How To Grow Broccoli The Right Way – Never Failed

If you’re looking for a nutrition-packed vegetable that is both quick and easy to grow, you’ve come to the right place! This guide on how to grow broccoli in the garden will help you with that.

How To Grow Broccoli The Right Way

Even when I was young, I never really understood the hatred for broccoli. It’s mild-flavored, great for stir-frys and super healthy, what’s not to like? If you’re still on the fence about it, it’s high time you know just how wonderful this vegetable is. 

First of all, there are tons of health benefits that come with broccoli. It’s a great source for essential vitamins like K and C and is also high in fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium. Plus it’s low in calories! 

Taste-wise, broccoli is really mild-flavored. However, it is true that some people may find it super bitter according to genetics. But the chances of that are super slim. Some people just haven’t given themselves the chance to know this vegetable again. 

Maybe when you were a kid, you were served with poorly-cooked broccoli and that stayed with you but I hope you give it a chance now, otherwise, you’re going to miss out. Try Chinese-style stir-fried broccoli with beef or steamed and buttered broccoli with cheese. 

Those two are always a winner. When you’ve finally rediscovered broccoli, join me in growing them. Trust me, these guys are always part of my garden, and they’ve always rewarded me with a big tasty yield year after year.

Growing Broccoli – Difficulty Level, Maintenance, And Other Advantages

This cool-season crop is fairly simple to grow even from seeds and requires minimal maintenance. Just the usual requirements for the general crops will do: full sun, proper soil conditions, and a relatively moist soil. 

And hey, just think about it. In just 3 to 4 months, you can start harvesting your broccoli! Believe me, those months will pass by in no time. 

Plus, even after you harvest the main head of a broccoli plant, smaller side shoots will still appear which you can harvest and enjoy for months to come. You get continual harvest even without successive plantings—that’s something you can’t do with every other plant. 

You’re gonna breeze through this whole growing process and it’s so gonna be worth it in the end. Even if you’re a beginner gardener, you can grow this plant with little to no problem. But first, you’ll be needing all the information on how to grow broccoli.

Just stick with this complete growing guide for broccoli. I made this for all you home gardeners so I hope you’ll enjoy growing your plants! Good luck!

Planting Broccoli

When is the best time to plant broccoli?

Broccoli is a cool-weather crop. That means it should be ready for harvest before the weather gets too hot. Excessive rise in temperatures will cause your plant to bolt. You don’t want temperatures above 75°F. 

When is the best time to plant broccoli

The best time to plant broccoli depends on where you’re located. In general, it’s best to plant them in the spring. 8 to 6 weeks before the last local frost date in spring, you can start sowing broccoli seed indoors. 

If you’re in an area with mild-winter regions, late summer is the best time to start seeds indoors. Come autumn, they’ll be ready to set out in the garden just in time for winter harvest. 

Those who are located in regions with short seasons and have a cold-winter can opt for a summer planting for a fall harvest.

Choose the best planting time that will work on where your garden is located. Timing is one of the most important aspects when planting broccoli. Remember that the weather can’t be too hot or too cold, or else, the broccoli will go to seed without forming a head. 

How do I start a broccoli plant?

Once you know when’s the perfect time to plant for your area, it’s time to choose where to start from. You can start broccoli from either seeds or transplants. Once you get the timing, starting from seeds wouldn’t be hard for you.

You can always buy a transplant, locally if possible. The closer to your garden it was bought from, the better. This way, it’ll be easier for the transplants to adjust to their new surroundings. Plus, the growing conditions will most likely be the same since it’s bought locally. 

Try your local garden center for available broccoli transplants. Make sure to purchase only healthy and disease-free plants. 

When starting from seeds, make sure you buy from a reliable source. Try this seed packet I got online. It was relatively cheap and produced great results. 

Should I grow broccoli in a pot or grow it in the ground?

You can grow broccoli in garden beds or in pots but I find that it’s best to grow them in the raised beds. This set-up works for me since I usually plant 2 to 4 broccoli plants for each person in my family and I need a big space to do that.

If you have a limited garden space at home, broccoli grows perfectly well in pots. An 8-inch pot with a minimum depth of 20 inches (51 cm) is good for a single broccoli plant. If you wanna grow more plants, you can just add more pots. Set them 18 inches apart. 

Make sure your pots and pots have enough drainage holes. You don’t want your plants to be waterlogged. If you are using pots, make sure you move them into the shade during hot days. 

How do I prepare the soil? 

Broccoli thrives in fertile and well-drained soil. A neutral to slightly alkaline soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5 is recommended according to Texas A&M university. You can test your soil using a soil testing kit but it’s better to have it tested at your local government soil testing lab.

Amend the soil based on the results and recommendations. Do this at least 7 days before planting. 

The soil you should use should also be high in organic matter. Incorporate 3 to 4 inches of compost and well-aged manure into the raised bed to help in moisture retention.

