Planting and Growing Broccoli

by David Schulze

This page talks about planting and growing broccoli. It gives many helpful tips and practical advice based on David's own gardening experiences.

First of all, read germination tips.

Broccoli can be grown in all seasons, if you have the right variety. Make sure you have the right broccoli for your area.

There are only two colors for broccoli. Green and purple, but mostly green. Even hybrids are limited to the two colors.

Broccoli prefers a well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter with a pH of 6.0-7.5. Prefers a consistent supply of moisture throughout the growing season. Irrigate regularly for best results.

For disease and insect control, talk to a master gardener in your area or contact your extension agent. Each county has one. If your broccoli has a bitter taste, increase the amount of water you are giving them. They will need at least one inch a week.

Plant in a location that receives full sun. Supply adequate levels of nitrogen to keep the plants productive over a long season. If your soil is not high in fertility, side dressing may be needed.

Start seeds in early spring, March through April, and transplant as soon as temperatures have moderated. Do not transplant until after the last frost, as seedlings have less tolerance to cold than older plants.

For fall harvests: Fall harvests can be achieved in any location, regardless of climate. Start seeds in June–July, depending on your location and transplant approximately 4 weeks later. The problem starting seeds in July here would be the heat. It may be best to wait until September.

Before transplanting out into the garden, make sure you follow some sort of hardening off process.

When plants are six inches tall and the temperature is okay, transplant outside and use a transplant solution. Plant seedlings at least 18 inches apart. Broccoli leaves can get very large so leave plenty of room for growth.

Use an organic fertilizer and follow the manufacturer's direction.

Harvest broccoli when the heads are full and compact, but before they start separating and forming flowers for seed production.

Harvested broccoli should be eaten within four to seven days. If you are going to freeze it, then do so within 24 to 48 hours to maintain freshness. Make sure you blanch the broccoli before you freeze it.

Frozen broccoli will last about six months in the freezer. Or you can pickle it using a bath canner. Pickled broccoli will last about one year.

Because of the low acid in broccoli, it cannot be canned like bush beans.

If you are looking for seed production from open pollinated varieties, then let the florets turn into stalks. Stalks will then produce flowers. Flowers will produce pods. Each pod will have 4 to 6 seeds in it. You can get thousands of seeds from one plant. Of course you may have to cover them because birds will like them as well. I found this out the hard way when I had some almost ready to harvest and the birds got them. In one night they ate thousands of seeds.

Some broccoli will produce side shoots once the main head is harvested. These can be eaten as well.

At the end of the season, insect-free and disease-free plants can be put in the compost bin. The best way to accomplish this is to shred the plants.

If the plants have insects or disease, put in a plastic bag and throw in the trash can. If no insects or diseases, compost it.

If broccoli has a bitter taste trying giving it more water. Of course if you harvest it, or it starts heading, then it is too late.

We had our first broccoli harvest (January 2021) here on the farm. The heads were nice and tight like they needed to be. We washed and cooked them. They had a bit of a grit taste to them. We grow in sand and this had to be what it was.  We will have to wash it better. Probably the same with our cauliflower.

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