How to Grow Broccoli – Broccoli is a healthy green member from the cabbage family and is closely associated with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. Best grown in the spring and fall, broccoli is a cool-season crop that loves sunny conditions. When planted under appropriate conditions, it is observed to give two main harvests, followed by several mini harvests every growing season. But have you ever tried to grow broccoli in your garden or asked your fellow gardening enthusiasts how to grow broccoli?
Here’s a comprehensive guide to walking you through how to plant, grow, and harvest broccoli in your vegetable garden with some care tips.
Broccoli is a favourite vegetable to plant among gardeners and it is essential to get to know everything about how to grow broccoli before taking the plunge and start planting as the most common mistakes can be easily avoided and essential tips and tricks can be taken aboard.
- 1 Where to Plant
- 2 When to Plant Broccoli
- 3 How to Plant Broccoli
- 4 How to Grow Broccoli – Maintenance and Care
- 5 Harvesting Broccoli
- 6 How to Grow Broccoli – Common Problems and Pests
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions About How to Grow Broccoli
Where to Plant
Broccoli grows best in soils that have sound exposure to sunlight. It is recommended that when choosing the planting site for growing broccoli, you choose one that receives around 6-8 hours of full sun exposure. The soil condition should be slightly acidic with a pH that ranges from 6.0 – 6.8. Moreover, if you ask how to grow broccoli best, you will learn that the soil must be well-drained with high moisture retention quality and rich in organic matter.
Fertile soil with ample organic matter ensures a readily available supply of essential nutrients for healthy growth. Boron is one such micro-nutrient essential for broccoli. Any signs of deficiency in boron leads to a hollow formation of broccoli stems.
Another requirement for broccoli plantation is that of spacing between the plants. It is suggested that when planting in raised beds, each broccoli plant is equally spaced at a distance of 16 – 18 inches. If you are gardening in rows, ensure that the transplants are 18 – 22 inches apart within each row while the distance between each row should range between 24- 36 inches.
When to Plant Broccoli
The ideal planting time for broccoli is either early spring or late summer, making it a cool-season crop. It is recommended that the broccoli plantation should be ready for harvesting before temperatures hit 75 degrees Fahrenheit and above. The aim is to prevent high summer temperatures from stunting the growth of broccoli by allowing it to mature early.
In areas that experience mild winters, broccoli seeds can be started indoors in late summer months and later own as autumn approaches, you can set them in the garden. This will prepare the crop ready for harvesting in winters. Extreme weather conditions cause broccoli to seed affecting the formation of heads and florets. For regions that have cold weather conditions with short seasons, broccoli must be started in summer for harvesting in fall.
How to Plant Broccoli
A good how to grow broccoli guide also needs to go into how to plant broccoli. Planting broccoli is comparatively simple than most other vegetables.
If you plan to start outdoors, sow seeds at a depth of ½ inches with each seedling at least 3 inches apart. As soon as the seedlings reach a height of 3 inches, you will have to start the process of thinning them as this will allow the plants to be 15 – 20 inches apart. Similarly, if you have started the seeds indoors, then plant these transplants that are 4- 6 weeks old and have a few leaves (at least 4 – 5).
These transplants should be at a distance of 12 – 20 inches and depth slightly deeper than the height of their original container. Also, make sure that you plant seeds and transplants at the same time for a continued harvest, mid-season varieties can also be planted together.
How to Grow Broccoli – Watering
Watering the broccoli plantation regularly is crucial. Keep track of your watering cycle as broccoli grows best in a moist and well-nourished soil. You should also work in mulch to help control weeds as well as retain soil moisture at all times.
How to Grow Broccoli – Maintenance and Care
It is important to take care of the broccoli plant to facilitate growth.
- Water and feeding cycles must be followed strictly. Keep the soil moist at all times during the growing season. Broccoli plants must be watered at the base of the plant, water at least 1 to 1 ½ inch regularly. You must provide consistent soil moisture, especially in areas with severe drought conditions.
- And then gradually reduce the water supply as plants begin to mature. As the broccoli plants mature, it is essential to keep the ground moist and not soggy. Mulch application can also help in moisture retention while keeping the ground cool as the temperature gets hot. It, therefore, helps in keeping the soil temperature to a desirable temperature for a nourished growth.
- Additionally, in the maturation phase, the plants can be side dressed by giving a boost of vegetable fertilizers. Spread the fertilizer across the stems without touching them. This will increase the flow of nutrients while improving moisture retention.
- Broccoli plants need high amounts of nitrogen or blood meal to nurture growth. If the soil is low on nitrogen, the leaves might run pale yellow, and this will gradually affect the entire plant.
- Fertilize broccoli every three weeks after you have transplanted the seeds in the garden. Low nitrogen fertilizer is a favorite pick.
- Keep mulch ready and suffocate weeds using a generous amount of mulch.
- To minimize pests, you must use row covers.
- Make use of a garden trowel occasionally to loosen the soil as it will help in the removal of weeds that tend to harbor pests.
- Good air circulation in a well-drained soil makes it healthy, and that, in turn, makes it less susceptible to pest attacks and diseases.
