How to Grow Broccoli in Your Home Garden

How to Grow Broccoli in Your Home GardenBroccoli, like its Brassica oleracea family cousins cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, and Brussels sprouts, is known for its nutrient-dense florets and sweet stems. They’re a prolific, crowd-pleasing addition to any vegetable garden, with side shoots that sprout all season, even after the central head or crown is harvested.

How to Grow Broccoli in Your Home

When to Plant Broccoli:

Broccoli’s growing season alternates between spring planting and mid-summer harvest and late summer planting and mid to late-fall harvest. A cool-season crop, such as broccoli, can be planted as soon as the frost is no longer expected in early spring.

How to Grow Broccoli

However, these crops often fade and may die completely during the summer heat. A second planting window for cool-season crops opens up in late summer and early fall; once mature, these species can withstand a light fall frost (in mild climates, they may even continue producing into the winter months).

How to Grow Broccoli:

  1. Choose a site. Broccoli requires at least six hours of direct sunlight per day and nitrogen-rich soil with a pH of 6 or 7. Good soil moisture with no sogginess is essential, so choose a location with good drainage—this could mean raised garden beds.
  2. Prepare the site. Work compost or organic matter into the top layers of soil a week before transplanting seedlings or sowing seeds.
  3. Plant. Broccoli seeds should be planted 12 inches deep and 3 inches apart, while seedlings should be planted 12 inches apart. Plant in rows with 3 feet between them to encourage larger crowns; closer rows will result in smaller main heads but more side shoots.

Broccoli Plant Care:

  • Mulch. Weeds can be controlled by mulching around the base of the plants.
  • Fertilize. To compensate for depleted nitrogen levels, which may be the cause of yellowing leaves, side-dress with blood meal or fertilizer.
  • Companion plant. Aphids will extract the juices from broccoli shoots. Aphids can be deterred by companion planting and a quick leaf rinse with soapy water. Small green caterpillars known as cabbage loopers, cabbage worms, maggots, and flea beetles also cause havoc on the leaves. They can be picked off by hand if possible, or treated in mass with Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural insecticide.
  • Use row covers. To help protect broccoli seedlings, use floating row covers immediately after planting.
  • Prevent infection. Clubroot, a fungal infection, causes wilting plants and misshapen roots. To avoid spreading, the entire plant and root system must be dug up as soon as possible.

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