Broccoli – I Grow The Plant For Its Antioxidant Health Benefits
Oh my! My broccoli in the garden was a HUGE success! I’m not sure what I did right, because I really didn’t do much of anything. I grew some as an experiment – to see how well it would grow in part of a raised garden bed.
Why I Grow It
First, I simply like the taste! Yum.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
But even better are the many health benefits from eating broccoli. It’s one of several veggies that we eat quite regularly – for their health benefits.
Broccoli is a nutrition rich robust source of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and minerals.
It is the main reason why I consume it. For human health. It is extra special good in this department.
The Apparent Antioxidant Content Benefits
Broccoli has high levels of glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion.
Test-tube and animal studies indicate that sulforaphane may offer multiple health benefits, including reduced blood sugar, cholesterol levels, oxidative stress and chronic disease development.
Broccoli also contains measurable amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage in your eyes. These powerful antioxidants defend your body against unstable molecules called free radicals.
In excess, free radicals can damage your cells, contribute to aging and lead to the progression of diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (1), (2).~ healthline.com
May Contribute To Reduced Inflammation
Broccoli May Protect Against Certain Types of Cancer
May Support Heart Health in a Variety of Ways
It May Slow Mental Decline and Support Healthy Brain Function
May Help Slow the Aging Process
Vitamin C Content Supports a Healthy Immune System
There are many reputable online sources to support the statements listed above. The bottom line is broccoli is a nutrient-packed vegetable that may enhance your health in a variety of ways.
So, I decided to grow some of my own… Here are some of my broccoli plants when they were ‘young’. Already looking impressive!
After further development, something started to eat the leaves. We did find some green (worms?) or caterpillar looking crawly things on the leaves. We just kept picking them off. They seemed to go away. Whatever was chewing holes in the broccoli leaves did not cause enough damage to affect the growth. Fortunately! And, we never sprayed or treated the plants.
By the way, the stalks (and leaves) of broccoli plants are incredibly strong and hardy. Thick. Sturdy. They are quite an impressive plant! And they get pretty big. I did grow them years ago while living in another place, and do recall how big they got after awhile. This time around I planted them too close together. But it did not seem to adversely affect the outcome!
Look at the large size of these heads!
Take a look at the following delicious head of florets! I have been harvesting every day lately. So, eating broccoli with every evening meal! The best way to cook broccoli? Steam them!
How We Cook Broccoli The Best Way
First, Chop Chop!
It’s simple! To preserve the most nutrition and flavor, I steam my broccoli. For 25 minutes.
We recently replaced our older worn-out steamer with a new one. I really like this one! It takes up a small footprint on the counter while yielding 5 quarts of yummy goodness. Check out this mouth-watering result…
[ Read: Grow Your Own Garlic – Just Plant The Cloves – Here’s how-to do it]
Those green “worms” grow pretty large if left alone and can destroy broccoli and other brassicas. I pick them off too, organic is good. Love the photos. I do have a question, how can you harvest seed from the plants?
Regarding harvesting broccoli seeds:
First, I found this pertinent quote:
“Before saving seeds from your broccoli, you’ll want to find an open-pollinated variety (“OP”) you like, and not a hybrid (“F1”). Many broccoli cultivars are hybrids, which sometimes grow faster, but will give you mixed results if you save seeds from them. Some of the resulting plants may look nothing like what you started with.”
Information gleaned from various posts around the internet:
Next, You just let one of the broccoli’s bolt. The florets will open up / flower / bolt.
Once the blooms have been pollinated, the petals will drop, and wispy tendrils will take their place.
At first, the tendrils will be thin and immature. No seeds are present at this stage, and it may take several weeks to a few months before the pods develop and fill out, ready for collection.
As the pods mature, or “cure,” the plant will start to die off and turn yellow or brown. The pods will become visibly plumper, similar to small bean pods, when the seeds have formed inside.
Once the plant has died off and the stalks and pods appear brown, it’s time to harvest.
When the plant has died off, it’s easiest to snip off the stalks with garden shears and bring them indoors to process. Allow the pods to completely dry out before processing.
Start with a clean storage tote or plastic tray. Break the pods off of the stalks, being careful to hold the pods over the tote or tray to collect any seeds that fall out.
Once the pods have been broken off the stalks, press and roll each one between your thumb and finger, splitting the pods and freeing the seeds inside.
Broccoli seeds are extremely small.
Good info from Ken. I would add, broccoli will cross pollinate with others in the brassica family, which is a lot of things. Seed saving will be very important for all to learn, as it’s likely the PTSB (powers that shouldn’t be) will cut off access to seeds if they’re really trying to starve us out. The best resource out there, considered the bible of seed saving, is Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. Covers absolutely everything about saving seed from all kinds of plants, including veggies, herbs, flowers, and shrubs/trees.
