Unlike true broccoli, broccoli raab (aka rapini) can be direct-seeded in the garden as soon as the soil is workable in spring, or in late summer for fall harvest. Give your plants full sun, and well-draining soil amended with compost, ideally with a pH of 6 to 7. Sow seeds ½-inch deep and 2 to 4 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart, then thin seedlings to 6 inches apart once they’ve developed their first true leaves (and eat the thinnings in salads - they’re tasty!) Plants will reach maturity at about 55 days from seeding. Make sure to harvest shoots before the flower buds begin to open.
Plants of the species Brassica rapa, including mustard greens, broccoli raab, many asian greens, and turnips, are insect-pollinated biennials. They typically need to be separated from other Brassica rapa varieties by one-half mile to prevent crossing and ensure pure seed. Like all biennials, they require a cold period (called vernalization) followed by warmer weather to trigger flowering. The vernalization period of most B. rapa plants tends to be short, so plants of this type will typically go to seed in the same year when planted early in spring. Their flower stalks can get very tall and may need staking as they grow. Harvest the seeds by cutting whole flower stalks once two-thirds of the seed pods have started to turn brown. Bring the plants inside to finish drying, preferably by hanging over tarps or inside paper bags to catch seeds as the pods ripen and open up. Once the stalks are dry, finish separating the seeds from the pods by crushing the stalks on top of a tarp or hitting the stalks against the inside of a clean trash can. Then winnow the chaff out by pouring seed and chaff from one container to another in front of a box fan running at low speed. Store your clean B. rapa seeds in a sealed container in a dark, dry and cool location.