Broccoli is a great vegetable to grow in your garden. It is easy to start from seed, but plants are readily available from garden centers in spring. Broccoli is in the cabbage family along with cauliflower and cabbage and kohlrabi and has similar growing conditions, and suffers the same kind of pests and diseases. So it’s a good idea to plant all your cabbage type plants in the same area and rotate them so as not to carry over diseases from year to year.
Starting Broccoli Indoors
Broccoli can be started from seed four to six weeks before transplanting in the garden. The seed should be started in a good seed starting mix. Don’t use regular potting, or garden soil. Seed starting mix is is sterilized to prevent diseases which can kill the seeds or young plants. Plant the seed about 1/4 inch deep, and then bottom water or water with a mister, so the seed is not washed out. When the seeds germinate put them in a bright location such as a sunny window or under grow lights. In four to six weeks harden them off , ( gradually get them used to the outdoors). Then transplant them into the garden.
Planting Broccoli in the Garden
You can grow broccoli as a spring crop or a fall crop. In the spring it should be started four to six weeks before transplant outside and should be transplanted outside in late April or early May. As a fall crop broccoli should be planted in mid-summer. Broccoli should be planted in a good quality soil with lots of organic matter. Broccoli grows best in full sun although it will take some partial shade. If you are planting seeds plant them about 1/2 inch deep. Seeds or plants should be planted 12 to 24 inches apart in the row, and the rows should be about two to three feet apart.
It should be harvested when the buds are still tight and before any of the yellow flowers open. Don’t pull the plants out, because they will continue to produce side shoots. They don’t grow as big as the main head, but are just as tasty.
Watch Out for Cabbage Moths
One of the main pests of broccoli is a cabbage moth. They lay their eggs on the cabbage type plants (which includes broccoli) and hatch out as little green worms which are actually caterpillars. Since nobody likes to eat the little worms it is recommended that you treat your plants with some sort of pesticide. I recommend Bt or Thuricide, which is a organic naturally occurring disease that kills caterpillars but is harmless to other insects and bees as well as harmless to humans. You should spray your plants every two weeks or after a hard rain.
Broccoli is easy to freeze so I would recommend that you grow extra and freeze some for the winter. So get out there and grow some broccoli it’s a great plant and a very tasty vegetable.