Monday, January 24, 2011

Growing Broccoli in Kihei

Mahalo Julie for the seeds!

In October of 2010 I planted broccoli for the first time. Surprisingly, all of the broccoli survived the challenging warmer than usual weather and produced flower-heads.
Just beginning to flower.
I planted Piracicaba, Purple Peacock and Umpqua. Piracicaba was the earliest, Purple Peacock was the most beautiful and Umpqua looked most similar to the broccoli at the market.
Piracicaba was developed in Brasil to be heat tolerant and is often grown in California during the summer months.

Purple Peacock
Purple Peacock is not a hybrid but was developed by Gathering Together Farm by crossing a purple kale with a traditional broccoli. It's sweet, tender and delicious raw.
In Kihei, it normally takes 3 months from seed until broccoli forms the center flower-head.

A traditional heirloom broccoli.
Solstice Broccoli
It was a bit tricky to figure out just the right time to cut the heads before they began to bolt and form tiny yellow flowers. I recommend checking the plants early every morning when the flower-heads begin to form.

Purple Peacock Side-Shoots

The Piracicaba and Purple Peacock don't form a large traditional flower-head. After their center flower is harvested they produce an abundance of side-shoots.

In Kihei, the best time to plant broccoli from seed is from mid-October to mid-November so the flower-heads will form during our coolest winter months.

Protected from cabbageworms.

Like the other brassicas, the most serious pest was the cabbageworm - it's a good idea to protect the plants from late November through February or until the main flower-head is harvested.

The Purple Peacock and Umpqua grow aroundt 2 ft tall and can easily be protected by a row cover. The Piracicaba was over 3 ft and I covered it with a tulle net. For more information, see my post on Cabbageworms.
I kept the broccoli plants covered until they produced their first flower-heads. Then, I let them grow uncovered while they produced side-shoots.

Brassicas grow very well in 15 gallon self-watering containers and they can also be grown successfully in regular containers.  I fill the container with an organic potting soil amended with green sand and an organic all-purpose fertilizer.
In Kihei, broccoli usually requires daily water and twice-monthly applications of fish emulsion or a generous monthly application of an organic all-purpose fertilizer.
There are a wide assortment of broccoli seeds available, including many F1 hybrids. The varieties featured in this post were grown from open pollinated seeds.
Piracicaba seeds are available from
Purple Peacock seeds are available from
Umpqua is available from


  1. It must be a real challenge to grow these cool weather crops where you live. We had a very hot spring last year and I had issues with many of mine.

  2. The purple peacock reminds me of the Rainbow Lacinato Kale that is just finishing now. Same breeder, maybe same gene pool? I just planted the purple peacock seeds you shared with me, they were 8 days old today ; )

    Last summer we actually got a little tired of broccoli. After trying the Sesame Garlic Cured Broccoli recipe from Melissa Clarke's new book i don't think that will happen again. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

  3. Hi Robin! It's so frustrating when the weather patterns change. It's a miracle I have any broccoli this winter. These types of weather changes do allow you to find out what seeds are the hardiest.

    Hi Julie! I just love the purple peacock! It's a small delicate plant but it produced a nice head and a decent amount of side shoots so far. I'll have to grow the rainbow lacinato next winter. Wild Garden has a number of very unique seeds. I'd love the recipe - it sounds ono!

  4. Aloha Jane! Beautiful broccolli! Here in Mililani, the nights and mornings have been cool but noontime has been really hot. So impressed with your beautiful veggies! Corliss

  5. Hi Corliss! Mahalo for your compliments! The cooler night time temps make a huge difference as I'm finding out this year.

  6. Such pretty broccoli. I have yet to grow really good broccoli. I should be able to since we have good weather for it but something usually happens. Small crops I get, but never really good ones.

  7. Hi Daphne! I was surprised I could grow any broccoli especially through this winter. The purple peacock was my favorite. It wasn't as early as the piracicaba but I loved everything about it.

  8. Your crops look great! It must be nice harvesting them.

  9. Hi fer! Mahalo for the compliment!

  10. do I snip the eaten leaves or let them go. I think it's lizards. not geckos. I do not see worm.

    1. If the leaves are being eaten it could be cabbage worms. If it's lace like holes it's most likely rose beetles. Lizards and geckos eat bugs.