Green Magic Broccoli

The weather is finally starting to feel a little more like fall, or maybe I am trying to convince myself that 89-degree temperatures are fall weather in Texas.  The shorter daylight hours are making a difference in the weather, and I am ready to enjoy some fall vegetables.

I always enjoy planting salad greens and lettuce in the fall, and this year I am looking forward to the results of a broccoli trial in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden.  A couple of our Master Gardeners will be attending an Advanced Training Class in Texas Superstar plants, and they are getting a head start on the class by planting Texas Superstar Green Magic Broccoli.

Texas Superstar plants are researched by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension all over the state to see how well they perform in the various growing conditions of Texas.  You can find more information about these plants at  Vegetables that receive the Texas Superstar designation are always impressive to me because they must be tough to do well from far West Texas to East Texas and the Texas Panhandle down to the Gulf Coast.

Broccoli is a fun crop to grow in the fall, and it can be planted again in the early spring for another crop.  Transplants are available at local nurseries now, and they can be planted through the end of October.  Green Magic is a Texas Superstar variety that we recommend, but you can also try Green Comet, Premium Crop, or Southern Comet varieties.

Plant broccoli with 18-24 inches between plants and 36 inches between rows.  Give your broccoli plenty of space to spread out to encourage larger heads of broccoli and side sprouts.  Crowded broccoli will be smaller.  Keep the soil moist but not soaked.  Mulch around the plants will help regulate soil temperatures and reduce the need for water.  Fertilize at planting time and then about four weeks later.

Keep an eye out for aphids, harlequin bugs, and cabbage loopers.  Aphids will feed on the bottom of the leaves and will suck juices from the plant leaves.  Aphids can be washed off with a good stream of water.  Harlequin bugs also suck juices from plant leaves.  Cabbage loopers are small green caterpillars that chew holes in the leaves.  Check the bottom of the leaves for cabbage loopers, too.  You can pick these off and drop them in a bucket of soapy water or use Bt.  

Broccoli needs 55 to 85 days to grow, depending on the variety.  Cut the center heads when the very first flower shows a light-yellow color.  You can leave the side stalks to continue growing for an additional harvest.

Check the Williamson County Master Gardener Facebook page for updates on the broccoli plants!  For more lawn and garden information, contact Kate Whitney, Williamson AgriLife Horticulturist, at 512-943-3300.

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