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About Waltham 29 Broccoli: The heirloom broccoli variety Waltham 29 is named for Waltham, MA, where researchers at the University of Massachusetts developed it in 1950. However, the plant from which modern broccoli is derived first grew in the wild in the Mediterranean region and in Asia Minor. Broccoli gradually spread to the rest of Europe and to the New World, where Thomas Jefferson included this strange new vegetable in his experimental garden. The Italians appreciated it so much that it got the name "Italian asparagus." After World War I, Italian brothers Stefano and Andrea D'Arrigo brought their Sicilian variety of broccoli and began growing it in San Jose, Calfornia; they later shipped it to Boston's North End, where it established a quickly expanding market.

Waltham 29 Broccoli Germination: Broccoli 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. For companion planting benefits, plant broccoli with herbs, potatoes, or onions; avoid planting it with tomatoes or pole beans.

Growing Waltham 29 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. If they become topheavy as they grow, provide a stake for support.

Harvesting Waltham 29 Broccoli: Harvest the main head while it is still tight, and before the tiny buds begin to open; cut at least 6" of the stem. Side shoots will continue to develop along the stem, and can be harvested as well; the plant will keep producing as long as weather conditions are favorable.

Saving Waltham 29 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 Waltham 29 Broccoli Info: Brassica oleracea. Annual. 85 days. 6700 seeds an oz. 18-24" height. 24-30" spacing. These bluish green heads grow 4-8" in diameter.

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