Fresh broccoli is one of the highlights of the vegetable garden, growing crisp and delicious in the chilly temperatures of early spring and fall.Nowadays, I can’t remember why I disliked broccoli as a kid, but I suspect it was its kinship to cabbage and mustards – and distinctive sharp flavor – that was too much for a young veggie skeptic.The secret to growing broccoli is to encourage full, healthy flower heads but to harvest them before they mature (“bolt”) and lose flavor.Some types of broccoli focus on one main flower head, while others sprout smaller individual florets.Planting: Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable that likes daytime temperatures in the 60s and can tolerate light frost and temps down to the 20s.Summer Heat: Broccoli will “bolt” (go to seed) in hot weather, which results in a loss of flavor and toughening of texture.Because of the short growing season, broccoli is in a race against time and needs high-quality soil amended with plenty of rich compost.Plant broccoli seeds about ¼ to ½ inch deep, and transplant to the garden in about 5 weeks.Mulch, regular water, and shade covers can prolong your broccoli season, and as the weather warms you should harvest more frequently to keep your plants from shifting into seed mode.How to Harvest: Using a sharp knife, cut the main stalk of the broccoli at an angle, several inches below the flower head. .
Growing Broccoli: Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Broccoli Plants
Once you harvest the main head of a broccoli plant, it will often keep producing smaller side shoots that can be enjoyed for months to come. .
How to Plant and Grow Broccoli
Grow broccoli so that it comes to harvest when temperatures average no more than 75°F (23°C) each day.In mild-winter regions, start seeds indoors in late summer and set them in the garden in autumn for winter harvest.Broccoli will bolt and go to seed in warm temperatures or when daylight hours lengthen.Broccoli is frost hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F (-6.7°C).Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that must come to harvest before temperatures rise consistently above 75°F (24°C).Start broccoli seed indoors 5 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring.In mild-winter regions, start seeds indoors in late summer and set them in the garden in autumn for winter harvest.Whether that is too cold or too warm will cause broccoli to go to seed without forming heads.Avoid planting broccoli near pole beans, strawberries, or tomatoes.Grow multiple plants in larger containers set 18 inches (45cm) apart.Broccoli is very sensitive to heat so be sure to move plants into the shade on hot days.Control these pests by handpicking them off of plants or by spraying with Bacillus thuringiensis.Broccoli is susceptible to cabbage family diseases including yellows, clubroot, and downy mildew.Plant disease-resistant varieties, rotate crops each year, and keep the garden free of debris to cut back the incidence of disease.Heads that have begun to open showing small yellow flowers are past the eating stage.Broccoli will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen after blanching for up to 3 months.Learn to grow 80 tasty vegetables: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE. .
7 Tips for Growing Outstanding Broccoli
From its humble beginnings in Italy six centuries ago, broccoli has emerged as the second most popular vegetable (after potatoes) in America.Broccoli needs plenty of nutrients, so be generous with compost and a balanced organic fertilizer when preparing planting space.Big broccoli plants rock in the wind, but not when they are firmly anchored in their favorite soil type, which is dense, clay-based loam with a near-neutral pH.Wind, hail, rabbits and squirrels cannot sabotage your broccoli when seedlings are protected with cloches or grown under row cover tunnels.Fabric covers will provide constant protection from wind, hail, animals, and egg laying by cabbage white butterflies, which hatch into leaf-eating cabbageworms.In hot summers, when the heads reach half their mature size, I use a wood clothes pin to fasten the tips of three or four long leaves into a pointed hat that filters out sun and sheds rain for the last week or so before harvest.Most popular hybrids like ‘Belstar’ and ‘Marathon’ have medium-size florets, or beads, that should still be fully green, with no hint of yellowing, when the primary head is cut. .
