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Do It Yourself

Broccoli Is Crop of Fall Greenery

November 14, 1998|Help Line U.C. MASTER GARDENERS

Question: How do I grow broccoli in a home garden? What pests bother it?

J.D., Westminster

Answer: Plant broccoli in fall--now is the best time--in full sun in soil that drains well and is rich in organic matter.

Set transplants 15 to 24 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. From seed, it often works well to start in small containers and wait until the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall before transplanting into the garden.

Once established, broccoli plants should be kept moist but not soggy. Feed monthly with a well-balanced fertilizer, according to package directions.

Harvest broccoli florets before the flower buds open, or they'll become bitter. Broccoli matures in 60 to 90 days, depending on the variety.

If the main stem is cut first, side shoots will grow, and they are edible too, although they won't grow as large as the first crop.

The most common pests to bother broccoli are aphids and cabbage loopers. Aphids can be controlled by a strong stream of water or insecticidal soap or a biological control. Cabbage looper caterpillars can be controlled by hand-picking, Bacillus thuringiensis or a biological agent recommended by a CCN professional at your nursery.

Good, disease-resistant varieties for Orange County include Green Comet, Premium Crop and Emperor.

Have a problem in your yard? University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners are here to help. These trained and certified horticultural volunteers are dedicated to extending research-based, scientifically accurate information to the public about home horticulture and pest management. They are involved with a variety of outreach programs, including the UCCE Master Garden hotline, which provides answers to specific questions. You can reach the hotline at (714) 708-1646 or send e-mail to ucmastergardenersyahoo.com. Calls and e-mail are picked up daily and are generally returned within two to three days.

A UCCE Master Garden training course begins in January. Applications are being accepted. Call or e-mail the hotline for information.

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