Deitrich’s Wild Broccoli Raab
Directors of the Experimental Farm Network selected this exciting plant from the feral leaf turnips growing at the Deitrichs' farm in Salem County. They assume the plants escaped from an Italian farmer generations ago. Similar plants grow across the southern New Jersey region, but the plants at the Deitrichs' farm had already been informally selected by Chris & Sandy for years when EFN founders Nate Kleinman & Dusty Hinz took over selection. It's known locally as "wild broccoli raab", and some folks eat it every day it's in season -- and its season starts many weeks before anything else, often growing through snow. It's delicious raw or cooked (and especially good in scrambled eggs or just sauteed in some olive oil). Thanks to the Deitrichs' wise stewardship of their land -- eschewing herbicides, leaving lots of land unmowed -- and love for this plant in particular, a strong population thrives in their corner of southern New Jersey. These seeds come from the most productive, earliest plants, selected in an effort to re-domesticate it with all of its best wild properties intact. That process will continue, but for now we're happy to offer you this gem. This variety carries the Open Source Seed Initiative Pledge.
Days to maturity: See planting and harvesting notes below
Seeds per pack: 200
Planting / harvesting notes
Scatter seeds haphazardly 2-4 inches apart in a prepared block of soil to your liking. No thinning necessary. The soil does not have to be perfectly prepared: this is wild seed that competes in hay fields with wild grasses. Give them a good initial watering and that should be enough to get them going. A biennial, it is best planted in late Spring, but can be planted well into late Summer and still provide excellent "raabs" the following Spring. Use the leaves as a cooking green before winter. Raabs are the tender green flower spikes they start shooting up the following spring. In South Jersey, they start producing mid March. Colder climates could expect the raabs to begin 2-4 weeks later; warmer places 2-4 weeks earlier. Come back and cut more raabs every 3-7 days. If you want to "re-wild" your own patch, stop cutting the raabs after a few harvests and let the plant go to seed.
Seed keeping notes
Isolate by 1/2 mile from other flowering members of B. rapa, including turnips, napa cabbage, and bok choy to avoid unwanted cross-pollination. Allow seed pods to turn brown and dry before seed harvest. Protect from birds.