Basics of Broccoli: A Guide to Planting and Growing Broccoli

Not sure about you, but my favorite vegetable is broccoli. They are rich in vitamins, crunchy and you can cook a variety of dishes with it! With all these in mind, why not grow some broccoli in your own garden?

Types of Broccoli

Broccoli all look alike, but are you aware that it comes in many different varieties? Let me share with you some common varieties of broccoli:

Gemini: 

This type will produce broccoli with the same sized heads. This would be a great option when it comes to presenting an aesthetically pleasing dish. It also makes harvesting easier. 

Avenger: 

Grows best in warmer climates against the popular belief that broccoli is only able to thrive in cold-weather climates. 

Constellation: 

Known for producing a harvest all at the same time. This would be the best option when it comes to the preservation of broccoli. 

How then do you begin the planting process?

Broccoli grows in USDA zones three to ten. Here is some detailed information to help guide you:

The right time to plant:

  • Being a cool-season crop, it would be best to plant the broccoli during spring or fall. You would want to harvest them before summer comes as the heat would be too unbearable for the broccoli. 
  • A suitable temperature would be around 60 to 80°F in the daytime. Without the proper temperature, your broccoli will start forming heads too quickly. 

Sunlight

  • There needs to be a lot of sunlight for six to eight hours a day. Broccoli needs a lot of sunlight in order to grow well. Without a sufficient amount of sunlight, you would end up with thin, leggy plants with very unpleasing heads. 

Type of soil

  • Have moist and fertile soil ready. The soil must also be able to drain well. This is because broccoli cannot be submerged in too much water for a long period of time. 
  • Have an acidic level of between six to seven PH levels. 
  • In the event that you need to increase the acidity of your soil, squeeze a bit of lime or add leaf mulch to the soil. 
  • It is advisable to have two to four inches of compost over the beds of your garden weeks in advance. This would allow there to be more nutrients in the soil and also helps to increase the drainage. 

What is the right way to plant the seeds?

  • If you are planting the seeds in spring, begin to plant six to eight weeks before your last frost date. Sow the seedlings in the garden two to three weeks before the final frost date. 
  • For fall, sow the seeds in the garden for about 85 to 100 days before the first fall frost date. Alternatively, you could grow the seeds indoors first during the May to June period before transferring it to your garden in about six weeks. 
  • There has to be at least four to five real leaves sprouting before you can transfer the plant to your garden. A week period of transition must be given for them to harden off. 
  • Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart in holes much deeper than the containers they were in. 

Spacing

  • The seeds should be half an inch deep and three inches apart from one another if you are sowing the seeds straight. 
  • Once the seeds reach a height of two inches, space them out further from one another. Approximately 18 to 24 inches away from each other. This is because a lot of space is needed for the broccoli to spread. 
  • There should be at least two to three feet distance between each row of broccoli. If they were to be crammed together, you might end up with uneven heads and more side shoots. 

Can I grow broccoli in containers?

Good question! The answer is yes! They can grow in pots of all types. However, note that the roots of broccoli tend to spread out very wide. As such, a five-gallon container is only able to hold one broccoli at a time. 


How to take care of the broccoli?

Fertilization: 

Broccoli tends to take in a lot of nutrients. This is why there is a need to fertilize the plants every three to four weeks. Remember not to choose a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen, it would affect the growth of your broccoli negatively. 

Water: 

Being a cool-weather crop, a lot of water is needed for the broccoli to grow well. The soil should be moist at all times. Try not to add too much water, and try not to wet the heads of the broccoli too. Use a soaker hose to make sure that only the roots of the plants get watered. 

Use of Netting: 

Unfortunately, broccoli plants are highly prone to pests so cover them with netting. 

Harvesting of Broccoli

This is the easy part. Using only a knife, cut off the stem of the broccoli. The best time to harvest would be in the morning. This is because when the soil is cool, the flavor of it would be better. 

Storage

Short term: store the fresh broccoli into the fridge. They can be kept for a maximum of five days. 

Long term: blanch the broccoli heads with boiling water and freeze them for a year. 

Common pests and problems

Here are a few problems you might face when growing broccoli:

Cabbage Loopers: 

These pests chew small holes in the leaves, between the veins. To fix this, handpick them off the plant before using natural pesticides to get rid of them all. 

Nitrogen Deficiency: 

Too much nitrogen would cause the broccoli to turn yellow. Remember to choose a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen with a low level of phosphorus. 


What other crops can be grown together with broccoli?

You can grow beets, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, mint, onions, and potatoes. 

What not to grow together with broccoli:

Do not grow cabbages, corn, pumpkin, watermelon, eggplant, greens, grapes with your broccoli. 

Now that you have finished reading on how to grow your very own broccoli, why not start doing it for real! Get your hands dirty, shower your plants with love and may you have many healthy and delicious broccoli in your own home.

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