the caterpillar of the small white butterfly that flits around the garden). If they cause significant damage, hand remove caterpillars or spray organic BT.
Broccoli heads are the immature flower shoot. Harvest heads while still tight. If harvested regularly, De Cicco will produce a continuous supply of smaller shoots through the season.
Seed Saving Instructions (for gardeners):
Broccoli is difficult to save seed from. It is in the Brassica family so it is insect pollinated and cross-pollinated. It also suffers from inbreeding depression if you don’t save seeds from enough plants. Broccoli will cross with any Brassica oleracea that are flowering at the same time (kale, collards, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower). Isolation distance: ½ mile. Minimum population size: 10-50 plants. To harvest seed, allow plants to flower and collect seed when mature.[[end tab]]