How & When to Plant Broccoli: 4 Simples Steps
Broccoli is one of the healthiest and tastiest vegetables you can grow, although it gets a bad reputation among kids. In fact, broccoli is packed with essential nutrients and vitamins. As a cool-season crop, you can plant broccoli 6–8 weeks before the last frost for a summer harvest. In warmer climates, you can plant broccoli late in the summer for a fall harvest.
Planting is relatively simple, and anyone with some extra soil can grow their own delicious homegrown broccoli. Let’s check out exactly what you’ll need and how to go about starting your own broccoli today.
Before You Start
First, you’ll have to consider how much sunlight your chosen space gets per day. Broccoli needs 6–8 hours of sunlight, also called full sun, per day. Keep this in mind when choosing the perfect location for your crop.
Broccoli prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH from 6–7. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types, from clay to loam. The only critical thing is for your soil to have ample drainage to carry away excess water, so it doesn’t stagnate and develop mold or harm your plants’ roots.
Other than that, you’ll only need a few basic tools and supplies to start your crop. The low barrier of entry for vegetable growing means anyone can grow their own delicious veggies at a low cost.
You Will Need:
- Broccoli seeds
- Garden shears
- Spray bottle/water hose
- Fertilizer/compost (optional but highly recommended)
The 4 Simple Steps on How to Plant Broccoli
1. Sow Your Seeds
First, thoroughly water the area where you’re planting your broccoli seeds. Using your trowel, dig holes that are ¼ inch deep and 3 inches apart. If you have compost or fertilizer, you can mix that into the soil now.
Place your seeds in the holes and rake the soil back into the hole, lightly tamping it with your trowel. Don’t pack it too tightly because the sprout may struggle to break through hard-packed dirt.
2. Ensure They Get Enough Sun & Water
It takes about 5–10 days for your seeds to sprout, depending on how warm it is and the quality of your seeds. When the soil gets a bit dry, water it. The soil should be moist but never dry enough that the soil cracks. On the other hand, if extra water is trickling away, you’ve watered too much.
Remove any obstacles that could prevent your sprouts from getting enough sun, like awnings, furniture, and other lawn fixtures. As long as you’ve chosen an open area that gets ample sunlight, your plants should thrive.
At the sprouting stage, you can start using liquid fertilizer if you want to give your plants a boost.
3. Thin Your Plants
Broccoli has a bad habit of growing spindly, which you combat by thinning the plants. After several of your plants have grown a few inches, thin out the herd by cutting the spindly plants. Thinning out your crop will encourage the remaining thick plants to keep growing, which improves your final harvest.
Similarly, if you plant your seeds too densely, you’ll have to thin them out when they begin growing. Opt to cut the most spindly plants, which will free up valuable soil space and sunlight. The remaining plants won’t have to compete for nutrients and will grow healthier.
4. Harvest Your Broccoli!
Most varieties of broccoli have a grow time of about 50–60 days, but some take as long as 70–85 days to ripen for harvest. You can tell your broccoli is ready for harvesting when it has a full, dense green head. Fully grown heads can get up to 4–7 inches wide, but size doesn’t necessarily matter.
Using a sharp knife, harvest your broccoli by cutting the stem 3–5 inches below the head. If you see any of your broccoli heads starting to yellow, immediately harvest them.
After you’ve harvested the main heads, you can cut the side shoots that developed heads. Cut these off just below the head, like you harvested the main heads.
Now that you’ve harvested your broccoli, use it to cook as an appetizer, snack, or side to a meal. Broccoli is delicious when steamed, roasted, or sauteed.
Broccoli is a staple in the veggie world, with a huge array of essential vitamins and minerals. Growing broccoli is relatively simple as long as you plant at the right time, trim your plants, and harvest at the right time. Give it a try today and you could have a fresh crop of healthy broccoli ready in just a few months!
Featured Image Credit: zlikovec, Shutterstock