How to Grow the Best Broccoli You’ll Ever Eat
Whether it’s raw, roasted, steamed, or sautéed, broccoli is delicious. And it’s brimming with good stuff, including vitamins (C, K, and A), folate, manganese, and fiber.
We love it!
The problem? It can be a bit pricey in the produce aisle. Luckily, you can easily grow your own broccoli. And in this brief guide, we’ll show you how.
Types of Broccoli
You have two primary kinds of broccoli to choose from:
- Large-headed broccoli is likely what comes to your mind when you think of broccoli. These plants produce big, domed heads of tightly clustered florets.
- Sprouting broccoli tends to grow in a bushier fashion and produce more, but smaller, heads compared to large-headed varieties. (One popular variety yields purple heads, making it a fun crop for kids!)
You may have heard of other plants, such as Romanesco broccoli and broccoli raab. Technically, these aren’t true broccoli varieties. (Romanesco is more similar to cauliflower, raab closer to the turnip family.)
But if you’d like to try them, growing methods and plant requirements are very similar to true broccoli.
How to Plant Broccoli
Like kale and spinach, broccoli is a cool season crop, growing best when temperatures stay between 60–75˚F. If conditions are too cold for too long (e.g., below 40˚F for several days in a row) or get too hot too quickly, broccoli will bolt — resulting in loose, mealy heads.
So if you want to grow broccoli in the spring, you should start your seeds indoors about six weeks before your final frost and transplant them outside four weeks later. If you’re growing broccoli in the fall, you should start your plants about three months before your first frost date.
Of course, you also have the option to grow broccoli indoors. And in that case, it doesn’t really matter when you start seeds.
Tower Tip: Broccoli grows best in full sun. But partial shade can help prevent bolting in warmer months.
Ready to plant? Place four to six broccoli seeds in each rockwool cube, and expect them to germinate within about a week. Keep in mind that broccoli germinates best when temperatures are in the 60–70˚F range.
Your seedlings are ready to transplant once they’re three inches tall and have roots growing out of the rockwool. Before you transplant, thin out the weakest seedlings in each cube. (And enjoy them as nutrient-rich microgreens!) This will help ensure the strongest, healthiest plants have all the resources they need to continue growing.
Tower Tip: For step-by-step instructions on starting seeds and transplanting seedlings, reference page 7 of the Tower Garden Growing Guide.
Broccoli plants get big. (We’re talking more than two feet in both height and spread.) So for best results, plant broccoli near the bottom of your Tower Garden.
Beating Broccoli Pests
Of all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is one of the least prone to pests and plant diseases. And Tower Garden reduces risks of problems like that, too.
That said, the following pests can affect broccoli:
- Cabbage loopers
- Flea beetles
- Downy mildew
How to Harvest Broccoli
After 80–100 days, your broccoli heads should be ready to harvest. But you can harvest leaves long before that time.
Yep, that’s right.
Broccoli leaves are not only edible, but also highly nourishing and as versatile as broccoli heads. (Here are four ideas for using broccoli leaves, brought to you by Juice Plus+.) To harvest broccoli leaves, simply cut them from the plant, always allowing a few to remain and keep growing.
When your broccoli plant produces heads that are firm and tight, harvest them quickly — before they flower — considering the following:
- You should cut heads (along with about six inches of stem) at a slant to keep water from pooling in the main stalk and causing rot.
- After the primary head is harvested, you can continue to harvest side shoots for several weeks.
- If you don’t enjoy your homegrown harvest right away, you can blanch and freeze your broccoli to preserve it.
Tower Tip: Want more plant tips? Browse our growing guides »
Over to You
Excited to grow the best broccoli you’ll ever eat? By growing broccoli with Tower Garden, you’ll be able to harvest and enjoy it at the peak of freshness. (Plus, not much beats the taste of something you’ve grown yourself!)
If you have any questions about growing broccoli, please leave a comment below.
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