Tips for homegrown broccoli and radish
Time to Plant Broccoli:
Broccoli is part of the Brassica family and is a wonderful vegetable to grow in the cooler parts of the year. Harvest the centre head with a slanting cut to shed water and allow the outer side shoots to grow to a good size before harvesting; this makes broccoli a great cut-and-come-again crop. The most common variety that we all recognise is the Calabrese broccoli, which produces a single large flower head that is picked green just before it blooms. Summer Green will stand the hot weather better than other varieties while Shogun Winter Harvest prefers cooler temperatures. Waltham gives more amounts of broccoli over a longer period than most and Romanesco has a lighter green colour and more unusual shaped heads. The increasingly popular broccolini is a cross between Chinese kale and broccoli and gives smaller, longer heads instead of one large central one.
When to sow: From late November to March in most areas; in subtropical areas you can plant almost all year round.
Spacing: Plant broccoli every 45–60cm in rows 45–60cm apart.
Depth of planting: Sow seeds in position 6mm deep.
For best supply: Sow about 10 plants every four to six weeks throughout the season for the average family.
Time from planting till harvest: Harvest broccoli in 11–16 weeks.
Organic Pest Control
Organic gardeners are often worried by caterpillars munching on their brassicas but there’s no need to be overly concerned. As long as enough leaf is left to allow for photosynthesis to occur, your broccoli will be OK. The caterpillars rarely eat the broccoli heads themselves and tend to disappear by the time the heads are well formed. The best method of organic pest control is to inspect and remove caterpillars daily or, if time doesn’t allow, you could try sprinkling the broccoli’s leaves with a little cayenne pepper or try planting yellow marigolds somewhere nearby and the moths will hopefully lay their eggs on those instead of your crop of broccoli. Remember, too, that you can get rid of any nasty insects by simply submerging your picked broccoli for a few minutes in a sink filled with salted water then rinse with clean water.
The value of presidential endorsement
A presidential endorsement is always a good thing, but ex-president George Bush (Snr) angered American broccoli farmers when on March 22, 1990, he said, “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” Broccoli consumption plummeted by 15 per cent under his presidency. When the Clintons succeeded him into the White House and Hilary announced broccoli would be back on the White House menu, broccoli sales increased by 50 per cent the following year.
Tips: If growing broccoli as a cut-and-come-again crop, be sure to feed regularly with an organic fertiliser. A handful of Dynamic Lifter every three to four weeks will do wonders, or try a weak solution of manure tea or water with the water produced from a worm farm. Time to Plant Radish:
Radishes are one of the fastestgrowing crops in the home vegie garden and will grow for most of the year in most climates. They like a sandy loam soil with a pH of 6.5–7. They belong to the brassica family, too, along with cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower, but unlike them they are known as root plant. In fact, every part of this vegetable can be eaten, though the root or tuber is more commonly used as a garnish or in salads for its unique red and white colouring and mild peppery flavour. The foliage may be used in salads, too. Radishes are a good source of vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, copper and calcium and are rich in folic acid and potassium. They are excellent for helping to clear sinuses and for sore throats. Radishes appear to have positive effects for asthma sufferers and are a good longlasting energy food. It’s possible to sow, grow and eat radishes in the same month; in fact, picking and tasting one of your radishes after four weeks is actually the best way to judge whether they are ready for salads. Left in the ground too long, some radishes can become too hot or bitter for some people’s taste and using this method once a week will allow you to know exactly when they are ready to harvest. Succession planting every two to three weeks during the growing season will give you a continuous supply of radishes.
When to sow: From September to March in cold areas, September to May in temperate locations and all year round in subtropical and tropical areas. They germinate in 3–5 days.
Spacing: Plant radishes 5cm apart in rows 15cm apart.
Depth of planting: Sow seeds 5mm deep.
Time from planting till harvest: 4–8 weeks.
Radishes come in four main shapes — globe (round), oval, rectangular and long — and are mostly red with white flesh although White Box is a completely white globe variety and White Icicle is a long, white radish. Other globe radishes include Scarlet Globe, Red Prince and Gentle Giant. Mars Improved is an oval example while Red Baron, French Breakfast and Inca are rectangular versions. Another type of radish is the daikon, which is Japanese for “large root”. It can be either a globe or a long radish that’s white in colour and usually has a milder flavour than other radishes
Tips: Although radishes need sun to develop, in the extreme heat of summer they will benefit from growing in partial shade to avoid wilting and drying out too quickly. They can be attacked by aphids and are also a favourite of the white cabbage butterfly, so keep an eye out for these pests during their growth and treat with an organic pest spray. Wilting leaves is a sign of root maggot feasting on the radish and tiny pinholes in the leaves indicate leaf beetle. In both cases, the best form of control is rotation of the crop each season.