Broccoli is a delicious cool-seasonal plant that is very easy to nurture. It yields really fast and can be harvested either in summer or autumn.
Learning how to grow broccoli gives you the advantage of walking into your garden to get the vegetable for your salad or any side dish. It is not a difficult task, you just need to follow the growing tips listed here to grow your broccoli.
Broccoli is a vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It has a thick stem and large blue-gray leaves that are arranged in such a way that it aids a flowering head.
The broccoli plant is very popular and is usually planted in mid-spring. It is well known for its high nutritional value. The plant is a very excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, vitamin A, fiber, iron, and potassium.
An interesting fact about this vegetable is that they do not only come in green color, there are also purple varieties of the plant. For an early harvest, plant broccoli in mid-spring. The vegetable can either be eaten raw or cooked.
You’ll definitely want to grow broccoli in your garden because freshly groomed broccoli has all of its nutrients intact.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
The bioactive compounds contained in broccoli are very important to your health.
Listed below are some of the health benefits of broccoli
1. Eye Health
If you notice you have impaired eyesight, a regular intake of broccoli can help boost your eyesight. The beta-carotene found in broccoli is converted to Vitamin A in the body.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids contained in this vegetable that is linked to a reduced risk of age-related eye problems.
2. Prevents Cancer
Cancer is formed when there is a rapid growth of abnormal cells which is associated with oxidative stress. However, broccoli contains compounds that can help protect the body against cancer.
Regular intake of cruciferous veggies like broccoli helps to decrease the risk of gastric, lung, prostate, breast, and pancreatic cancers. The isothiocyanate found in broccoli help to reduce oxidative stress and prevent the body from cancer.
The nutritional value gotten from eating the vegetables raw and fresh cannot be compared to when taking broccoli supplements.
3. Reduces Level of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is very vital in the development of bile acid which aids you to digest fat. These bile acids are developed in your liver and stored in your gallbladder after which it is released to your digestive system.
The compounds in broccoli combine with bile acids in your guts and stop them from being reused. This now forms new bile acids from cholesterol which is associated with decreasing the risk of cancer and heart diseases.
Types of Broccoli
There are different varieties of broccoli that differs based on the growth rate and appearance.
They are listed below:
- Green Magic: This variety of broccoli is heat-tolerant. This means that the plant has the ability to resist excess heat and can grow well in warm climates.
- Flash: Just like its name implies, this variety is popular for its rapid growth.
- Calabrese: When you plant the calabrese in the fall, it yields more and produces large heads.
- Green Goliath: This variety can adapt to heat and it also produces large heads.
- White Sprouting: This variety produces large plants and takes about 70 days to harvest.
- Premium Crop: This doesn’t grow with side shoots and it takes about 58 to 82 days to harvest. It is also a disease resistance crop.
- Packman: This variety produces really good side shoots, and it takes up to 60 days to harvest.
How to Grow Broccoli
Growing broccoli is not as difficult as most people think. You can consider growing broccoli in a cage to prevent the plant from cabbage white caterpillar. You should plant broccoli seeds every six weeks from the spring season to the autumn season.
Growing the plant in a very fertilized and alkaline will help in rapid growth and bountiful harvest. You should know that it survives well in a soil pH of 6 to 7.
You should plant the vegetables 45cm apart in each row to give room for the development of side shoots. Ensure to regularly water the crop and remove unwanted plants growing around it to help retain the soil moisture.
Tips for Growing Broccoli
1. Planting broccoli should be done in the cool season of early spring. It is advisable to grow them in gardens or in containers. Ensure to improve the soil by adding rich organic materials so as to have rapid growth.
2. A good way to start broccoli is to plant seeds indoors for about six weeks before spring. When you want to start planting in your garden, you should plant in late summer so it will be readily available for harvest in late fall or early winter.
3. Once they are up to four weeks indoors, you can now transplant the broccoli seedlings to your garden.
4. Regularly water the broccoli plants to keep the soil moist. After about 55 to 85 days, broccoli will be ready for harvest.
5. For rapid growth, ensure that the temperature ranges from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
When to Plant Broccoli
1. Since broccoli is a cool-season vegetable, it should be harvested right before the temperature rises above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In most cases broccoli is grown from transplants. So, the plant will sprout in cool soil of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Don’t forget that it is best to start planting indoors for about six weeks before the previous frost time in spring.
4. The soil should be warmed to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in order to achieve rapid growth.
5. If you stay in short-season regions, plant broccoli in summer so you’ll be able to harvest in the fall.
6. Since broccoli is frost-hardy, it can grow well under temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spacing and Support of Broccoli
1. The seeds should be planted half inches deep in the soil and three inches apart.
2. When you notice that there are four or five true leaves, you should plant the transplants.
3. The seedlings should be planted about 24 inches in the rows and about 36 inches apart to give space for shoot leaves.
4. You can plant the seeds at the same time you plant the transplants. This will help achieve mid-season varieties all at once.
5. Using scissors, cut off thin plants. You can then keep cutworm collars near young seedlings.
6. You should know that spacing is very important when it comes to planting broccoli because it grows 2 feet tall and wide.
Where to Plant Broccoli
If you’re wondering about the perfect place to plant broccoli, we’ve listed them out.
1. You should plant broccoli where the plant can receive full sun.
2. Broccoli germinates best in soil that is rich in nitrogen and also has good soil drainage.
3. Make sure the soil is rich in nutrients by adding well-rotted manure or compost to the soil. This should be done a few weeks before you begin planting. This helps fertilize the soil and aids rapid growth.
