Planting Guide and Seed Saving Notes for Broccoli Raab
Broccoli Raab (Brassica Rapa)
While a different species than broccoli, broccoli raab produces small florets that have a similar flavor to it. Typically, the florets, stems, and some surrounding leaves are harvested and cooked together. Broccoli Raab is tasty, and often easier to grow than full heading broccoli.
How to Start Broccoli Raab from Seed
Broccoli Raab is a moderately frost tolerant biennial that prefers full sun, although it will tolerate light shade. Plant broccoli Raab in well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. Avoid applying too much nitrogen which can lead to hollow stems.
Moderate frost-tolerant. Start 4 weeks indoors before danger of last frost and transplant in spring and late summer in evenly moist soil and full sun or direct seed after danger of last frost. Plant Seeds: 1/2" deep with 2-4" between seeds in rows 12-18" apart. Soil Temp: 50-80 F. Days to Sprout: 4-10. Thin To/Mature Plant Spacing: 12" Companions: beets, carrots, lettuce, onion, spinach, nasturtium, cilantro, dill. Antagonists: beans, tomatoes and strawberries.
Harvest the florets, stems, and leaves.
How to save Broccoli Raab Seeds
Broccoli Raab needs milder winter conditions in order to flower. Isolate seed plants from other Brassica rapa that may be in flower at the same time. Do not harvest the heads of your seed plants, although one method is to cut the central head and let the side shoots go to seed. Most broccoli raab plants are self-sterile. Plant at least 6 different plants to protect vigor and ensure a reasonable amount of genetic diversity. Seed stalks are 4" long and produce a lovely yellow flower. Allow individual pods to dry to a light brown color before picking and opening by hand. Lower pods dry first followed by those progressively higher on the plant. Smash unopened pods in cloth bag with mallet or by walking on them. Winnow chaff and dry.