Broccoli Varieties - What's the Difference?

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There are several different broccoli varieties available to the backyard vegetable gardener. These varieties vary in color, size and texture. We encourage you to try a couple of different varieties to find out which on is your favorite. In addition, if you like to eat fresh broccoli, try to choose varieties that mature at different times. This way, you extend the harvest time and don't end up dealing with a whole bunch of broccoli all at once. We try and grow varieties that mature in 50, 55, 60 and 75 days. If you do this and spread the planting time out over a period of 7-10 days, it allows you to have a continuous supply of fresh broccoli for a few weeks.

Here's some broccoli seeds if you're interested...

When choosing a broccoli variety, think about what you want to use it for.  Some varieties are just better suited to eating fresh.  Other varieties are good for freezing.  Also, pay special attention to how long the variety you choose takes to mature.  If you live in a warmer climate, you may want to choose a faster maturing variety that will be ready for harvest before the hot weather sets in.  Broccoli plants don't mind cool temps and they can handle a light frost.  If you want to try a longer-maturing variety, consider growing it in the fall.  Also think about varieties that produce extra side shoots after you harvest the main head.  These varieties give you a bigger bang for your buck and you'll often end up with a larger harvest over a longer period of time if you choose these varieties.

Most broccoli varieties produce about the same-sized plants.  Some grow a bit taller than others, but for the most part, they are all about the same diameter.  You can plan on growing 1 broccoli plant per 1 foot of row space.

Most broccoli seed packets contain about 1 gram of seeds, which is about 300+ seeds.  In most cases, you'll only use a small fraction of this number.  Plan on sowing twice as many seeds as you think you'll need.  So, if you want to grow 12 broccoli plants, plan on sowing approximately 25 seeds.  This will ensure good germination rates and you'll end up with more than enough seedlings.  The remainder of the seeds that you didn't use can be store in the seed packet in a jar in your fridge - they will last until at least the next year.

We are often asked about our favority broccoli variety to grow.  We typically grow a couple of different varieties every year.  We usually grow faster-growing varieties in the spring, and then longer-maturing varieties in the fall.  We like FlashGreen Goliath and Calabrese for our spring crop, and Waltham 29 for our fall crop.

Here is a list of some of the more common varieties available from seed catalogs and local garden centers.

Please keep in mind that the "number of days to harvest" is counted after the broccoli seedling has been transplanted in your garden.

Chopped Broccoli
  • Coronado Crown - this broccoli variety features large dome-shaped heads and very tender stems, blueish-green color, good heat tolerance, ready in 60 days

  • Green Magic - this variety tolerates heat very well, uniform greenish-blue heads freeze well, ready in 60 days, good choice for fall broccoli crop, plants reach 2 feet tall

  • Flash - this early variety is ready in 50 days, good resistance to heat and diseases, somewhat sweet flavor, heads are green in color and average-sized, plant reaches 2 feet tall

  • Calabrese - this heirloom variety is often sold as certified organic, ready in 60 days, large dark green heads, lots of side shoots, classic broccoli taste

Head Of Broccoli
  • Bonanza - this variety features large heads that average 9" in diameter, ready in 55 days, lots of side shoots, good mild flavor, freezes well
  • George's Favorite - this variety is ready in 60 days, large stocky heads are dark green in color, good hybrid variety that is disease resistant
  • Green Goliath - this variety features blue-green heads, ready in 55 days, lots of side shoots, mild flavor, freezes well, bred specifically for the home gardener
  • Waltham 29 - this heirloom variety is ready in 75 days, 4-8 inch green heads, produces side shoots, good flavor
  • Early Purple - this broccoli variety features small purple heads, heirloom variety from the U.K., ready in 60 days
  • Rapini - a non-heading variety that produces shoots with small green tops and tender leaves, great eaten raw in salads or lightly sauteed, ready in 60 days, Italian heirloom

  • Broccoli Plant

    Click here to learn about planting broccoli

    Click here to learn about fertilizing and watering broccoli plants

    Click here to learn about harvesting broccoli

    Click here for some of our favorite broccoli recipes

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