Are you ready to try growing broccoli in your own garden? Contrary to what you may have read, it’s not a difficult vegetable to grow. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this article will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips for broccoli gardening.
In this step-by-step guide, we’ll give you some ideas for planting, selecting the right variety, caring for and harvesting broccoli. We will help you grow this delicious and nutritious vegetable in your own back yard and give you some ideas for recipes, too.
Keep reading to learn how to master the art of growing broccoli at home.
Botanical name for broccoli and other broccoli facts
Understanding the botanical aspects of broccoli can provide you with valuable insights into its growth requirements and cultivation techniques. Here are some fun facts about broccoli:
- Botanical family – Broccoli is a member of the brassicaceae family. It is a close relative to other cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower.
- Botanical name – Brassica oleracea
- Plant structure – Broccolii is a vegetable plant that features an edible flower head. The stalk, leaves and flower buds are all edible.
- Growth habit – It has a rosette growth with a cluster of large, dark green leaves surrounding a central head.
- Flowers – The central head may develop small yellow flowers. If left to flower, the seeds can be used to propagate more plants.
- Nature – While normally grown as an annual, the plant is actually considered a biennial. The first year, the plant grows the head. If it survives into year two, it will produce flowers and seeds.
- Origin – Broccoli is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region and is grown worldwide.
- Nutritional value – Broccoli has a very high nutritional content. It is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, and various minerals such as potassium and folate. It also contains beneficial antioxidants and is considered a low-calorie vegetable.
Tips for growing broccoli in your garden
Whether you’re a beginner to vegetable gardening or a seasoned gardener with many years under your belt, these handy tips will help you grow broccoli plants at home so that you will end up with a bountiful harvest.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.
Choosing the right variety of broccoli
Different varieties of broccoli will vary in their heat or cold tolerance. Before growing broccoli, it is important to consider your local climate and the length of your growing season to select a variety that will thrive in your specific conditions.
Some varieties are better suited for cooler climates, while others are more tolerant of heat. The image and list below gives an ideas of a few to try. (You can print this printable in the card at the bottom of the post.)
Cool climate broccoli varieties to consider are:
- Calabrese: A popular variety of broccoli known for its reliability in cooler climates. It produces large, blue-green heads with a slightly domed shape and has an excellent flavor.
- Belstar: This variety is specifically bred for cooler temperatures and is highly tolerant of frost. It produces uniform, medium-sized heads and has good disease resistance.
- Arcadia: Another cold-hardy variety, it matures relatively quickly. It produces dense, dark green heads with a mild flavor.
- DeCicco: This heirloom variety is known for its ability to produce multiple smaller heads rather than a single large one. It is a reliable choice for cool climates and has a good tolerance for temperature fluctuations.
- Waltham 29: A cold-tolerant variety that is an excellent choice for regions with shorter growing seasons. It produces large, tightly packed heads.
Warmer climate type of broccoli plants to try are these
- Green Magic: This variety is specifically bred for heat tolerance and performs well in warm climates. It produces medium-sized, tightly packed heads.
- Packman: This variety is highly adaptable to warmer regions. It produces large, dense heads and has good heat tolerance.
- Apollo: This heat-tolerant variety is ideal for warm climates. It produces uniform, medium-sized heads and has good disease resistance.
- Sun King: With excellent heat tolerance, this variety is well-suited for hot climates. It produces medium to large heads with a slightly domed shape.
Marathon is a variety that is considered to be well-suited for cool and even colder climates. However, it can also adapt well to warmer climates and has good heat tolerance.
Should I grow seeds or seedlings?
The planting of broccoli should be timed so that the clusters of heads that the plant produces can be harvested when the days are cool. This means either starting seeds indoors or purchasing broccoli seedlings.
Both seeds and seedlings have their advantages and considerations when it comes to growing broccoli. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide which would be best for you:
Seeds are typically more budget-friendly than purchasing seedlings. There are also more variety options when growing broccoli from seed.
However, seeds have a longer growing time so you will need more patience. You will need to start broccoli seeds indoors and then transplant the seedlings outdoors once they are stronger.
Seedlings save time, since you can skip the germination period and get a head start on the broccoli growing process.
Seedlings are often recommended for beginner gardeners since they have a higher chance of success compared to seeds.
Your seed package or the tag on your seedling will tell you the number of days to harvest from the time you plant in the garden. In either case, broccoli will be one of the earliest vegetables that you will plant each year.
In cool climates, you may also be able to plant in late summer for a fall crop.
Sunlight and soil needs for broccoli
Once you make the decision between seeds or seedlings, it’s time to start growing broccoli!
Broccoli plants thrive in full sunlight, which means they need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Without enough sunlight, your broccoli plants may become leggy and produce smaller heads.
For this reason, it is necessary to choose a location for growing broccoli where it can get lots of sunlight.
As far as soil goes, broccoli prefers well-draining soil that is rich in compost, well rotted manure or other organic matter.
The vegetable likes a slightly acidic soil PH of 6.0 to 7.2 and enjoys a nutrient rich soil. At least once during the growing season, apply a dose of well balanced fertilizer. Water well to soak in the fertilizer.
The best time to plant broccoli can vary depending on your location and climate. Generally, broccoli is a cool-season crop that prefers temperatures between 45°F and 75°F (7°C to 24°C). It is typically grown as a spring or fall crop.
When choosing a planting location, remember that broccoli and other brassica cousins are affected by a number of soil-borne diseases. So, use crop rotation and don’t plant broccoli in the same spot that you did the previous year.
Prepare your soil a few weeks before planting time and add your organic matter.
