What is Bruce Lee’s vegan brother’s name? Brocco-Lee, of course! This vegetable may not be in the martial arts, but it is certainly a master in the garden. In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about growing broccoli at home.
Bad jokes aside, it’s not hard to grow broccoli, I promise! You will be surprised how well these cabbage crops fit into your garden. Once planted, they require little maintenance, especially if you have an irrigation system in place.
Unlike cauliflower, which is one and done, broccoli will continue to produce edible shoots after the main head is harvested. The leaves, open flowers and seed pods are also edible, so little is wasted. From a nutritional point of view, broccoli provides a good amount of vitamins A, B, C, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, and more. What else can you ask for in a vegetable?
The icing on the cake is that broccoli plants are cool-weather crops, so they are easy to grow in the North. Don’t feel left out if you live in a warm climate-broccoli grows there in winter! So let’s get to know this popular vegetable a little more. Once we are done, you will be able to grow and eat these little tree-shaped florets.
Quick Maintenance Guide
All About Broccoli
The Italica group consists of many varieties, including our 27 favorite varieties of broccoli. Here you will find various flower crowns, from the Broccolini hybrid to the strange-looking Romanesco broccoli. Sometimes it’s best to stick with the basics. You want to grow the Calabrese variety, which is the broccoli that is often found in supermarkets.
We can thank the Mediterranean and Asia Minor for broccoli. It is believed that our favorite green vegetable grew in Roman times, especially in Italy. It was only in the 1700s that this vegetable made its way to England, and a little after to America. Surprisingly, broccoli has only recently become popular in the United States, having gained its fame in the 1920s.
I’m sure you’ve heard that broccoli is a flower, which is 100% correct! The head is entirely composed of tightly grouped, unopened buds supported by sturdy, dense stems. We aim to harvest the broccoli before the flowers open. However, left to their own devices, the buds open in a loose bunch of yellow cruciform flowers (hence the name Crucifers).
The Central head grows on a cushion of large dull green leaves. Just look at the foliage and you will see the similarity with cabbage. The whole plant usually grows 1-2.5 feet high and 1-2 feet wide. Even though it is a perennial, broccoli is usually grown as an annual, especially in colder regions.
Planting Of Broccoli
Due to the growth of broccoli, the deadline is somewhat flexible. You can choose to plant broccoli for a spring harvest, an autumn harvest, or both! In addition, if you live in a warm climate, you can plant in the fall and harvest in the spring. Broccoli will overwinter as long as the temperatures in the garden are not constantly below zero.
For a spring harvest, start broccoli seeds within 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date (after winter to early spring). 3 weeks before this date, harden the seedlings and plant them outdoors. You can also plant broccoli sprouts at this time. Your broccoli heads should be ready to harvest in after spring.
For an autumn harvest, plant broccoli seeds indoors in July. Your goal is to transplant outdoors when the temperature is below 75°F, so you need to adapt it to the climate in your area. Ideally, you can transplant to the garden in mid-August.
Plant the broccoli seedlings in a room with plenty of sun and fertile soil. Crop rotation is an excellent tool for preventing ailments of cabbage crops, so try to plant somewhere that has not grown anything cruciferous for at least 4 years. Growing Broccoli is possible in containers, as long as they are large enough (at least 8″ deep and wide). Growing in pots has the added benefit of allowing you to move your plants into the shade during periods of extreme heat.
Since they are so small, sow only a few centimeters deep. Space them 18 inches and 2 to 3 feet (48 to 36 inches) apart. Germination takes 4 to 7 days and requires temperatures between 45 and 85 ° F. The grafts can be planted a few inches deeper than they were in the container. In addition to a beautiful look, it will help create a more compact plant.
Sun and temperature
Broccoli needs full sun, so we consider 6-8 hours of direct light a day. However, the full sun in combination with warm heat can do more harm than good. You may need to shade the broccoli if the temperature rises above 80 ° F. otherwise, growth may be slowed and the broccoli heads may bolt. Shade cloths are excellent for keeping vegetable plants out of the Heat (look for 30% coverage).
These plants are somewhat susceptible to frost, but usually do well when the temperature stays above 20°F. ideally, however, the garden temperature should be 45 to 75°F.
Loamy soils are preferred, but a variety of soil textures work as long as they have a good balance between drainage and water retention. The soil should be constantly moist, but we never want to drown the roots (even plants need air!). The pH of the soil should be neutral or slightly acidic (6-7).
Keep the soil in the garden rich in organic matter and your broccoli plants will thank you for it! A good supply of nutrients will help them ripen before the end of the broccoli growing season. Add organic matter before planting and periodically as the plants grow.
The best way to provide nutrients to your broccoli plants is to add organic matter to the soil. However, you can apply fertilizer to give your vegetables an extra boost. From transplanting, apply it every few weeks until harvest.
Choose a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. Slow release is often the most convenient, as it will provide nutrients for a longer time. To really help the plant absorb, water the fertilizer after application. When applying fertilizer, avoid touching the plant to avoid burns.
Since it is usually grown as an annual, broccoli is usually propagated only by seeds. Because they are cross-pollinated, the plants of your harvested seeds may not be true to the type. Still, seed preservation is a fun experiment that every gardener should try.
You will have to sacrifice a head of broccoli, allowing it to fully ripen. Choose one that is healthy and let it Bolt, that is, when the head breaks into fluffy bunches of yellow flowers. It’s actually very wildflower-like! After bolting, the seeds begin to grow in the flower stalks. You’ll actually be able to see the stems all around, giving them a pea pod look. This whole process will take at least a few months.
After the pods have dried on the plant, remove the broccoli from the ground and let it dry for another two weeks. Then you can tear off the pods and crush them or twist them to release the seeds. Small round broccoli seeds will last up to 5 years, but it is better to use them as soon as possible. Keep them in a dry, cool place until you are ready to plant.
You can store the broccoli head unwashed in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. If long-term storage is more your style, blanch and freeze the heads for up to 12 months. When blanching, you want to undercook them slightly so they don’t get mushy when thawed. As with any vegetable, the sooner you eat it, the better the quality.
Bolting can be the goal when storing seeds, but it can interfere with a good harvest. When the broccoli bolts, the head separates and stretches the flowers. The yellow flowers can be beautiful, but they are not ideal if you want a compact broccoli flower head.
Hot weather usually leads to bolting, as it makes the plant think that its broccoli growing season is over. You can prevent this by shading the plant at a high temperature. Unfortunately, as soon as a plant pass away, there is no way to fix it – although the flowers are edible.