How to Grow Broccoli in Containers
Now I adore it lightly sautéed with teriyaki chicken so that it turns bright green, slightly tender, and soaks in the sauce for a delicious flair.Other popular veggies in the family include cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, and kale.Provided you supply enough nutrients and consistent watering, your broccoli will thrive in a smaller space.Make sure that whatever type of container you use has draining holes in the bottom so that your plants don’t get waterlogged, potentially causing root rot.You can also add a layer of gravel, broken pottery, or pebbles into the base of the planter to allow water to filter down and away from the roots.italica loves cool weather and a full sun location – hot summer temperatures can cause the plant to bolt.For a spring planting, you’ll want to sow seeds indoors about eight weeks before your average last frost date.You can technically keep broccoli growing indoors, but this cruciferous veggie loves brisk, cool weather and will thrive in natural sunshine.The plus side of growing in containers during cooler fall weather is that you’ll battle fewer bugs.The moment you see them germinate – after 5-10 days – set your trays in a sunny windowsill or point a grow light at the emerging seedlings.If both of your seeds have germinated, after a few days, thin to one plant per cell by cutting the smaller seedling with scissors.On a windowsill, it’s advisable to rotate your seedling tray regularly to prevent the shoots from leaning towards the light.Thankfully, an easy way to solve this problem is to transplant the seedlings immediately to their permanent container.I filled a large container with potting soil and added some 4-6-3 (NPK) vegetable-specific granular fertilizer from Dr. Earth, available from Home Depot, and let my three-year-old mix it all together.Dr.
Earth Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer You can also use a balanced 10-10-10 (NPK) according to the package instructions.I was only going to transplant three in my 10-inch wide by 12-inch deep pot, but my toddler snuck an extra one in there and I couldn’t dampen his gardener’s enthusiasm by taking it away.Since the shoots were so leggy, I buried about two inches of the green stem, but usually, you would plant to the same depth as the seedling pot.The green beauties have been growing at a steady clip ever since, and I can’t wait to harvest the tasty heads in another month or so!I’m keeping the container indoors, just waiting for the weather to warm up to a consistent 45°F here in Alaska before I set it on my back porch for some fresh air and sunshine.You will need to harden off your seedlings before they go and live outdoors To do this, set them outside for an increasing amount of time every day over the period of a week or two.Add a layer of organic mulch to the top of the soil to help the roots stay cool and moist.To get the best results when growing broccoli in pots, you’ll want to select cultivars that are compact and fast maturing.This heirloom cultivar forms heads instead of multiple stalks like ‘Royal Tenderette Hybrid,’ described below, but it’s quick to mature.‘Di Cicco’ Harvest the main head when it’s 3-4 inches wide for a roasted broccoli soup, like this one from our sister site, Foodal.You can find seeds in packets of various sizes for ‘Di Cicco’ at True Leaf Market.‘Royal Tenderette Hybrid’ This fast-growing variety matures in just 50-60 days from germination and can produce two to three harvests.You can simply cut a few sweet-tasting florets off for an easy lunchtime side dish for your family and then watch as more stalks grow in 12-14 days.If you don’t catch the pests themselves but start to see holes chewed through your leaves, spray them with neem oil.Powdery mildew is a fungal disease to watch out for, particularly in containers where plants are growing close together, without adequate air circulation.Avoid over-watering which can create a humid environment, and water at the soil level to keep the leaves and stems dry.Here’s how to harvest once it’s ready: take a pair of pruning shears or a sharp knife and clip or cut the stem about four to six inches down.By clipping off a big portion of the stalk, you allow the plant to refocus energy into producing side shoots instead of the main head. .
How Do I Grow Broccoli?
