How to Grow Broccoli
I have a love/hate relationship with broccoli.
I love to grow it, but have had some serious cabbage worm encounters in the past. I haven’t given up on broccoli because I love a cheesy, broccoli casserole.
This year has been a roaring success in the broccoli growing world. I don’t know if it was the weather, luck or the DE (Diatomaceous Earth). The stars aligned and I have had a bountiful broccoli experience.
Broccoli is one of the few plants that I don’t start from seed.
You can start broccoli from seed if you have a long growing season, or want to grow plants in your house for 2 months. I don’t… so, I buy the seedlings from the closest hardware store.
Broccoli grows during cooler weather and can be grown twice in most areas (spring and fall). Broccoli is pretty cooperative and will continue to grow and produce even in hot weather. This means I eat broccoli from early summer until late fall. Which is great.
First, get your hands on some seedings. You can grow them or buy them.
Next, clean and clear your bed.
Plant seedlings 18-24 inches apart. If you have deep, rich soil (raised beds) you can plant them closer.
It is a good idea to mulch around your broccoli plants with straw or other organic debris.
This will do 3 things:
- Contain moisture (broccoli like consistent moisture in the soil)
- prevent weeds
- and keep soil cool (which discourages the plant to go to seed in warmer weather)
There is a rumor going around that you can prevent the little yellow butterflies (mature cabbage worms) from depositing their evil offspring (cabbage worms) on your broccoli by shoving the broccoli heads into some pantyhose.
Well, let me be the first to bust this myth. Liars.
Even when there is a queen size stocking over the broccoli head, this does not prevent the butterflies from pooping their eggs onto the leaves & stems.
Furthermore, the eggs will eventually become worms that will crawl right under your nylons and contaminate the broccoli.
Additionally, the stockings over the broccoli heads creates a horrible moldy environment that makes for terrible broccoli.
So, don’t do it.
If you have a cabbage worm problem – go get some DE (Diatomaceous Earth) and sprinkle it all over your plants – problem solved. Be sure to reapply after it rains. More on DE here.
When the heads are formed, watch your broccoli closely, you want to harvest them when the buds are still closed tightly.
If the buds begin to open or show yellow- harvest them immediately. If the buds open (even slightly) the broccoli will have a gritty, mealy texture.
After you harvest the center head, leave the plants in the garden.
They will form smaller shoots off the sides of the stalk.
I usually get bigger heads from broccoli grown in fall (versus spring).
I store broccoli in zipper top storage bags for several weeks in the refrigerator (I put a paper towel in the bag to control moisture).