If you have a vegetable garden, do yourself a favor and learn how to grow broccoli (Brassica oleracea) because growing broccoli is not hard to grow at all!
Broccoli is closely related to Cabbage, Kale, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts and, like these other members of the Brassica genus, requires a fertile soil with good moisture-holding capacity or irrigation. Broccoli, like all related brassicas, is considered a Heavy feeder, so before planting, be sure to add organic compost to your garden soil. Broccoli needs lots of nutrients. A general rule for getting them off to a good start when you learn how to grow broccoli would be to apply composted manure and a bit of firewood ash to the soil before transplanting broccoli seedlings into the main garden.
Broccoli is from a hardy family of plants that develop best during cooler seasons of the year. Two crops per year (spring and fall) are possible in most parts of the country, especially with varieties improved in quicker maturity and heat tolerance that extends the life of broccoli through all but the hottest parts of the season.
If clubroot is a problem, raise the pH by adding lime. pH 6.0-7.5. While more heat-tolerant varieties such as Windsor are being developed, broccoli does not generally do well in hot weather, the best success being with spring and fall crops.
Plant Spacing: Space 15″ apart and where planting in rows, make rows 18″ apart.
Harvesting Broccoli Harvest when the heads are dark green. Before flower buds open, cut center head. hydrocool or ice as soon as possible. Harvest secondary side shoots regularly to encourage continued production. Irrigate regularly. If heads have turned yellow, you’ve waited too long.
For most varieties, small compact heads offer the best flavor. Harvest the central head first. Some varieties will develop small side shoots; these should last 1-2 months or until frost. Cut the stalk so that several inches remain on the plant.
Days to Harvest: Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable that needs from 40 to 90 days to grow to harvestable size depending upon the variety. Broccoli grows best in temperatures ranges from no more than 80°F (27°C) during the day to about 60°F at night. Broccoli is frost hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F.
Temperatures that are too cold or too warm will cause broccoli to bolt without forming a head. Plant broccoli so that it comes to harvest during cool weather.
Common Broccoli Pests
Insects enjoy eating broccoli plants almost as much as we gardeners do. Here are some of the most common broccoli pests and tips for treating broccoli issues associated with them:
Cabbage worms – These pests are the larvae of moths and butterflies. You may notice white or gray moths fluttering around the plant—a sure sign that you’ll soon have problems with their offspring. Cabbage worms cause serious damage by feeding on broccoli leaves. Hand pick as many as you can. Young larvae are easily controlled with insecticides containing Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad.
Aphids – Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that feed on the undersides of broccoli leaves, causing them to become discolored and wrinkled. A strong spray of water from a hose knocks them off the plant. Treat serious infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Broccoli Companions:Aromatic Herbs, Artichoke, Beet, Bush Beans, Celery, Chamomile, Chard, Cucumber, Dill, Lettuce, Peas, Peppermint, Potatoes, Sage, Rosemary, Beets, Onions, Spinach
Incompatible Plants with Broccoli: pole beans, strawberry, tomato.
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