Broccoli is a cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea, which also includes cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts.That’s why most commercially grown broccoli comes from the central California coast, where fields stay cool enough to grow it year-round.In addition to the florets and stems, broccoli leaves and stalks also belong on your dinner plate.Broccoli seeds can be sown indoors in sterile seed-starting mix eight weeks before the last frost date.Broccoli grows best in full sun, but a little shade can delay bolting in warmer months.Amending soil with compost and aged manure will improve drainage while also providing nutrients that broccoli needs.All broccoli belongs to the same group of Brassica oleracea, italica, but there are still many, many varieties to choose from.The plants reach maturity at different times from one another starting in 60–70 days, for an extended harvest.Emerald Crown is a compact plant with large domes of blue-green heads and sweet stalks.Gypsy has a strong root system that helps it succeed in soil with below-average fertility.The heads are well domed, and the plants are resistant to downy mildew and heat tolerant.Planted out in late summer or early fall, they will be ready to harvest in 80–115 days.A total of one to two inches per week of water — including rainfall — is ideal for broccoli.A drip irrigation system is ideal for broccoli as it will keep the soil consistently moist.Applying 2–3 inches of organic mulch around the plants, such as shredded leaves or straw, will retain moisture between waterings while also suppressing weeds and keeping the soil cool.In addition to improving soil fertility with compost and manure, I apply fish emulsion and blood meal to give the plants a boost and help my broccoli thrive throughout the season.When it comes to preventing broccoli pests, using floating row cover from the day plants go in the ground will make all the difference.Row cover is a barrier that prevents moths from laying eggs on the leaves, which become the pests most common to broccoli.This small black or bronze jumping leaf beetle is just an eighth of an inch long.As with moths, floating row cover can keep flea beetles at bay.Another strategy is to plant a trap crop of radishes, which flea beetles prefer over broccoli.Wet foliage provides an ideal environment for many of these pathogens, so watering around the base of the plants is the preferred method.The best control method for broccoli diseases is to remove the affected plants to reduce the spread.The best time to harvest broccoli is when the unopened flower buds are just starting to swell.Harvest in the morning — when the moisture content is the highest — and cut the stalks several inches below the head at a 45-degree angle.Sign up to receive gardening resources, eBooks and email updates on the joegardener podcast and more.Episode 122: Fall Vegetable Garden Success: Best Plants and Tips for Cool-Season Growing.The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship.At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, Greenhouse Megastore, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Wild Alaskan Seafood Box and TerraThrive. .
How to Grow Broccoli
Some traditional non-hybrid varieties like De Cicco are well suited to the home garden since they produce large numbers of side-shoots allowing for more prolonged harvest.For spring plantings, look for early maturing varieties with good heat tolerance like Windsor.For fall harvest, look for varieties with good cold tolerance and longer maturity.Broccoli grows well under Michigan’s cool conditions, especially near the lake shore where temperatures are moderated.Diseases: Black rot, club root, downy mildew, alternaria leaf spot.Harvest broccoli before the flowers open while the floret is still in a tight head.Broccoli is highly perishable under warm conditions so it is best to harvest in the morning and immediately refrigerate.Developed by James Manning, Undergraduate Research Assistant, and Daniel Brainard, Vegetable Extension Specialist; MSU Department of Horticulture; Gary Heilig, MSU Extension educator.For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at [email protected] .
Growing Guide: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Broccoli
Italica Common name Broccoli Plant type Annual vegetable Size 2-3 feet tall Sun exposure Full sun, 6-8 hours Soil type Loamy, with plenty of organic matter Soil pH Neutral (6-7) Hardiness zones Zones 2-11 Native area Coastal southern and western Europe.For a spring harvest, start seeds indoors at room temperature in late winter roughly 3-4 weeks before the last frost.If your zone is too hot in summer, plant indoors as above, estimate the date to allow for harvesting before a freeze sets in.In mild climates, it’s possible to plant late in fall and grow through the winter, but be ready to protect the broccoli from hard frost if needed.Planting after a leguminous cover-crop can be beneficial, but a new method has been developed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Virginia Polytechnic Institute that employs planting soy to outgrow weeds, then chopping it or rolling over it to leave a thick, weed-blocking thatch that retains moisture and adds nutrients, prevents erosion and reduces chemical use.The National Gardening Association notes that soil deficient in boron results in weird stalks with “mouse-ear-sized top leaves and hollow stems”, but this can be fixed by mixing ½ teaspoon of borax per 100 square feet with compost and applying to the soil ahead of planting.Soil that is too sandy or has too much clay may benefit from the addition of humic substances, according to a study carried out by three universities.Broccoli thrives best on regular irrigation and may respond to water stress by forming the head before the plant is ready.The UC Vegetable Research & Information Center cautions that too much water will lead to loose buds and hollow stems.Flea-beetles, wireworms, cabbage loopers, and cutworms may attack broccoli, depending on location, but aphids are a notorious and widespread broccoli-ruining pest.The tiny, seed-sized sap-suckers really make the most of the nooks and crannies to steal moisture from the plant and create a nasty infestation.To avoid diseases like black rot or powdery mildew, rotate brassica crops, leaving a long time between turns.Growers can protect broccoli plants from other pests and sun or wind damage by using a floating row cover.It matures faster and so has fewer potential problems, and it can be harvested a bit at a time through the cool season.Broccoli should be chilled and not allowed to dry out, but it needs a bit of air circulation, so the conventional wisdom suggests loosely wrapping it in moist paper towels. .