How & when to harvest broccoli rabe?

bonjoeyMay 25, 2007

I just started my first vegetable garden. My broccoli rabe is starting to flower, but the plants seem underdeveloped, at least compared to what I'm used to seeing at the grocer's, etc. Anyway, at what point is it best to actually harvest the plant? Should I only harvest the parts that are showing flowers, or should I just harvest them all, regardless of the extent of the bud formation? Also, exactly how do I harvest? Do I pick off leaves or just cut off the plant at the bottom of the stalk? Can I expect to get more growth this season? Sorry for all the questions, but I really want to do it the right way from the get-go. Thanks.


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" Pick the greens after the florets form but before the florets begin to open. Cut the plants at the ground level, or where the stem begins to get thick and toughen. If you harvest correctly, and the weather remains cool, you can expect a second and possibly third cutting from each plant.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 1:38PM
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Dear Bonjoey: Sounds like you're having the same trouble I had. If your New Jersey spring was as cold as my Long Island spring, the raab plants got confused and began to flower (set seed) before the plants had a chance to grow. When they begin flowering when only inches high they are goners. I pulled mine out and replaced them with other things. Meanwhile I started some new seed for later planting.

Dear Violet: Ordinarily, when my raab plants reach full growth (2-3 feet high) that's when the florets begin forming, all over the plant. I pick them just before they begin to open up, picking daily until the florets become too small to bother with. This can go on for two to three weeks until the plants run out of gas and I replace them with new plants waiting in the wings. You suggest cutting them back at their bases. I'm here to learn. Please explain further.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:47PM
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Two suggestions are above, the way you do it and cutting from the base. It's up to you which method you choose.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:58PM
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I still don't get it, Violet. What happens when you cut the plant at the base? Does it start a whole new plant at the base line, or does it just send out new shoots with florets at the tips?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Hi there, I am a bit confused too. Do we cut the entire plant, and does another plant grow back? Is the entire plant eatable? Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 7:32PM
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Would you like to share it with me what kind of broccoli raab you grow, how to prepare the soil, how far to space the seed and when is the best time to sow.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 7:57AM
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Dear luong, I'm late with my reply because I hadn't visited this site since my last posting. I hope that this reaches you.

I start my raab in small containers, cell packs when I expect to use the plants early, and 4-inch pots when I expect to nurse them along for awhile. Then when the time is ripe they go straight into the ground about 2 1/2 to 3-feet apart. I don't select any particular type of raab, but settle for whatever is in stock at the nursery. When the plants grow large and heavy I stake them to keep them upright. I plant them in early spring and again when the plants run out of steam, in early summer.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 6:56PM
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It has already opened yellow blossoms! So it is no good? No part of it is now edible? Can I let it go to seed and use the seeds? When? My daughter planted it in my raised planters and didn't really now what it was supposed to look like or exactly what it was!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 10:26AM
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