Growing Broccoli Harvest and Storage – how to grow broccoli HELPFUL
Broccoli is a hardy vegetable that develops best during cool seasons of the year. Two crops per year (spring and fall) are possible in most parts of the country, especially with continuous improvement in fast maturity and heat tolerance that extends the life of broccoli through all but the hottest parts of the season. It belongs to the cole crop family (Brassica oleracea), which includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi.
Broccoli would have to be one of my favorite plants to grow.. It starts off with a nice tidy little head of green goodness only to go onto providing you with countless meals of side shoots for months to come..
We were concerned that we didn’t plant enough broccoli for the season but we have started to be flooded with side shoots from a few of the plants.. We now have the second crop starting to produce as well so I think we will be sorted for broccoli until the start of Summer now at this rate
Also posted the recipe for the salad on our blog if you are interested..
Broccoli needs cool weather, full sun, water, and rich soil. Plant your broccoli where it will get least 6 hours of sun daily and has fertile, well-drained, moist soil with plenty of organic matter. Mulch will help keep the ground cool and moist. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for best growth and to discourage clubroot disease. To be sure about your soil pH, it is best to get the soil tested. You can buy a kit or have a soil test done through your regional Cooperative Extension office. Adjust the pH with lime, if needed, according to the test results.
For good growth, mix plenty of nitrogen-rich amendments such as cottonseed meal or composted manure into the soil. Or, you may mix in a granular organic fertilizer or a coated, timed-release vegetable food such as 14-14-14 according to label directions. Or fertilize regularly with a liquid formula such as Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food beginning when you plant. Use according to label directions; plants love the liquid feeding. If this sounds like a lot of options, it is. Gardeners develop their favorite way of doing things over time. With broccoli, the important thing is rich soil and there is more than one way to achieve that.
Plant at the spacing stated on the Bonnie label. Generally, broccoli plants should be 18 inches apart. If planted in rows, space rows 24 inches apart to give yourself enough room to walk between them, but you can plant two or three abreast in a row to minimize aisle space.
Broccoli likes steady moisture to grow fast and produce good heads. An organic mulch of compost, finely ground leaves, or finely ground bark will help keep the soil cool and moist and keep down weeds. In cold climates, it’s the opposite, you may need to plant through black plastic in early spring to help warm the soil or leave the ground without mulch so that the sun can warm it.
Water regularly, applying 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week if rain doesn’t cover it. You can measure the amount of water with a rain gauge left in the garden. If your soil is not naturally rich in nitrogen from abundant earthworms and regular additions of organic, nitrogen-rich amendments, then fertilize the plants again with a liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion or Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food as they begin to develop new leaves and continue liquid feeding until the heads are nearly ready to harvest.
Broccoli Disease and Pest Prevention Tips
Leaf-eating caterpillars — including army worms, cabbageworms, and cabbage loopers — like to feast on broccoli leaves. In summer, harlequin bugs and grasshoppers can devastate young plants. Prevent these problems by growing plants beneath row covers. Read The No-spray Way to Protect Plants for details on using row covers.
When insect pressure is light, keep plants healthy by watching them closely and picking pests by hand. Weekly sprays with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) or spinosad will control cabbageworms, the most serious broccoli pest.
Plants that suddenly collapse may have been hit by cabbage root maggots, which are rice-sized fly larvae that feed on broccoli roots. In areas where this pest has been seen before, plant seedlings deeply, pressing the soil firmly around the stems. Prevent adults from laying eggs by covering the ground around each plant with a square of window screen or lightweight cloth.
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