The stalks and leaves from broccoli and really any other similar plant are good for soups, a nice cream of broccoli soup for instance, or mix a bunch of stuff like carrot peels and ends and even tops with stems and leaves from stuff like broccoli and cauliflower or cabbage and all of the onion or garlic and cook it down into a broth,
A friend of mine jokingly calls that vegetable bone broth,,,
Worms may be cabbage looper, a white butterfly, larva. You will see small white eggs underneath the leaves. Smush em. Nice crop! add butter and salt
Lovely broccoli indeed ! And yes those green worms. We soak ours in saltwater before steaming the heads. This will cause those green worms to dislodge and float to the surface of the saltwater. However, if I miss some, well… a little protein never hurt anybody. Right??
Also, you can buy raised net covers to put over the plants. The covers allow the sun and rain in but keep the white moth that lays it’s eggs on the leaves (future green worms) out.
Yes we love some broccoli.
Thanks for the tip about the garden netting! Next year! There’s always next year… (found some ultra fine mesh on amzn)
Theres a company called American Netting that sells bug and hail net, really fine mesh, is quite effective. Something to consider though with row covers and nets is pollination, you may need to pull back your covers to allow pollinators in, they have found that moths are also pollinators so something to think about.
Thanks for promoting the consumption of broccoli Ken. I still have relatives that grow it in Cali.
There is a recipe for what is called: “Crack Broccoli” on internet cooking sites. I posted it once a while ago. It is roasted broccoli but the “dressing” it was coated with pre-roasting used olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, ranch dressing powder, parmesan cheese and slivered almonds. Roasted in an oven or on a BBQ 425 degrees for 25 minutes.
I am not a vegetarian butt I find myself cooking for vegetarians or children that do not like vegetables. If you find yourself with a bumper crop and a finicky eater, this recipe may help. This recipe has been forwarded to parents of finicky eaters and they report good results.
Nice Broccoli Ken,
Mine died in the heat we had. Almost everything died. Just got burned. Beans ok, zucchini crazy and onions did very well.
I like to put some butter in a fry pan. Let it melt and add Broccoli. Let sizzle until brown and crusty, don’t mess with it, about 3 to 4 min. Shake pan, turn off heat and cover for 2 to 3 min. Mmmm mmm
Even the picky grandboy will scarf it down. Not mushy, still has some crunch. Copied Cali’s recipe for next time. Sounds great!!
Ken, did you note which broccoli you grew? Name of seed? It looks amazing!
The recipe for Crack Broccoli:
2.5 lbs of broccoli florets
The dressing:1/3 cup clear filtered olive oil
Zest from 1 lemon
4 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp ranch dressing mix powder
10 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and let sit for 30 min to 1 hr for flavors to blend. Add the cut washed and dried broccoli florets and coat the broccoli. Spread on greased cookie sheet or non stick foil in even layer. Place in preheated oven or covered BBQ at temp setting of 425 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn over broccoli and sprinkle on slivered almonds and parmesan cheese and return to oven for additional 10 minutes.
This recipe is popular among parents of finicky children.
Good stuff KJ
The whole plant is good for eating, stems n all,,,
Cream of broccoli soup made from the stem
Ken could you pass on what the name of that broccoli seed and perhaps where you bought it Please?
They were the ‘Diplomat’ variety. Was a last minute thought during the Spring, so I bought the ready-made starts at a local nursery.
On the tag: “A great broccoli for cooler climates and shorter summers. Expect uniform, large heads to be dark green and dense.”
They are F1 so maybe not the best for seed-saving.
Don’t forget those big stalks! They are more nutritious and are extremely tasty. Just cut off the outer fibrous part and slice them into sticks. You will need those sharp knives you just sharpened in your other article. You will find them great raw. Tender and juicy snack while preparing your dinner, or cook with the other broccoli heads.
I use a potato peeler to remove the outer layers on the broccoli, especially when the skin is tough. Then slice & dice them up for dinner preparation. I prefer the peeler that is shaped like a sling shot or Y design easier to grip.
The timing of this article made me laugh. First, I have never successfully grown broccoli. Second, I am in the process of dehydrating 2 cases of frozen broccoli from 2016 or before. I think it was 2014, but I’m not sure.
Just wanted to say broccoli grows like crazy up here in north Idaho. I plant the seeds directly into my garden around the first of may, or earlier, weather permitting. I think I planted one called Blue Wind, but don’t hold me on that. Anyway, I have heads about 9 inches across right now, and they are still growing. However, we have another heat wave coming this week, and I’m afraid I’ll have to cut them. We blanch and freeze our broccoli, and usually have enough for most of the winter. After I cut the main head, there is usually enough time left in the season for the plants to put on plenty of side shoots, which we eat as they come on.
There is an organic pesticide for the cabbage worms that I have used for years successfully. It is sold as “Dipel” and it comes in a liquid concentrate. I mix it with a little Dawn which helps it adhere to the leaves. It’s actually a bacteria that only affects the worms when they eat it, bacillus thuringiensis. You can spray it on harvest day and it is totally safe to ingest. Just make sure to re-spray after a rain. Stuff works great!
Thanks for the tip!