You know that fear / recurring nightmare? The one where your boss or boyfriend or way-cooler-than-you-colleague asks to borrow your laptop for a quick search, and you can’t say no but you can’t clear your search history without them seeing you do it? And you know that when they type in the first few letters of their oh-so-normal / oh-so-intelligent and/or artistic Google search that auto-fill is going to give away that you’ve been searching online for photos of …. broccoli.
Okay. So it’s not porn. Unless, like some of us, growing and eating your own grub becomes a kind of obsession of the late-night reading sort. Not to worry. I took the hit and Googled “the history of broccoli” for you. And since Princeton.edu was one of the first results, I now feel no shame, even though it links back to that plebeian Website, Wikipedia.
Carefully cultivated and a favorite in the Roman Empire and then Italy, broccoli made its way to England via Antwerp in the mid-18th century, and then headed to America by way of Italian immigrants. It’s renown as a healthy food that parents everywhere can admonish their kids to finish is backed up by science: A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C. But it’s better to eat raw or steam lightly, as broccoli loses its cancer-fighting super-powers like sulforaphane after mere minutes of boiling: 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes.
If you live in a warm climate and grow a quick-growing broccoli like Calabrese, you could plant today and harvest into November, for food-porn-friendly crudité platters at all your fall parties!
- Choose a sunny spot to plant, and make sure to work in compost or manure approximately four inches down into your dirt.
- Broccoli loves cool weather, so for those of us in Southern California, now is the time to plant! If you live in colder climates, wait awhile, make a note in your calendar, and plant two to three weeks before your last projected frost for spring broccoli.
- The Farmer’s Almanac suggests planting your seeds ½ inch deep, or planting transplants a bit deeper than what they were growing in.
- Space your broccoli plants one foot to 24 inches apart, fertilize after three weeks, and water regularly. Especially in a drought (oh heeeey, California).
- Harvest your delectable Brassica oleracea in the morning. Harvesting broccoli can be tricky: unlike a pepper or tomato, it doesn’t announce it is ready to pluck by its color. As Erica over at Northwest Edible Life puts it: “If broccoli is given enough time, it will grow a big afro of yellow flowers. …You are trying to let the head grow as big as possible without going over and into the flowering stage, when it turns tough and bitter. “ To get more details on how to harvest according to size (6-7 inches is a respectable head of broccoli), check out her Website, here. And if you see that yellow flower, pick immediately!
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year – sweaters, boots, indoor parties with a fireplace roaring. If you’re hosting or heading to a party, take your garden-grown broccoli out for a spin: Click here for a little food porn on ways to make your crudité platter look its best. I promise, the site is safe for work / search engine history.
(Photo Credit: Grow It Organically)