These maintenance care tips should give you a good indication what how to grow broccoli consists of.
For amateur gardeners or first-time growers, it might be a tedious task to figure out the ideal harvesting time for most green vegetables, especially ones that fall in the Brassica oleracea family. There won’t be any immediate colour transition to signal that the plant is ready to be harvested.
The broccoli plants are set for the first harvest when you notice the heads have been formed. The diameter of these heads will usually fall in a range of 4-7 inches. The recommended time to harvest is early morning as the bud heads are observed to be tight and firm. However, if you notice any yellow leaves around the plant, you must harvest immediately because there are chances that the taste and quality might be on the verge of depletion.
The right way to harvest is to make an angular cut through the heads of each plant. This will allow excess water to drain away, preventing the heads from rotting away. It will also nurture side-shoot production for successive harvests.
Get a detailed overview of harvesting broccoli the right way at Gardening Know How.
How to Grow Broccoli – Common Problems and Pests
Pest problems in broccoli are similar to that of cabbage. These range from cabbage worms to cabbage root maggot to aphids. In the initial phase of the planting season, these pests are seriously troublesome. While diseases include black rot and clubroot. One popular and effective way to disease control is the timely practice of crop rotation.
- Aphids – If you notice the leaves shrinking with curling at the edges, then you should know that it is being attacked by aphids. To get rid of this insect, apply soap water to the leaves.
- Club Root – It is a commonly found infection in the plants from the Brassicaceae family. It is a fungal infection that penetrates the roots causing them to swell up and distort, leading to stunted growth. Clubroot tends to affect the soil when its moist and warm. To prevent clubroot attacks, maintain the soil pH, and make sure the soil is drained at all times.
- Cabbage loopers – These are small caterpillars that eat away leaves, leaving behind holes. If you notice any such small holes on the leaves, look under the leaves for the green caterpillar. You can use bacterial pesticides to control cabbage loopers. But if there are only a few loopers, you should handpick them instead. You can also make use of row covers after you plant the seedlings and take it off when the harvesting time is there.
- Down Mildew – Yellow-colored patches on the leaves are a result of moist weather conditions. Make sure that you keep the leaves dry with constant air circulation.
- Blackleg- It is a common fungal disease that leaves broccoli encircled in a clustered and causes the soil to rot. The common sources of blackleg are cutworms and cabbage maggots. This disease can be tackled by the removal of infected plants and ensuring the garden has a debris-free ground. You should also add organic matter to planting beds while keeping the soil bed well-drained at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Grow Broccoli
What type of soil does broccoli need?
Broccoli plants require a rich yet well-drained soil. You mix a few inches of well well-aged or compost in the soil, before planting. A balanced fertilizer will also enrich the soil with essential nutrients. Lastly, the soil pH is the key to grow pleasant-tasting broccoli. The ideal pH of the soil must be between 6.0 – 6.8.
How should I take care of my broccoli plant?
Broccoli is considered to be a heavy feeding plant and thus requires timely fertilization. So, ensure that you work in rich compost or well-aged manure at the height of 2-4 inches before planting commences. This will give the soil the nourishment it needs to grow. The next important tip is to water the plant at regular intervals to maintain healthy moisture levels.
To prevent pests and other diseases, it is stressed that you plant broccoli in areas where you haven’t grown any vegetables from the cabbage family for the last 3-4 years. This concept is generally referred to as crop rotation. And crop rotation in broccoli plants is a must.
When is the best time to harvest broccoli plants?
When the harvesting season approaches, it is important that you closely observe the colour of florets. They should be deep green, and that is when you must harvest. For the best quality and pleasant flavour, harvest broccoli heads as the buds start to swell. However, do so before the petals start turning yellow.
How long does it take for broccoli to grow?
Broccoli that is grown using seeds will harvest after 100 days, it can also take up to 150 days. With transplants, it will come to harvest after 50 days. Give the soil all essential requirements and healthy growing conditions for the broccoli to harvest on time.
How can we store broccoli after harvesting?
Wash the broccoli thoroughly and leave it to dry completely. Once it is dry, you can store it in the refrigerator. Broccoli can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days. However, if you wish to store it for long, blanch it in hot water and freeze in an airtight container, it will then last for one year.
Broccoli is crowned as one of the most prominent nutritional vegetables when it comes to greens. This powerhouse is home to essential minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fibers that are beneficial to human health. It not only controls the development of cancerous cells, but the antioxidant properties help in the prevention of several other medical conditions.
This low-calorie vegetable with a slightly bitter taste profile may not be popular amongst all, but it sure holds a rich nutritional value. So, follow the basic broccoli growing guide and plant the best-tasting broccoli in your vegetable garden.
Broccoli is delicious and healthy to eat. It is not a surprise that many gardeners want to know how to grow broccoli. We hope this guide helped to clarify the most important points and is inspiring you to plant broccoli in your garden yourself. Or if you already have broccoli planted, this how to grow broccoli article is hopefully a good treasure trove with tips and tricks that you can consult. Happy gardening everyone!
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.