When planting broccoli, plant the right variety at the right time. Learn to grow broccoli in your vegetable garden and harvest fresh flower heads for your table.
Grow broccoli is a hardy vegetable that works best in the cool season. Most of the country can be harvested twice a year (spring and fall), especially with rapid ripening and continued improvement in heat tolerance, extending the life of broccoli into the hottest part of the season. It belongs to the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea), which includes kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collards, and kohlrabi.
Quick Guide to Grow Broccoli
Plant broccoli in cool weather in spring and fall. Plant it in containers or in an underground garden.
Grow broccoli plants according to labels (usually 18 inches apart). Choose a location with full sun, easy access to water, rich soil, and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 (supplement the soil with lime if necessary).
Amend your home soil by adding a few inches of compost or other rich organic matter before planting.
Keep the soil moist by giving broccoli plants 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week.
Get the most out of your broccoli growing efforts by feeding regularly with a sustained-release plant fertilizer.
Lay down a thick layer of organic mulch, made of finely ground leaves or bark, to retain soil moisture and deter weeds.
Time and temperature are critical to successful growth. The ideal growth temperature range is 65 to 80°F.
Harvest broccoli when the central crown is covered with tiny, green, closely packed buds.
A supermarket will never be without this top crop, but it’s beautiful and easy to grow, making it a great choice for novice gardeners.
Varieties range from the green head we all know to purple and white sprouts and miniature types.
Grow broccoli doesn’t like temperatures above 25 degrees, so make sure you’re planting at the right time. As with building a house, a good foundation is the key to garden success. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you’re starting with an existing garden bed, dig organic material (such as Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost) into the soil. Then you can add a layer of push vegetable mixture. When growing in pots and tubs, fill with Tui vegetable mix.
The best time to plant is in the early morning or early evening to avoid immediate exposure of the plant to the scorching sun. Always water plants before and after planting.
Find a sunny, shaded spot to plant at least 50cm to 70cm apart to ensure the plants are fully mature and not competing for space, fertilizer and water. If you planted broccoli or a specific Brassica variety last year, don’t plant them in the same place because pests and diseases can linger in the soil, read our crop rotation guide here.
Planting in garden beds
Water and drain plants thoroughly before planting.
Dig a hole about twice the depth and width of the root ball of the plant.
Partially fill the holes with the Tui vegetable mixture.
Carefully loosen the root ball of the plant and place the plant in the center of the hole.
Filled with Tui vegetable mix.
Gently press the soil around the base of the plant.
Water your plants row broccoli
Plants in pots and bathtubs
Soil, Planting and Care
Broccoli needs cool weather, full sun, water, and nutrient-rich soil. For maximum success, start with young, vigorous Bonnie Plants® broccoli plants, which will bring you closer to harvest than from seed. Plant broccoli in fertile, well-drained, moist soil that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day with plenty of organic matter. Mulch helps keep the soil cool and moist. Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for optimal growth and to prevent clubroot. The best way to determine soil pH is to test the soil. You can purchase a kit or do a soil test at a Cooperative Extension office in your area. If necessary, adjust the pH with lime based on the test results.
For optimal growth in your garden, it is important to use a combination of high-quality soil and plant fertilizers to support your plants. Dramatically improve your soil by mixing aged, compost-infused Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Soil with the top few inches of native soil. If you’re growing broccoli in containers, be sure to choose a pot that’s at least 18 inches in diameter (measured from the top) and fill it with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All-Purpose Container Mix (also added compost). ) to provide just the right environment for plant roots. No matter where you plan to grow your broccoli, be sure to regularly feed it with a slow-release fertilizer like Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules according to label directions.
Plant at the spacing indicated on the Bonnie label. In general, broccoli plants should be 18 inches apart. If planting in rows, space the rows 24 inches apart so you have plenty of room to walk between them, but you can plant two or three side by side to minimize aisle space.
Broccoli likes constant moisture to grow quickly and produce good heads, so water regularly, 1 to 1.5 inches per week when rain isn’t covering. You can measure the amount of water with a rain gauge in your garden. An organic mulch made from compost, ground leaves, or ground bark will help keep the soil cool and moist and suppress weeds. In colder climates, the opposite is true, and you may need to plant through black plastic in the spring to warm the soil, or leave the soil without mulch to allow the sun to warm it.