Living somewhere with heavy rain or sandy soil? I suggest you add aged-compost to the soil to supplement soil nitrogen. This will help in the production of broccoli heads. 

How do I plant the broccoli?

Sow broccoli seeds indoors. If you’re doing a spring planting, start 7 to 9 weeks before your last local frost date. For a fall crop, start 10 to 12 weeks before the first fall frost. Get a seedling tray and fill it with a seed-starting mix. Sow each seed ¼ to ½ (6-8 mm) inch deep into the mix.

How do I plant the broccoli

Cover the seeds with the mix. Water gently, the mix should moist not wet. 

Be patient, in 5 to 10 days, the seeds should germinate. It will prefer a temperature of 77°F (25°C) during this stage. 

Once the seedlings reach 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) in height and produce 2 to 4 leaves, it’s time to transplant them on to their final location. Choose an area where it can get full sun. It can tolerate partial shade but it will thrive in full sun.

Place the transplants slightly deeper than the size they were on the seedling tray. Give plants 18 to 24 inches (45-60 cm) of space between each other and space rows 36 inches (.9 m) apart.

To finish, fertilize the newly transplanted seedlings with an organic fertilizer like fish emulsion but only at half strength.

For 2 to 3 weeks after transplanting, covering the seedlings with a cloche. A cold frame or plastic tunnel will do too. This is to protect them from the cold.

Growing Broccoli

How and when do I thin my broccoli plant?

We sow seeds indoors in separate sections on the seedling tray and placed the transplants with proper spacing so thinning is not really required. 

How much water does my broccoli plant really need? 

During the germination stage, the seed-starting mix should be kept moist. During the growing season, the soil must be kept moist as well. Only decrease watering once the plants approach maturity. 

Remember to water your broccoli plant at its base. Once your plants are developing broccoli heads, see to it that you do not let it get wet, otherwise, it might rot. Doing this in the late morning is ideal. 

Consider adding mulch to keep soil temperatures down and help in moisture retention. 

How often does my broccoli plant need to be fertilized? 

The organic fertilizer added during the planting stage will go a long way for this hardy plant. Fish emulsion (half strength) is a great organic fertilizer, you can use this for the broccoli plants. 

After the initial application of the fertilizer during the planting stage, a monthly application of a balanced organic fertilizer (like fish emulsion) will provide your plants with enough nutrients for the whole duration of the growing season. 

In the mid-season, side dress the broccoli plants with well-aged compost.

How much sun does my broccoli plant need?

How much sun does my broccoli plant need

Select a location where your broccoli plant can receive 6 hours of full sun. Actually, I’ve seen broccoli plants grow just as well with 4 to 5 hours of sunlight daily. But if you go any lower than that, you’ll end up with a very dull looking plant. 

Broccoli is sensitive to heat, once the weather starts getting hot, consider adding a shade cover in order to help keep the soil in lower temperature. 

Broccoli grown in pots should also be moved into the shade during excessively hot days. 

Which climate better suits broccoli? (Best Hardiness Zones)

If you followed the guidelines and planted in early spring, you’ll have a summer harvest ready before temperatures go up more than 75°F. Broccoli is heat sensitive and prone to bolting so this works for you. 

If you’re in an area with mild-winter regions, late summer is the best time to start seeds indoors. Come autumn, they’ll be ready to set out in the garden just in time for winter harvest.

Those who are located in regions with short seasons and have a cold-winter can opt for a summer planting for a fall harvest.

Generally, temperatures between 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit are preferred by broccoli plants. Broccoli is also frost hardy. This plant can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F. 

It can be grown perfectly well in USDA Zones 3 through 10.

How long does it take to grow broccoli?

When grown from seed, it will take about 70 to 100 days for broccoli plants to produce firm broccoli heads. If you started from transplants, you’ll only need 55 to 85 days, a much shorter time since you’ve skipped germination to early stages of seedling formation. 

Harvest regularly to prevent the head from flowering and to encourage the plant to produce side shoots. This will effectively prolong your harvest time. Do not delay harvesting, especially when you see the head forming yellow petals. 

If left like that, the quality of broccoli you’ll get will decrease more and more. 

What are the common diseases and pests that could ruin my broccoli plant and how do I avoid it?

Broccoli is generally an easy plant to grow and quite hard to kill. But it’s a member of the cabbage family, so you know what the means…If you’re not familiar with the problems encountered while growing a plant from the mustard family, I’ll give you a hint: Pests.

Your broccoli plant will be highly susceptible to pests such as cabbage looper, cabbage worms, cutworms, flea beetles and aphids. 

Slugs might be a problem too, but you can just easily pick them off by hand and get them out of your garden. If planted in raised beds, that helps too. It will be harder for the slugs to infiltrate your plants. 

The best way to counter or even avoid these problems is by monitoring your plant closely. Always check for signs of eggs or even feeding. Most of these pests can be removed by hand or by a jet of water. 

Once you identify the pest, treat your plant accordingly. 

