Broccoli is one of the healthiest and nutrient-rich vegetables. We love having this healthy vegetable as a side to many of our main course. Broccoli is also an important ingredient in many salads. It can be eaten fresh, stir-fried, or in a pasta or soup. Whatever way you decide to eat the vegetable, you can get its nutrients which are very healthy for your body.
Additionally, growing broccoli is not that difficult. When I first started out on growing broccoli, I was sure that it would be a difficult vegetable to cultivate. However, growing it is simple and easy. All you need to do is take care of a few important things and you will be able to cultivate and harvest broccoli easily.
Here is everything you need to know about how you can plant broccoli and harvest it easily.
Everything You Need to Know about Broccoli
Broccoli is a hardy plant grown in the cool season. The botanical name of broccoli is Brassica Oleracea. It is a biennial that grows to around 18-36 inches in length. The broccoli plant has a thick main stalk and thick, broad leaves. It is a sun-loving plant that grows well in the spring or fall. It is incredibly healthy and is often called the ‘crown jewel of nutrition’.
Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family. It is a close relative of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, head cabbage, collards, and bok choy. It grows in the same season as kale and beets. If planted the proper way, it can yield one to two main harvests. You can also expect multiple mini-harvests each growing season.
The broccoli plant is grown for its immature flower heads. This makes it different from is leafy cabbage cousins. The key to growing perfect broccoli is to let the plant develop healthy and full flower heads but harvest it before they lose flavor after maturation.
There are many different varieties of broccoli that one can choose to plant in their vegetable garden. You can choose the famous large-headed variety or choose to cultivate Broccoli Raab. You may also choose the varieties that sprout or simply opt for Broccoli Romanesco. Whichever variety you choose for your garden, the basics of cultivating and harvesting them remain the same.
Broccoli is worth growing for its nutritional content. It is rich in minerals and vitamins. In addition to this, the plant is also a great source of folic acid, Vitamin A, iron, fiber, and potassium. Here is everything you need to know about growing broccoli.
When to Plant Broccoli
As mentioned before, broccoli is a cool-season plant. It should be planted in late summer or early spring. Its growth may be stunted by high temperatures of mid-summer. Therefore, it is important to get your broccoli mature either before or after there are high temperatures expected in the area.
Broccoli seeds can germinate in soil temperatures of as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit (https://todayshomeowner.com/how-to-grow-broccoli-in-your-vegetable-garden/). However, the germination process speeds up when the soil is warmer. If you are planting your broccoli in spring, then you can start the seeds outdoors or indoors a few weeks before the last frost date of the season. For indoor planting, start seeds 6-8 weeks prior to the last frost and for outdoor sowing, start the seeds 2-3 weeks before the date.
If you are planting the seeds in fall, then start your seeds 85-100 days before the date of the first frost. The temperature of the soil and the ambiance are high during these times which can be helpful for the development of seeds. You may also start the seeds in late May.
Planting Site Preparation
Choose a site that gets sun exposure of at least 6-8 hours each day. Broccoli needs sunlight to grow properly. Otherwise, you will only get thin and leggy plants with subpar broccoli heads. It should be planted in a bed of fertile and moist soil. Broccoli plants prefer well-draining soil. Make sure that the pH level of the soil is between 6 and 7. Broccoli grows well in slightly acidic soil (https://www.thespruce.com/growing-broccoli-plants-in-the-vegetable-garden-1403457). You can increase the fertility of the soil by working in 2-4 inches of a layer of compost into the soil. A thin layer of manure may also do the trick.
If you are starting the seeds outdoors, sow them about 1/2 inch deep and about 3 inches apart. If starting the seeds indoors, you can plant broccoli transplants outdoors 4-6 weeks later. Make sure that each plant is 12-20 inches apart from the other. Rows of broccoli plants should be 3 feet apart. Water your plants well.
Caring for Broccoli Plants
- Broccoli plant grows well in temperatures between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit
- Broccoli should be fertilized three weeks after the seedlings are transplanted into the garden. Always use a fertilizer with low-nitrogen content when using for the broccoli plant
- Plants should be thinned when they reach 2-3 inches in height (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ablBMuFOVMk&feature=youtu.be)
- Broccoli needs regular watering and moist soil, especially in dry conditions. Water the plants 1-11/2 inches each week
- Wetting broccoli heads while watering can encourage rot. Therefore, avoid getting water on them
- Make use of row covers to keep your plants safe from pests
- Add blood meal if the leaves start turning yellow
Pests and Diseases
Broccoli plants may face the following pests and diseases
- Cabbage loopers
- Cabbage root maggots
- Cabbage worms
- Downy mildew
- White rust
- Nitrogen deficiency
Broccoli should be harvested in the morning. Cut broccoli heads from the plants. Make sure that you also cut about 6 inches of the stem too. Make a slanting cut on the stem to ensure that water slides away from the plant (https://harvesttotable.com/how_to_grow_broccoli/).
You can store fresh broccoli in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make sure that it is dry before you put it in the refrigerator. You can also blanch broccoli and store it int he freezer for up to a year.
Is Broccoli easy to grow?
Yes, broccoli is an easy plant to grow. Refer to the information given above to learn how you can plant and harvest broccoli easily.
How much broccoli do you get from one plant?
Broccoli plants can be harvested two to three times for a period of up to 3 months. Once the main crop is cut, the plant continues to produce smaller heads for several weeks.
Growing broccoli is not as difficult as we think. Seeing broccoli growing in your vegetable garden is such a relaxing sight. In this article, you learned all about broccoli growing and planting. Here is a recap:
- Plant the broccoli seeds in early spring or late summer
- Broccoli grows well in well-drained and slightly acidic soil
- It requires full sun for optimal growth
- Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer to fertilize broccoli
- Try not to get broccoli heads wet when you are watering the plant or they may start to rot