The wind smells sweet, snow is just a memory, and the ground is soft but not soggy. It must be time to bring the vegetable garden to life. This spring, along with their favorite radishes, lettuce, and peas, gardeners have a new cool-weather variety to try—the broccoli hybrid ‘Blue Wind’ (Brassica oleracea ‘Blue Wind’). According to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, which introduced this broccoli to the market, ‘Blue Wind’ is a Packman-type hybrid, meaning it’s great for an early crop. ‘Blue Wind’ matures in just 49 days, so you can sow it in spring or early summer (or both). The blue-green heads are medium-sized.
Common name: Broccoli
Botanical name: Brassica oleracea ‘Blue Wind’
Plant type: Vegetable
Height: About 2 feet
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Well-drained and rich in organic matter
• Moisture: Medium. Water is especially important early on and when the heads are maturing.
• Mulch: Mulch to retain soil moisture.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.
• By seed.
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to cutworms, cabbageworms, aphids, and flea beetles.
• Susceptible to powdery mildew, white rust, clubroot, and other diseases.
• Allow each broccoli plant plenty of space—about 2 feet apart is best.
• Harvest broccoli when the buds feel a bit loose but haven’t yet started to turn yellow.
• After you harvest a head of broccoli, soak it in warm water with a splash of white vinegar to get rid of tiny bugs that may be hiding among the buds.
All in the family
• The Brassicaceae family contains about 3,700 species; the genus Brassica about 30 species. Other garden vegetables in the family include cabbage, radishes, horseradish, and watercress. The common flowers alyssum and candytuft also belong to the cabbage family.
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of ‘Blue Wind’ broccoli courtesy of National Garden Bureau).