This guide to growing Broccoli takes you through the stages of growing Broccoli. If you have already planted your Broccoli and are ready to harvest or are unsure if the crop is ready to harvest go here for advice.
Preparing For Planting
Remember Broccoli are members of the brassicas family and it’s best not to grow them in the same soil more often than once every three years. So your garden layout has to allow for this, for some advice on garden layouts have a look here
For the best results growing your Broccoli you will need to do a bit of preparatory work –
- Work in some well-rotted manure about a year before sowing.
- Also insure the ground is well-drained.
The different planting needs of the two groups Broccoli are –
- Calabrese – sow these from February to April.
- Sprouting – sow these in May.
For both varieties you want to start them off in a seedbed.
Sowing them about 15cm apart and about 2.5cm deep.
You will want to transplant them when they are around 10cm tall and with three or four leaves
- For Calabrese this will be between April and July
- For Sprouting it will be between June and July.
When you transplant you will need to space them out differently:
- Calabrese needs to be spaced about 45cm apart.
- Sprouting needs to be spaced about 60cm apart.
Dates for sowing
Note: if you live in a warm climate then a fall planting will be best as Broccoli flourishes in cool weather.
Spring planting – 2 to 3 weeks before last spring frost date
Fall planting – 12 to 15 weeks before your average first fall frost
- Being a cool weather plant Broccoli can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 40ºF.
- Plant in an area that provides the Broccoli with full sun.
Care For Broccoli
During the growing season keep the plants well watered, to promote growth you can give them a liquid feed. Remove any weeds that grow around them by suffocating them with mulch and get rid of any pests, such as aphids, slugs and snails.
- Add Fertilizer approximately three weeks after you have transplanted them.
- Water regularly to insure consistent soil moisture, especially in drought conditions. Some varieties of broccoli may be tolerant to heat, but they all still need moisture.
- When watering avoid getting the developing heads wet.
- Don’t cultivate the plants because the roots are very shallow.
- The mulch not only kills off the weeds but it also keeps the soil temperature down which assists the plant growing.
- Getting your timing right – Only harvest the broccoli when the buds of the head are firm and tight and before the heads flower. If the plant has yellow petals, harvest straight away.
- Make sure to harvest in the morning as this will give the best taste.
- When cutting heads cut down the stem about 15cm.
- Cut the stalk at a slant when removing the main head, do this about 15 to 20cm below the head.
- A lot of varieties will develop side-shoots and these will continue to produce heads after the main head is harvested. This will allow you to harvest from one plant for many weeks, sometimes if you have a mild summer you will be able to cut heads from the plant all the way from spring to fall.
- You can store broccoli for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- Make sure if you wash the Broccoli that you dry it thoroughly before storing.