Plant your broccoli seedlings 18 – 24 inches apart (45 to 60 cm) in rows 3 feet apart. This will give the broccoli plants room to grow and spread.
Water well after planting. Weed often in the early weeks, as the plants grow, their large heads will shade out weeds. If your region gets a lot of rain, you may want to support the plants to keep them from toppling over.
How much water does broccoli need?
To get a good broccoli crop, you need abundant water. Apply a thick mulch around the plants to conserve water and water deeply and well.
Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Broccoli plants need about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) of water per week, including rainfall.
Your water needs may vary depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and soil type.
To check the water level, stick your finger about an inch (2.5 cm) into the soil. If it feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water.
Try not to let the soil dry out between watering sessions but also avoid overwatering.
It is best to water broccoli plants deeply at the base rather than by overhead watering to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses can be effective methods for watering at the roots.
When to harvest broccoli
Check your specific broccoli variety for the estimated time to maturity. Broccoli harvest time is normally 70-95 days after planting seedlings.
A thickened head cluster growing at the top of the broccoli stalk till tell you that the plant is nearing maturity. The heads should be tightly packed and firm.
The head should be harvested before the flowerets begin to open and turn yellow.
The typical head size for harvesting broccoli is around 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) in diameter, depending on the variety.
To harvest, slice off the stalk about 5-6 inches below the head. Small side shoots should continue growing and will produce smaller heads in a few more months.
It’s best to harvest broccoli heads in the morning when they are cool and crisp. Don’t delay your harvest too long. Over-ripe heads can become tough and woody, and lose their desired flavor and texture.
Pests, diseases and other problems
Broccoli plants can be susceptible to various pests and diseases. Monitor your plants regularly for this, and take the appropriate action if necessary.
Pests that affect broccoli
There are many insects that prey on broccoli. Some common ones are:
- Aphids: Insecticidal soaps or neem oil can help control this pest.
- Cabbage Worms: These can cause significant damage if left unchecked. Manual removal, and use of row covers can be effective control measures.
- Flea Beetles: They can stunt growth. Row covers, and insecticidal soap can help manage them.
- Slugs and Snails: They can feed on the leaves and stems of young broccoli plants, causing irregular holes and damage. Remove hiding places, such as debris and weeds, handpick them to help deter slugs and snails.
- Cutworms: This pest typically feeds on the stems of broccoli plants near or just above ground level. Protect your broccoli plants from cutworms by surrounding them with paper collars. (You can make your own by cutting the bottoms out of paper cups.)
Broccoli is prone to some diseases, particularly soils born types. Be on the lookout for these problems:
- Clubroot: Leads to swollen, distorted roots and stunted growth. Plant resistant varieties, practice crop rotation, and improve soil drainage to manage clubroot.
- Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew appears as a white powdery coating on the leaves and can reduce plant vigor. Space plants well, and provide good air circulation to help manage this disease.
- Black Rot: This bacterial disease causes V-shaped lesions on the leaves, which turn black as the disease progresses. To manage black rot, practice crop rotation, remove and destroy infected plant material, and ensure good sanitation practices.
- Fusarium Wilt: Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease that causes yellowing, wilting, and stunted growth. Plant resistant varieties and practice crop rotation to help prevent and manage fusarium wilt.
Bolting in broccoli plants
Bolting refers to the process where broccoli plants prematurely produce flowers and set seeds. This typically happens when the plant is exposed to certain environmental conditions.
These include high temperatures, long day lengths, inadequate watering and simple maturity of the plant.
To prevent or minimize broccoli bolting, you can take a few precautions:
- Plant broccoli as early as possible in the growing season to ensure it matures before high temperatures and long days trigger bolting.
- Provide shade to shield the plants from excessive heat. Adequate mulching can also help keep the soil cooler.
- Maintain consistent soil moisture by watering regularly.
- Choose broccoli varieties that are less prone to bolting. Some cultivars are specifically bred for heat tolerance and have reduced bolting tendencies.
Recipe ideas featuring broccoli
Broccoli is a cool weather favorite crop that can be eaten raw or cooked.
This group of delicious dishes showcase broccoli. From comforting soups to savory stir-fries and delightful side dishes, these recipes will are sure to please.
- Vegan Broccoli Pasta -with Garlic and Onions in a Creamy Sauce
- Shrimp Pasta with Broccoli – Ready in Less Than 30 Minutes!
- Curried Crock Pot Broccoli Soup – Comforting and Delicious
- Broccoli Salad – with Orange Almond Dressing
- Shrimp Alfredo with Broccoli – Creamy and Delicious
- Stove Top Lemon Garlic Broccoli Recipe – Tasty Broccoli Side Dish
Growing broccoli at home is a rewarding and fulfilling experience that allows you to enjoy the freshest and most flavorful harvest right from your own garden. By following these tips, you will end up with broccoli plants that provide you a bountiful harvest.
Share this post about growing broccoli on Twitter
If you enjoyed these broccoli gardening tips, be sure to share the post with a friend. Here is a tweet to get you started:🥦 Excited to share my broccoli gardening tips! 🌱 From seedlings to harvest, growing broccoli is easier than you might think. Get the tutorial on The Gardening Cook. #HomegrownBroccoli #GardenToTable #FreshFlavors #HealthyHarvest… Click To Tweet
Pin this post about broccoli gardening tips
Would you like a reminder of this post for growing broccoli? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
You can also watch our video on YouTube.
- Heavy card stock or glossy photo paper
- Computer printer
- Load the heavy card stock or glossy photo paper into your computer printer.
- Choose portrait layout and if possible "fit to page" in your settings.
- Print the calendar and add to your gardening journal.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.