Broccoli is temperature sensitive. Cold damage can lead to premature head formation when the graft is exposed to the cold below 40 degrees for a week or two. On the other hand, if you plant late and the weather gets hot, you’ll get the same early blooms, so plant your broccoli on time. The ideal temperature for broccoli is between 65 and 80 degrees. For local planting dates, please contact your local Cooperative Extension office.
The best way to avoid pest problems is to keep your plants healthy and your garden clean. Major pests include cabbage inchworms and imported cabbage bugs, cabbage root maggots, aphids and flea beetles. Disease problems include blackleg, black rot, clubroot and yellow disease. For more information on pest identification and current control recommendations, please contact the Cooperative Extension office in your area.
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Harvest and storage
When you see flower heads starting to form in the center of the plant, check its growth daily. Ideally, you will harvest broccoli when the small buds are tightly closed. If the bud swells or turns yellow (petal), immediately cut off the head, no matter how small, from the stem, as the opened bud will have a powdery texture. After cutting off the main branch, allow the plant to develop bite-sized side branches in the leaf axils.
Don’t be disappointed if your broccoli heads are smaller than the grocery store ones; they are usually grown in friendly climates and receive a lot of care. In areas where spring warms up quickly, broccoli heads usually do better in fall than in spring, so try again later with larger heads. Plant in late summer. The heads will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
Get garden information on the go with our free HOMEGROWN with Bonnie Plants app. Learn more or download now for iPhone or Android.
Tips for Grow Broccoli
From its humble beginnings in Italy six centuries ago, broccoli has grown to become the second most popular vegetable in America (after potatoes). The per capita annual consumption exceeds 2.7 kilograms, which is quite a lot of broccoli! Of course, you want to grow broccoli in your organic garden because freshly harvested broccoli is very tender and rich in vitamins A, K and iron. This is my great secret to successfully growing broccoli in the garden.
1. Try Different Types of Broccoli
Opt for sprouted broccoli or the long-stemmed “DeCicco” to eat fresh, and some large-headed hybrids to keep in the fridge. In most climates, you can plant broccoli in the spring for a summer harvest, and start planting more seeds in July for a second harvest in the fall.
2. Reduce stressors
The best broccoli won’t be stunted by all kinds of stress, especially overcrowded roots. If you can’t suspend root seedlings, take a few minutes to plant them in larger containers. Harden the seedlings in the greenhouse for a few days before transplanting them into the garden. If growing broccoli is an art, it’s doing everything possible to avoid stress.
3. Plant in rich, firm soil
Broccoli needs a lot of nutrients, so use plenty of compost and a balanced organic fertilizer when preparing your growing space. Large broccoli plants will sway in the wind, but not when firmly anchored in their preferred soil type, which is a dense, clay-based loam with a near-neutral pH.
4. Protect the graft with a bell jar or lid
Wind, hail, rabbits, and squirrels won’t damage your broccoli if the seedlings are protected by a bell jar or grown under a row cover tunnel. The cloth cover provides continuous protection from wind, hail, animals, and the laying of cabbage whites that hatch into leaf-eating cabbage worms.
5. Food and water
Fertilize with a water-soluble plant fertilizer when small coin-sized heads form deep inside the plant. From this point on, it’s important to avoid any unnecessary wetting of the newly emerging head, which can lead to unwanted rotting nests. Use a biodegradable mulch, such as weathered straw, to keep the roots cool and moist between waterings.
6. Protect plants in hot summer
On a hot summer day, when the head is half mature, I use a wooden clothespin to fasten the tips of three or four long leaves to a top hat to filter the last week or so of sun and rain before refuse to harvest. Alternatively, you can erect a fabric shade over mature broccoli plants when their heads are almost ready for harvest.
7. Harvest immediately
The most popular hybrids such as “Belstar” and “Marathon” have medium-sized flowers or pearls that should still be completely green with no signs of yellowing when the main head is cut. If you must, be on the side or make a mistake early! Many varieties produce smaller secondary heads after cutting the main head.
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