About Early Fall Rapini Broccoli: Historians say that this vegetable comes from ancient China, where it grew wild and was used as an herb. In spite of its appearance and it's common name of "broccoli raab," this vegetable is no relation of broccoli; rather, it comes from the turnip family. Traditional Italian and Mediterranean cuisine often include rapini.
Early Fall Rapini Broccoli Germination: Rapini grows best in cool weather, so starting the seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before the last expected frost will ensure a faster crop. Shortly before the last frost and when the seedlings reach about 6" tall, plant them 1-2' apart in rows 2-3' apart. For direct sowing seeds, plant them 1" deep and 3" apart in full sun and rich soil, about 2-3 weeks before the last expected spring frost; germination can take place at temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. For fall planting, direct sow the seeds in late July or August.
Growing Early Fall Rapini Broccoli Seeds: Keep the young plants watered and remove weeds. Mulch helps discourage weeds and regulate soil temperature, and several applications of fertilizer or compost may also be needed. If several nights of below freezing temperatures are expected, cover the plants.
Harvesting Early Fall Rapini Broccoli: Harvest the plants before the buds begin to flower, at about 10-15" tall; many side heads will have formed, no larger than the size of a small coin. Cut the plant off at ground level, or at the point where the stem becomes tough. For best taste, use immediately.
Saving Early Fall Rapini Broccoli Seeds: Allowing broccoli to produce seed will take an entire growing season, and may require digging up the plants for the winter or mulching them well. Broccoli will cross pollinate with other members of the cabbage family such as cauliflower, and isolation of at least 1/4 a mile is recommended to prevent cross breeding. Once the flowers have bloomed and produced seed pods, let them dry and carefully remove them from the plant. Separate the seeds from the pods. Store in a dry, cool place for up to five years.
Detailed Early Fall Rapini Broccoli Info: Brassica ruvo. Also known as Broccoli Raab, Broccoli Rabe, Brocoletti, Cima di Rapa. Annual. 45 days. 11800 seeds an oz. 18-24" height. 24-30" spacing. The heads grow about 1" in diameter.