In terms of diseases, there aren’t really any serious ones that you need to be worried about. If your garden is clean and you water them properly, you’ll be fine. Plus, I suggest you water in the late morning so by night time, the excess water would have dried already. 

One disease you might encounter is Powdery Mildew. To check if infected, here are the symptoms: stunted and shriveled leaves as well as white powdery deposits over the leaf surface. See to it that the soil is kept moist to avoid this problem.

Also, remember to not get the developing heads wet as it may rot them. 

Again, broccoli is very hard to kill so there is no need to get nervous. Though don’t neglect your plants completely. Even if they’re low-maintenance, they still need a bit of caring and monitoring. 


What other crops could I plant together with my broccoli to maximize my garden space?

If you’re a relatively long time gardener you might already know about companion planting and are now looking for more plants to grow with your newly grown broccoli. If you’re a beginner, however, you might not be familiar with companion planting at all.

Let me help you out. The idea behind companion planting is simple. There are certain plants that are better when grown together. Some of the benefits they can get from each other include natural pest control, higher crop yield and shade protection for sun-sensitive plants. 

For example, planting herbs like basil, thyme, sage, and rosemary next to your broccoli will help repel pests like cabbage worms, loopers, maggots and moany more away from your precious plants. These culinary herbs are excellent natural pest repellants

To improve the flavor of your broccoli, consider planting them next to garlic (one of the best companion plants ever), celery, shallots, onions,  leeks, and potatoes.

Here are some of the ideal plants to grow near broccoli:

  1. Basil
  2. Mint
  3. Chamomile
  4. Oregano
  5. Hyssop
  6. Marigolds
  7. Nasturtiums
  8. Leeks
  9. Potatoes
  10. Garlic

And so many more! But I’m gonna cut it at ten or we’ll run out of space for them. I hope this provided you a glimpse of what your garden could be in the future.  Maybe it’s time to maximize your garden space and plant some more herbs, veggies and fruits!

What are the crops that will not go well with broccoli?

Just as there are good plant neighbors, there are also bad plant neighbors for broccoli. The growing conditions between broccoli and these plants just clash with each other. Most of the time, when planted together, they may even harm one another.

What are the crops that will not go well with broccoli

For example, planting broccoli together with other members of the cabbage family makes a big chunk of your would-be garden susceptible to the pests that specifically attacks them like the cabbage maggots and loopers. 

When planted together, your plants will look like open-buffet for these pests. Planting near together just wouldn’t help either party. 

Here are some of the bad plant neighbors for broccoli:

  1. Cabbage
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Kale
  4. Kohlrabi
  5. Brussel sprouts
  6. Pole beans
  7. Strawberries
  8. Sweet corn
  9. Squash
  10. Grapes

Harvesting Broccoli

How do I harvest broccoli and when is the best time to do it?

In 45 to 75 days after transplanting, you can start harvesting your broccoli heads. Harvest regularly and do not delay it since the increasing hot weather is your main obstacle. Plus. delaying your harvest time will just cause your broccoli heads to flower, diminishing their quality. 

How do I harvest broccoli and when is the best time to do it

Harvest during the early morning, when it’s relatively cool. Once the broccoli head is fully developed just before it starts to flower, start harvesting. Check if it’s firm and tight. By this time, your broccoli heads are already 4 to 7 inch (10 to 18 cm.) long. 

The tighter and denser the broccoli head is, the better. 

How do you harvest broccoli? Simple, just use a sharp knife to remove the central flower head. Cut it on an angle. Cutting it flat may let the water pool on top of it and may cause it to rot.

I suggest you leave the broccoli plant in the ground after and allow it to produce side shoots (flower heads). 

This will turn into broccoli heads but much smaller than the main one. Doing this will prolong your harvest period and will let you enjoy your broccoli plants for more weeks to come. 

When the plant has bolted ( already flowering), it’s too late to harvest it. Immediately remove the whole head with a sharp knife to encourage the plant to focus its energy now on creating side shoots instead of flowers. 

What is the best way to store the broccoli that I have harvested?

After harvesting broccoli, if you’re not gonna use it for the day, place it immediately on the refrigerator. It will keep for 3 to 5 days. Do not wash it prior to storing because as you may have noticed, wet broccoli heads are really prone to brotting and you don’t want that.

I’ve tried bleaching my broccolis before freezing them and guess what? They were able to last for about 12 months! 

I encourage you to cook and eat your fresh-picked broccoli as soon as you harvest them. Fresh home-grown broccoli tastes the best! And they’re much much more nutrient-dense than the store bought ones.

Try different recipes. There are so many ways to enjoy your newly harvested broccoli and I know you’re excited to share them too. Why not cook some hearty meal with a steamed broccoli with steak on the side. 

If you want something simpler, try stir-frying them and pair with a bowl of white rice. Yum!

FEATURED TABLE

Botanical Name Brassica oleracea, Italica group
Plant Type Vegetable
Sun Exposure Full sun 
Soil Type Sandy
Soil pH Slightly Acidic to Neutral
Bloom Time
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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