12 Easy Steps to Grow Broccoli
Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable that comes in several varieties. It's delicious raw, lightly sautéed, or added to stir-fries, soups, pasta, and rice-based dishes. It's also easy to grow broccoli if you run with a few simple broccoli growing guidelines.
Broccoli is a unique crop because depending on when it is planted, it can yield two harvests each year (one in the fall and one in the summer). If you are sure about growing some Broccoli and wondering how to grow broccoli all on your own, then you are at the right place. Welcome to this GaiaTree Eco blog that walks you through - how to grow broccoli. But, before diving into growing, let’s look at the properties of Broccoli.
Properties of Broccoli
- Genus: Brassica
- Plant type: Cabbage family, Brassicaceae
- Height: 18 to 24 in (45 to 60 cm)
- Width: 12 to 24 in (30 to 60 cm)
- Leaves: Brassica oleracea var. Italic
- Flowers: Clustered green flower buds
- Cotyledon: 5 to 7 days
- Propagation: Seed germination
- Water Requirement: 1 to 1.5 in (2.5 to 4 cm) of water per week
- Harvest Time: September through November 100 to 150 days after sowing
Ready to add broccoli to your edible garden or homestead? Here's why you should.
Broccoli contains a high percentage of the regularly recommended daily value, in a single serving (~ 1 cup chopped). Vitamin C is necessary for healthy eyes and skin, but it has also been discovered to affect the vascular system.
Broccoli is a vegetable similar to cauliflower and others such as kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, and rutabaga. Broccoli is a cabbage-like hardy vegetable that is rich in vitamins A and D. It thrives during the cooler months of the year.
Plant a broccoli crop that pays off
Here are a few easy to follow steps to growing broccoli in your backyard, homestead or on your farm.
Step 1: Find a good spot and temperature
Broccoli needs a position that receives full sun (6 to 8 hours per day). Lack of sunlight can result in slender, leggy plants with poor heads.
Step 2: Preparing the soil
Broccoli grows best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. To change the acidity of the soil, you can measure it and add different nutrients, like thoroughly decomposed compost, which can lower the pH of your growing beds. Before the growing season, make sure to test the soil. In addition to pH, the results of a soil test will reveal whether your soil is deficient in any essential nutrients, which you may improve with organic and natural soil amendments.
Step 3: Sowing
- Sow seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring for a summer harvest. Direct sow seeds outdoors 85 to 100 days before the first fall frost for a fall harvest.
- Alternatively, plant your seeds in peat pots or other small seedling pots if you decide to germinate them indoors. Keep them in a bright place.
- If you're starting seeds indoors, you can plant them earlier and transplant them to the garden 2 - 3 days before the last frost. You won't have to shade them later if you germinate them in separate pots or tray containers.
Step 4: Select a large-headed variety
If you have a lot of growing space, go for a large-headed range. Between fall and spring, broad-headed varieties grow large crowns. This is the most common type of plant. If planted in the spring, these varieties would mature in 50 to 70 days, and 65 to 90 days if planted in the fall. Arcadia Belstar is a large-headed variety.
Step 5: Plant broccoli seeds in widely spaced rows
Purchase high-quality seeds from vendors or online to guarantee a healthy and large harvest. Always check the description/ label to ensure organic/heirloom sources.
- Arrange your plot in 36 in-wide (90-centimeter-wide) rows. Along each row, dig holes every 12 to 24 in (30 to 60 cm). Fill each hole with a few seeds and cover it with dirt.
- Instead of sowing seeds every 6 in (15 cm), you can sow them every 6 in (15 cm) and thin out the smaller or less healthy plants as they grow.
- If you're planting outside, gently smooth the soil over the seeds with a rake, but don't damage the seeds themselves.
- If you're planting in peat pots, simply pat the soil over the seeds with your fingertips.
Step 6: Water thoroughly after sowing broccoli seeds
Drench the soil, but make sure there are no puddles of accumulated water; broccoli prefers good drainage. If you planted the seeds indoors, use a spray bottle to soften the soil.
Step 7: Regulate the soil temperature
To keep the soil cool when directly sowing outdoors, use an organic mulch made of mature compost, leaves and/or bark. This is especially important if you're planting in cold weather when you’ll need to cover the soil with a thick mulch layer. In cold temperatures, multiple mulch layers of different organic materials may help insulate the soil better.
Step 8: Thin out your seedlings
You need to thin your outdoor seedlings once they exceed one inch (2.5 cm) in height to give them enough space to grow. Smaller or unhealthy-looking plants should be removed before the survivors are 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) apart. As the broccoli plants grow, this will prevent congestion.
Step 9: Harvest your broccoli plants
- Broccoli crowns should be harvested when the buds are tightly closed and dark green. Wait until the buds open into light green or yellow flowers before continuing. Garden shears are used to cut the crown where it meets the stem.
- Breaking the crown is not a good idea. A clean-cut would allow new development more effectively.
- The broccoli plant can grow small shoots from the side of the stem with a healthy cut. You can keep harvesting small shoots, while the plant continues to grow.
Step 10: Care
Mix up to four inches of organic compost into your soil to maximize its fertility. If your soil is in especially bad shape, you can also improve it with high-nitrogen organic compost.
Step 11: Common Issues
Aphids - Keep an eye out for aphid colonies on the underparts of the leaves.
Cabbage worms - (imported cabbage worms, cabbage loopers) invade the leaves and heads of cabbage and associated cold crops. You can add two spoonsful of vegetable soap and mix it in two gallons of water to spray on your crops.
Step 12: Harvesting and storing
Judging when to harvest Broccoli can be tricky. However, you can check if the head of the broccoli is deep green in color as well as packed with small tightly bound buds. Your crop should be ready to harvest. On the other hand, if your broccoli crop starts turning yellow or growing flowers, harvest it immediately.
You can store your broccoli in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for a while. Although, it would test the best if consumed right after the harvest.
Broccoli is tasty and the plant is easy to grow. You will definitely have a lot of fun while growing them.
Book: How To Grow Broccoli From Seed by Lucky James