4. The ideal soil pH for your broccoli plant is between 6.7 and 7.2. You can also add lime to the soil to boost the soil’s pH level.
Broccoli Companion Plants
Listed below are the different plants you can plant with broccoli.
Do not plant broccoli near the following plants:
- Pole beans
How to Grow Broccoli in Pots
1. A single broccoli plant will germinate in a 20 cm pot or container.
2. You can grow different plants in large containers that are 45 cm apart.
3. Make sure to remove plants from intense sunlight since broccoli is sensitive to heat.
How to Water Broccoli
Follow these tips in watering broccoli for successful growth.
1. Ensure to regularly water the plant so it will produce good broccoli heads. The growing season is the best time to keep the soil moist.
2. You should always water the plant at the base
3. Provide the plant with an adequate supply of water of about 32 gallons of water weekly.
4. Be aware that if the soil is over-moisturized, there is every tendency that the plant will perish.
5. You shouldn’t water the plant regularly when it’s at its maturity stage.
How to Feed and Care for Broccoli
To feed broccoli, do the following:
1. After about three weeks of growth, you should feed the plant with a nitrogen boost. You can also provide the soil with manure and compost to increase soil fertility.
2. During planting time, feed with compost. Repeat this process during mid-season for maximum growth.
To care for broccoli, do the following:
1. Remove unwanted plants from the environs of the planting beds. This is because these unwanted plants (weeds) contend with the plant for nutrients and water.
2. The use of floating row covers on the plant will help to protect the seeds from any form of the disease.
3. You should use cutworm collars to protect the young plants
4. The residue from the crop should be removed before winter.
How to Store Broccoli
There are different approaches to storing broccoli, they include;
1. Wrap broccoli in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. This would help preserve the vegetable for about a week.
2. After steaming broccoli, it can be frozen and kept for three months
3. Broccoli is best stored in cans and in the refrigerator.
How to Harvest Broccoli
You should know that the ideal time for harvesting broccoli is early in the morning when the heads are tight and strong.
1. You should harvest your plant before the broccoli flowers. Pay attention to the flower heads. When you see yellow flowers, it shows that it’s time for harvest.
2. Ensure to cut through diagonally and not horizontally. When you cut horizontally, water gathers in the exposed stem. This can rot the plant and also prevent side shoots from blooming.
3. Don’t leave out the stem. Make sure that there are at least 5 inches of stem per broccoli plant.
4. You should soak broccoli in salt water for about thirty minutes before cooking or storing it. This will help chase the hidden cabbage worms.
There are common pests that affect broccoli leaves.
- Cabbage loppers
- Cabbage root maggot
- Cabbage whitefly
- Flea beetles
Carry out these instructions to protect them from these pests.
1. To protect the young plants from cutworms, keep a protective collar around them.
2. You can also kill loopers and warms using the spray with insecticidal soap.
3. You should know that radishes planted near broccoli will drive cabbage maggots away. You should place hot pepper at the stems to keep maggots away from the soul. A mixture of wood ash in the soil can also be of great help.
4. To protect plants from the attacks of flea beetles, ensure that the soil is always moist.
5. To destroy cabbage whiteflies, spray with Bacillus thuringiensis.
6. Pests that bores holes in leaves include caterpillars and moths. Spray with insecticidal soap to drive them away.
7. Cabbage rot flies are known to lay eggs at the bottom of young plants which causes the plants to fall down. To prevent this, chase away the flies using row covers and then get rid of the collapsed plants.
8. Grow onions and thyme near broccoli in a row to keep insects away. This can be done 6 inches away.
9. Insects like green lacewings and ladybugs can help keep the pests away from your broccoli.
There are numerous diseases that affect broccoli varieties.
They include the following:
- Downy mildew
Carry out these instructions to protect them from these diseases
1. Ensure that you plant disease-resistant plants. You should also practice crop rotation every year and regularly clear out debris from the garden.
2. Once you notice infected plants, it is advisable to immediately destroy them.
3. Blackleg disease changes the coloration of the leaves to yellow and also causes v-shaped lesions at the edges of the leaves.
4. You can control diseases like bacterial blight when you indulge in crop rotation.
5. Soil-borne diseases like clubroots cause the root to swell. It also collapses the plant and destroys it. You’ll need to trash the affected plants or even burn them.
6. Planting disease-resistant seeds can help prevent these fungal diseases.
7. Ensure to regularly water the plant and destroy the plants that are affected.
How to Serve Broccoli
There are different ways you can serve your broccoli. They include:
1. You can serve broccoli with hollandaise sauce or cheese
2. When serving with salad, the florets can be shredded and used with dipping sauce.
3. You should know that once cooked, purple broccoli will turn green
4. You should boil the stem from the top and place the stalks in a standing position. This will make sure that the stems are adequately cooked.
5. You can use onion and garlic to parboil your broccoli stalks.
Broccoli has a very high nutritional value so you should include vegetables in your diet. Broccoli grows where the soil is fertile with a pH of 6 to 7. Do not forget to regularly feed your broccoli plants with water for a successful and bountiful harvest.
Kindly share this information and leave a comment below. Happy gardening!
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the frequently asked questions on how to grow broccoli
1. How long does it take to grow broccoli?
This depends on if it was grown from seed or grown from transplanting. It takes 80 to 150 days to harvest seed-grown broccoli while it takes 55 to 80 days to harvest transplanted broccoli.
2. Are Broccoli leaves edible?
Yes, you can eat the leaves because they belong to the cabbage family.