Growing Broccoli

Growing Broccoli

Growing broccoli is an excellent choice for your garden. It’s a cool weather crop and is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can grow.

Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family. It is high in DIM (diindolylmethane). DIM is known to help protect the body against the development of cancer. Broccoli is a super vegetable to grow and eat.

There are several good varieties of broccoli. Check with your state extension service to see which varieties grow best in your area.

Planting Broccoli

Starting the Plants from Seed

Broccoli grows best when planted in the garden as a seedling plant. You can start your seeds indoors or you can buy broccoli plants from the nursery.

Plant the broccoli seeds indoors about 6 weeks before you want to plant them outside. They can be planted in the garden about 3 weeks before the frost-free date. See Vegetable Planting Guide.

Broccoli Seedlings

Plant the seeds in starting soil. You can make your own starting soil by mixing: 1/3 part large Vermiculite, 1/3 part Perlite, and 1/3 part Sphagnum Peat Moss.

Keep the soil moist while the seeds are germinating. The seeds will germinate a few days after you plant them. The optimum temperature for germination is 80° F, but the temperature can get as low as 45°F.

When the broccoli plants are about 2 inches tall they should be transplanted into little individual pots.

The growing soil can be made by mixing: ¼ part Peat Moss, ¼ part large Vermiculite, ¼ part Perlite, and ¼ part composted ground bark.

If you’re going to keep them in the house, put the young growing broccoli under a grow light. This will keep them from getting spindly. Or you can grow them out in a hot bed or green house.

For complete details see starting seeds indoors.

Transplanting the Broccoli into the Garden

Immature Broccoli

Prepare your garden soil by adding liberal amounts of manure and 16-16-16- fertilizer to the soil. Rototill the manure and fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. This will help keep the nutrients around the roots of the plant. Rake the soil back to the center of the row and even out the soil before planting your broccoli plants.

Hot Caps



The growing broccoli seedlings should be planted 16-18 inches apart. This leaves plenty of room for the plant to develop. Putting a hot cap over the plants gives them a good start in the spring and will protect them from a hard freeze.

Once the plants get well rooted, they grow fast in the cool spring temperatures.

They should be watered twice a week in hot weather and once a week in cool temperatures.

Bug Problems

Bug problems (aphids love broccoli) are greatly minimized by keeping the plants spaced far enough apart. Cut off the side shoots regularly to keep the plant open.

If you start to have aphids infest the plant you may need to spray the plants with Malathion.

Main Head of Broccoli & Side Shoots

Harvesting Broccoli

The growing broccoli will develop a large central head. Watch them carefully as they develop, and harvest them when have a good tight head.

After the central head has been harvested, the plants will develop smaller side shoots of good broccoli. Be sure to cut off these side shoots before they go to seed.

Broccoli goes to seed quickly.

By following this procedure, you can have broccoli all summer long.

Fall Crop of Broccoli

If you want a fall crop of broccoli, you can start seedlings indoors or plant the seeds directly into the soil. Start the new broccoli plants about 65-70 days before it freezes in your area. Be sure to thin the plants so that they’re 16-18 inches apart.

Harvesting Broccoli Seeds

If you want to harvest seeds, plant a broccoli variety that is not a hybrid. Let one the plants go to seed and wait for the seeds to mature. You will have an abundance of seeds for next year’s planting.

Stay healthy and eat lots of garden fresh broccoli.

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