Healthy Heads & Fabulous Florets!
Broccoli Growing Guide
Talk about a superfood! Broccoli is easy to grow, incredibly healthy, and flavorful whether raw, steamed, or cooked as part of your favorite dish. Broccoli belongs to the Brassica family of vegetables, the largest vegetable family known, which includes cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, and rutabaga. In fact, broccoli is nearly identical to cauliflower, the only differences being the green color of broccoli and the fact that cauliflower tolerates heat while broccoli does not.
For faster crops and a longer growing season, start broccoli seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost in your area. The seeds are ready to transplant outdoors when they're approximately 6 inches in height. Set them 12-18 inches apart in rows spaced every 18-24 inches. If planting a second crop for a fall harvest, seeds can be planted directly into the garden in late July or early August (6-8 weeks before the first expected frost). Plant seeds ½ inch deep in rows 18-24 inches apart. Broccoli likes rich, heavily-mulched soil. When transplanting, add bone meal to the soil around the plant to encourage and support healthy growth.
Broccoli is a cold weather vegetable and can germinate in soil as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, making it easy to grow in a variety of areas. If seedlings are already in the garden and an unexpected frost is in the forecast, covering your plants will help them endure the temperature drop. As with all vegetables, provide consistent soil with regular watering and keep up with weeding to nurture the best growing conditions.
With sprouting broccoli specifically, harvesting frequently is recommended. The more sprouts that are harvested, the more the plant will produce. With heading broccoli, harvest the heads while the florets are still tight. Once the head begins to produce yellow flowers, the broccoli turns bitter to the taste.
Take a minimum of 6 inches of stem when removing broccoli from the garden. If side shoots have begun to grow, they will continue to do so. Broccoli plants will continue to grow new heads throughout the season, especially when planted in areas with cooler summers.
Did you know? Broccoli is a very disease-resistant vegetable and its love of cooler weather makes its growing season extra-long. You can even plant two crops, one in the spring for enjoying in late summer and one in the summer for fabulous feasting in the fall.