Want to learn how to grow broccoli rabe? You've come to the right place! Also known as broccoli raab, rapa, rapini, taitcat, and Italian turnip, this vegetable is as easy to grow as it is delicious! Although most people think the broccoli rabe plant is just another type of broccoli, it's in fact not really related to broccoli at all, but rather more related to turnips and mustards.
This bitter tasting vegetable is widely used in most parts of Italy, but seldom used in other parts of the world. Contrary to popular belief though, broccoli rabe can be quite delicious in salads and sautees!
If you already have a vegetable garden, growing broccoli rabe makes for a great plant companion! Growing broccoli rabe in containers is also a good idea as it can save you space and also deter pests and weeds.
The broccoli rabe plant should be planted in early spring when all danger of frost has passed. Choose a site with full sun and protection from strong winds. If growing broccoli rabe in containers, be sure your pots or containers have good drainage as well as well draining soil.
How to Grow Broccoli Rabe in Your Garden
Planting Broccoli Rabe:
- Seeds are planted directly into the soil, with each being spaced about 4 inches apart.
- Thin the seedlings to 4-6 inches apart once to leave some space.
- Plant the seeds in the spring right after the last danger of frost.
- These vegetables prefer both shade and sun, so plan to plant in an area that receives half sun.
- Water regularly like you would turnips and mustard greens.
- Harvest right before the flower buds grow.
- Leave broccoli rabe any longer can result in a bad harvest that may be extremely bitter and almost inedible.
- Depending on the variety of broccoli rabe you're growing, it can be planted and harvested at different types.
- Follow the directions on your seed labels to see when to plant and when to harvest.
Broccoli Rabe Care:
- Water regularly, letting the soil dry in between watering.
- Pull out any weeds, and do not plant next to turnips or mustards, as they can cross pollinate (unless that's what you're looking for!).
Broccoli Rabe Harvest:
- Harvest the broccoli rabe plant as soon as buds appear on the plant.
- At this point, the broccoli rabe should be 1-2 feet tall.
- Harvest by cutting the stem 5-6 inches under the bud. Use a pair of gardening shears to do this.
- The shoots, stems, and leaves are all edible.
- After the cut, the plant will grow another smaller, more tender shoot which you'll be able to harvest later on in the season.
So now that you know how to grow broccoli rabe, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!
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