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Growing Broccoli

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
  S P P                

(Best months for growing Broccoli in USA - Zone 5a regions)

S = Plant undercover in seed trays P = Sow seed

  • Easy to grow. Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 45°F and 86°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 14 - 20 inches apart
  • Harvest in 10-16 weeks. Cut flowerhead off with a knife..
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Dwarf (bush) beans, beets, celery, cucumber, onions, marigold, nasturtium, rhubarb, aromatic herbs (sage, dill, chamomile, oregano)
  • Avoid growing close to: Climbing (pole) beans, tomato, peppers (chilli, capsicum), eggplant (aubergine), strawberry, mustard
  • Early stage
    Early stage
  • Nearly ready for harvest
    Nearly ready for harvest
  • Side shoot regrowth after main head cut
    Side shoot regrowth after main head cut

Keep well-watered as seedlings. If left without water they will bolt to seed and be inedible. The plants should grow to develop plenty of large healthy leaves, then the green flowerheads follow, which are cut for eating. Leave the plant growing after cutting the main flowerhead, and get additional crops from the sideshoots which will develop.

Watch for cabbage white butterflies and remove the eggs and caterpillars as soon as possible.

There are two main types of broccoli. The purple sprouting is hardier. The heading varieties cope well with warmer weather.

Once a plant opens its yellow flowers then it is generally past eating as the flavour gets a bit overpowering and the plant gets very woody. Harvest them sooner rather than later.

'Broccolini' is a variety grown for the edible stalks. Grow fast with plenty of water and food, and pick as soon as possible.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Broccoli

The stem (peeled), leaves, and flowerhead are all edible.

Steam for best flavour. Peel large stalks, slice and steam.
Goes well with blue cheese sauce.

Your comments and tips

28 Apr 11, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Amy (zipcode 22025). You sent us a lot of questions but I cannot answer you because you did not include an email address. Please send me your address if you would still like some answers? Liz
09 Feb 12, Lee-Ann Connolly (USA - Zone 8a climate)
Hello When you say PLANT in garden is that the seed to plant in the garden where they going to grow or seedlings ? Many Thanks Lee-Ann
10 Feb 12, Stephanie (Australia - arid climate)
Thanks I was wondering the same thing. Also if it says plant in garden, but you cant yet because you are waiting for, say, your tomatos to finish, should you plant in seed trays instead?
11 Feb 12, peter (Australia - temperate climate)
if you look at the planting 'timetable' it indicates sowing seed in Feb and PLANTING out seedlings 4-6 weeks later. So, yes I'd be getting seeds into trays now ready to plant out when your tommys finish =)
08 May 12, Linda (USA - Zone 7a climate)
Hi I live in new jersey. I cant seem to grow Broccoli. I tried two years and no good. The plants goes to seed every time. Please if you can write me back. I really dont know whats going on. Thank you Linda
10 Mar 14, GJX (USA - Zone 5a climate)
Keep well-watered as seedlings. If left without water they will bolt to seed and be inedible. The plants should grow to develop plenty of large healthy leaves, then the green flowerheads follow, which are cut for eating. Leave the plant growing after cutting the main flowerhead, and get additional crops from the sideshoots which will develop. This cool-season crop grows best when daytime temperatures are in the 60s F. Grow in both spring and fall, but avoid mid-summer crops as hot weather can cause premature bolting.
21 Aug 12, Deanna (USA - Zone 9b climate)
I have fabulous success with broccoli year after year. I have a couple of tips that help prevent/delay bolting and a question. Tips: Keep broccoli moist. Never let it dry, especially during warmer weather. To retain moisture and drastically reduce weeds, use a heavy mulch. I use hay and I add a layer as soon as the bottom layer starts to break down. One bale of hay will mulch about 100' sq and costs about five bucks. I grow my broccoli with collards, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots and onions during the cooler weather and with whatever survives, pops up or I get around to planting (cause we have 5 growing seasons here). Now the question: Although I can grow broccoli that's so green it's blue, is 4' tall and 6' around and produces side shoots for three months...my husband HATES the variety! I'm aware of the difference in the flavor of this particular variety (Waltham 29). It has an extremely dense taste, similar to asparagus, which I love, but Eddie refuses to eat it so it's pointless to grow it! Any suggestions on a heading variety (heat tolerant) that's more like the market variety? I collect my seed, so I try to find heirlooms, open pollenated.
10 Mar 14, GJX (USA - Zone 5a climate)
Deanna, 9b should be toward California. Try these: Hybrids such as Italian green type also called green sprouting broccoli or calabrese These types take from 75 to 140 days to grow once in the ground too the table.

Hello When you say PLANT in garden is that the seed to plant in the garden where they going to grow or seedlings ? Many Thanks Lee-Ann

- Lee-Ann Connolly

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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