Broccoli is a fantastic plant for the home vegetable gardener that produces flavorful dark green heads on solid stems. This Broccoli is more tolerant of warm temperatures than some other varieties. Harvest heads before the buds begin to swell. Broccoli has high nutritional value and is a great source of Vitamin A and C!
Delicious when lightly steamed and covered with cheese sauce or melted butter. Slice raw into salads or cook. Serve with dip on a vegetable tray. Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs thoroughly before eating.
Broccoli is a sun-loving, cool-season crop that is best grown in the spring or fall. It’s also incredibly healthy and has been dubbed the “crown jewel of nutrition.” Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest broccoli in the garden!
Broccoli is worth growing for its nutritional content alone. This cole crop is rich in vitamins and minerals, and is a good source of Vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, iron, and fiber.
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.
WHEN TO PLANT BROCCOLI
- Broccoli is cool-season crop, so it should be planted in early spring or late summer for the best results. High mid-summer temperatures will stunt its growth, so the goal is to get broccoli to mature before or after high temperatures are expected.
- Broccoli seeds are capable of germinating in soil temperatures as low as 40°F (4°C), but warmer soil is preferred and will greatly speed up development.
- For spring plantings, broccoli may be started indoors or outdoors a few weeks ahead of your last spring frost date:
- Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date.
- Sow outdoors 2 to 3 weeks before your last frost date, or as soon as the soil can be worked.
- For fall plantings (best in warm climates), sow seeds outdoors 85 to 100 days before the first fall frost, when soil and ambient temperatures are high. Or, start seeds in late May.
PREPARING THE PLANTING SITE
- Broccoli requires a site with exposure to full sun (6 to 8 hours per day). Lack of sunlight may produce thin, leggy plants and subpar heads.
- Plant in a bed of moist, fertile soil that drains well.
- Soil pH should be slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.0.
- To increase fertility before you plant, in early spring, work in 2 to 4 inches of rich compost or a thin layer of manure. (Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.)
HOW TO PLANT BROCCOLI
- Space rows of broccoli 3 feet apart. (Closer spacing yields smaller main heads but more secondary heads.)
- Water well.
HOW TO GROW BROCCOLI
- Plants thrive outdoors in 65°F to 70°F (18° to 21°C) conditions.
- Provide consistent soil moisture with regular watering, especially in drought conditions. Water at least 1 to 1 ½ inches per week.
- Do not get developing broccoli heads wet when watering, as it can encourage rot.
- Roots are very shallow, so try not to disturb the plants. Suffocate weeds with mulch.
- Mulch will also help to keep soil temperatures down.
- Use row covers to minimize pests.
- To promote the growth of a second head after the first has been harvested, maintain an active feeding and watering schedule.
- If bottom, then top, leaves turn yellow, add blood meal.
HOW TO HARVEST BROCCOLI
- Harvest broccoli in the morning, when the buds of the head are firm and tight, just before the heads flower.
- If you do see yellow petals, harvest immediately, as the quality will decrease rapidly.
- Cut heads from the plant, taking at least 6 inches of stem. Make a slanted cut on the stalk to allow water to slide away. (Water can pool and rot the center of a flat-cut stalk, runing the secondary heads.)
- Most varieties have side-shoots that will continue to develop after the main head is harvested. You can harvest from one plant for many weeks, in some cases, from spring to fall, if your summer isn’t too hot..
HOW TO STORE BROCCOLI
- Store broccoli in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- If you wash before storing, make sure to dry it thoroughly.
- Broccoli can be blanched and frozen for up to one year.