How To Grow: Broccoli

Grow broccoli – it is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can grow and eat.

They are part of the cruciferous vegetable family and are relatively simple to grow. They are most popular in colder climates with a short harvest season as they thrive off colder weather.

Add delicious broccoli to your garden and enjoy the healthy, fresh, crisp, green broccoli to your garden and reap the benefits!  

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Details for Growing Broccoli

Planting Months

Cooler months, best in Fall 

Harvest Months

3-4 months from planting 

Temperature to Plant

40-70 F 

Planting Depth

Inch deep

Spacing

18 to 24 inches apart with 36 inches between rows 

Sunlight

6 +

Direction

North to south

Drainage

Soil should be well-drained, yet moist

pH Level

6.0-7.0

Companion Plants

Celery, leeks, potatoes, shallots, garlic 

Health Benefits

High in calcium; Vitamin K, A and C; Zinc and phosphorus 

Seven Steps to Growing Broccoli

7 steps to growing 2

As broccoli can thrive in any fertile soil, the soil you use isn’t so important. As long as the soil is well-drained yet moist and high in organic matter, you should see your broccoli thrive.

The texture should be somewhere between clay loam and sandy loam, with a pH balance between 6.0 and 7.0, as broccoli prefers a slightly acidic base.  

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Soil pH Testing 

You need to make sure that you accurately test your soil to give your plants the best chance. This Apera kit has ±0.1 pH accuracy, see the star ratings over at Amazon.

Broccoli is one of the more natural vegetables to grow from seed. If you live somewhere colder, it is best to start growing your broccoli in seedling trays. However, if you live somewhere warmer, then you can plant your seeds straight into the garden. You should begin seeding your indoor broccoli 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.

Outdoors

For outdoor seeds, you can plant in early Spring, or as soon as the ground is workable.  Broccoli seeds shouldn’t be planted too deep as the seeds are so small, so it is suggested to plant only an inch to add inch deep if planting directly into the garden.

Ensure if you are planting in seeding trays, that you are using a seed mix that is dense in nutrients. To keep it simple, only plant one seed per cell. You can gently press the seed into the soil and then cover it lightly with more soil. Water from the bottom so as not to disturb the soil, then cover your seeds with a lid to prevent drying. 

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Germination

The best way to germinate your seeds so that they have a great start is with a germination kit. Seeds that are grown this way produce greater results. Check the specs of the MXIC over at Amazon.

Germinating in Soil

Germinating takes about 5-10 days, depending on how warm the climate is. Inspect the soil daily to ensure it isn’t too dry or too wet. Make sure your broccoli is getting a lot of light – either from the sun itself or from a seedling grow light. Once the seedlings have their first leaves (about 5 to 6 weeks), it is time to transplant.

Make sure you harden off your broccoli seeds gradually about 4-7 days before transplanting. Start with 2-3 hours of sun and slowly build up until the transplant day. 

Broccoli needs a steady supply of water to grow, so it’s essential to water your broccoli plants regularly. It is best to use about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, including rainwater. To achieve this, you will need to water deeply about two to three times a week, moistening the soil to about six inches.

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Broccoli needs a steady supply of water to grow, so it’s essential to water your broccoli plants regularly. It is best to use about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, including rainwater. To achieve this, you will need to water deeply about two to three times a week, moistening the soil to about six inches.

Ensure when watering that you do not get the heads of the growing broccoli wet. 

Broccoli can attract quite a lot of bugs but are relatively treatable. Some bugs to look out for include aphids cabbage loopers and cabbage worms.

A sign of aphids could be curling leaves, which suggests that aphids are siphoning the sap. If you see them, they are easy to get rid of – apply soapy water wherever they are present. 

If you see small holes in the leaves, it could indicate the presence of cabbage loopers, or caterpillars. You can remove cabbage loopers manually or with a natural bacterial pesticide. Cabbage worms are similar and can be treated in the same way.  

Diseases

Diseases are also an issue for broccoli. Look out for yellow patches on leaves which may be affected by downy mildew. To prevent mold, keep the leaves dry and ensure quality air circulation. If only the bottom of the leaves turns yellow, you could have a case of nitrogen deficiency. To manage this, you can apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. 

Fertilize

As a rule of thumb, broccoli should be fertilized about three weeks after planting in the garden. If weeds occur, you can cover them with mulch to impede their growth. Mulch also helps to keep the temperature of the soil down, which encourages the health and growth of the broccoli plant. 

Coverings

Cover the plants with netting to avoid the chance White Butterfly laying eggs and spoiling your crop.  A net of an inch squared will also prevent birds from taking from the newly formed florets.

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You will know when your broccoli is ready to be harvested when the heads are sizeable and firm. Do not allow your broccoli to flower, and if it does, then collect straight away. It is recommended to harvest in the morning while the heads are still cool.

Cutting the Broccoli Heads

To harvest, cut the heads away from the plant with about 6 inches of stem. You may notice see side-shoots develop after the main head has been harvested, and you can also harvest these when they are ready. 

Storing broccoli is simple – you need to wash and dry thoroughly and then put in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can freeze broccoli also, though ensure it is blanched first. Broccoli can be frozen for up to a year.

Dehydrating

One of the issues people have is that their crops produce all at once. The best way to overcome this is with a dehydrator so you can store your food for years and the flavor is amazing. The best one on the market is the Excalibur with a 10 year guarantee, see it at Amazon.

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