How to Grow Broccoli

How to Grow Broccoli

How to Grow Broccoli

In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing broccoli at home.

Quick Guide Information

Common Name: Broccoli

Scientific Name: Brassica oleraceae var. italica

Family: Brassicaceae

Life Span: Annual

Time Till Harvest: 100 to 150 days

Light Requirement: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Optimum pH: 6.0 - 7.0

There is something truly rewarding about growing broccoli in your garden. It’s fascinating to slowly watch the head of Broccoli developing and even difficult to harvest something that looks so perfect in its place. But once you do, you realise that home-grown Broccoli is much more delicious and superior than any store-bought Broccoli you’ve ever had.

Broccoli is easy to grow. It is a cool-season crop, so it is perfect for growing during the colder part of the season. This being said, Broccoli does not do too well in the heat. Excessively high temperatures can result in lanky growth, bolting, and sensitivity to pests/disease. For this reason, it is important to consider your timing when planting Broccoli.

Propagation, Planting, and Maintenance

Sow Broccoli in fertile soil that is generously amended with compost. Broccoli thrives in fertile and nitrogen rich soil. Full sun is also best for Broccoli, otherwise the plants can grow lanky and may not produce a large head.

When to Sow

+ Spring: Broccoli can be planted by seed 2-3 weeks before last frost or whenever the soil is ready to be worked. Alternatively, you can also start Broccoli indoors around 6 weeks before the last frost to get a head start in the season.

+ Autumn: You can also plant in the fall. In this case sow the seeds outdoors 85 to 100 days before the first fall frost.

You can plant seeds 2 cm deep and 8 cm apart. Once these plants are around 8 cm tall you want to thin them about 40 cm apart. To do this choose your best seedlings and remove any slow-growing or unhealthy ones. You can gently transplant any good seedlings you want to keep.

Mulch heavily around your plants to help retain moisture and prevent the growth of weeds. Mulch will also help support the plants so they don’t tip over. Finally, mulch can help keep soil temperatures cooler during hot weather and reduce the risk of bolting.

Keep plants well-watered, mulched, and the beds free of weeds. If necessary top-dress with compost when you notice the head of broccoli beginning to develop. After about 100-150 days your head of broccoli will be ready for harvest. If you see yellow petals, you should not wait any longer to harvest.

You can harvest by cutting the head off directly from the plant. Side Shoots will grow and produce smaller heads after a couple of weeks.

Common Problems

Small Head - This is not uncommon with homegrown broccoli. It often has to do with temperatures and is difficult to prevent.

Caterpillars - These are the caterpillars of the white moths you will probably see hovering around your plants. You can remove these and their eggs by hand. This is often the best way to control this.

Mildew - This typically occurs from excessive moisture, crowded growth, and too much shade. Make sure your bed is weeded and that you provide plenty of airflow. If necessary, thin your plants. Young broccoli plants have edible stems and leaves so you can still make the best of these plants you remove.

Lanky Growth - This occurs due to lack of sunlight. You can try cutting back any surrounding vegetation that may be causing shade, otherwise it’s a bit difficult to remedy this once the plant is established.

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