Rapini

(Question)

Hello,

I want to plant rapini in my home garden but can’t seem to find too much information about companion planting and crop rotation for this vegetable. I think rapini is from the same family as broccoli. Do the same rules apply for broccoli as for rapini?

Appreciate your help.

(Answer)

You are correct that rapini is part of the Brassicaceae family, although Brassica rapa Ruvo Group, as it is also known, is actually a turnip that does not form an underground root.  While it grows the same as sprouting broccoli, its leaves are similar to turnip greens.

Rapini is best grown in cool weather in full sun to partial shade with humus rich well drained soil having a pH of 6 to 7.  Plant 10 to 12 seeds per 30 centimetres, five millimetres deep in rows 45 to 60 centimetres apart. It is recommended to protect the seeds with a floating row cover as soon as they are planted to help guard against insect problems.  Keep the soil moist and once the seedlings are 2.5 to 5 centimetres tall, thin to 15 centimetres apart.

Seeds can also be started indoors in average room temperatures by sowing two or three seeds per cell pack, again keeping the soil moist during germination. As soon as they sprout, move seedlings to a cool area of about 10°C and place under grow lights or in front of a sunny window. Before transplanting outside be sure to harden seedlings off by gradually exposing them to direct sun and cooler temperatures.

Good companions for rapini are tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, chard, celery,  potatoes, beets, carrots, and spinach. To avoid the pests and diseases that affect brassicas, rotate your crops so that they are not in the same soil for at least four years.

Harvest plants before buds open when the plants are approximately 25 to 38 cm. Cut the plants at the ground level, leaving the lower two leaves intact which may lead them to resprout several times.

For a list of recommended varieties to try, visit http://www.canadiangardening.com/gardens/fruit-and-vegetable-gardening/how-to-raise-rapini/a/1884/3