When you pick vegetables straight from your own garden, they taste better. There’s just something about a freshly picked stalk of broccoli or string bean that satisfies the palate more than store-bought produce. Fortunately, you don’t need to work too hard to have broccoli readily available. The plant is easy to grow and doesn’t take long to reproduce. Once mature, you can use it to make all sorts of tasty meals. Here you’ll learn how to grow broccoli at home in a few simple steps.
So Many Types
One day soon I’ll write another article on the dozens of different broccolis. Suffice to say that in addition to all the different types (chinese broccoli, broccoli rabe, broccolini, romanesco, etc.), each of these has dozens of different varieties. All the different images in this article (and what’s probably pictured in the dictionary next to “broccoli”) are of the Calbrese type: thick stem and large head with tight florets, and that’s what we’ll focus on.
Within that type, you’ll still need to pick which variety you want. This will mostly depend on where you live and whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors. More on that later.
What You Need to Grow Broccoli
Growing broccoli doesn’t require much in the way of materials, but before you get started, you need to decide how you want to grow the vegetable. To grow broccoli indoors, you need:
- Broccoli seeds
- Seed starter
- Peat pots
- Large-sized pots
- Potting soil
To start growing broccoli from seed to an outdoor garden bed, you need even fewer materials. You can start the seeds directly in the soil or choose to grow them in peat pots first, and then transfer them to your home garden. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on growing broccoli indoors. I enjoy being able to grow in my kitchen, where they are ready to be harvested and eaten at any time. It’s also easier to remember to care for the plants, and they really don’t take up much space.
How to Grow Broccoli: Step by Step
Are you ready to grow? Follow these steps and get gardening in no time.
1. Choose Your Seeds
The first thing you need to do is pick your seeds with some care and consideration. As mentioned above, there are many different types of broccoli and you should pick a type that works the best for your growing needs.
For outdoor growing, consider the weather in your region and decide which seed types will thrive in your area. We recommend Eastern Magic if you live in the northeastern region of North America. The Belstar is better for those who live in more temperate climates, like the south. Even if you plan on keeping your plant indoors, you should consider how much sun they will get.
Generally for indoor growing, we would use Waltham 29 seeds because they produce compact plants. They are also fine outdoors for all but the very hottest and coldest areas of the US.
Gaea's Blessing Seeds Organic Waltham 29 Broccoli Seeds
All-weather organic seeds that will work well for both indoor and outdoor planting.
In general you should keep in mind that broccoli does not do well in extremely hot climates. If you live in an area with high summer temperatures, you should be sure to plant your seeds during a cooler time of year.
2. Plant the Seeds
After you pick out the seeds, it’s time to get dirty. For the best results, start your seeds off in peat pots with seed starter soil. You only need to place one to two seeds per pot. Cover each seed with a thin layer of soil, ensuring that the seed will get enough sunlight to germinate. Then, give each pot a little water.
To keep the seeds protected from the elements, let them germinate indoors. Place them on a windowsill or in another area that gets direct sunlight. Another option is to plant your seeds directly in your garden bed, but you need to be sure to do so when the ground is workable.
Although you don’t need to plant your seeds in peat pots, doing so makes transplanting your seedlings much easier.
3. Transplant Your Seedlings
After about four to six weeks, your seedlings will be ready to go into your pot. If your broccoli is going outside, wait until the last frost to plant them in your garden bed.
Transplanting them is as simple as digging a small hole. You should only have one plant per pot or place them in your garden bed 18 to 24 inches apart, as they need space to spread out and grow. Place each peat pot directly into the soil and immediately water each seedling.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a large enough pot for a broccoli plant, use a five gallon bucket. Drill a few holes in the bottom to assist with drainage and paint the bucket to match your decor.
4. Help Your Broccoli Flourish
So how long does broccoli take to grow? Usually between 70 and 100 days to be ready for a harvest. Until that time is up, you should make sure your plants are well cared for. They need some sun during the day, but too much will cause them to flower too quickly. This is an issue because you need to harvest the broccoli before it flowers because the vegetable itself comes from the flower buds.
As your broccoli grows, look out for pests and disease. If you notice any infected plants, cut off the afflicted areas. You can control pests by picking them off as you see them.
5. Harvest Your Broccoli
Once your broccoli is ready, you can cut it from the stalk. Take at least six inches of the stem with it. If done correctly, the plant will continue to grow.
You can also save some of your broccoli heads for seeds. Instead of harvesting the buds, allow them to flower. Once they do, you can let them mature and turn into pods. Pick the pods and let them dry out for one or two weeks. Then, you’ll have broccoli seeds.
Getting Your Broccoli On
Because broccoli is a hardy plant, it’s easy to grow. As long as you water it and give it enough sunlight, your plant has a good chance at survival. Whether you’re a pro gardener or a novice, you should have a successful harvest.
Having broccoli on hand comes with many perks. Most importantly, it’s healthy and can be cooked in a variety of recipes. Whether you add it to your stir-fry, eat it raw, or grill it up in aluminum foil, broccoli improves your culinary arsenal.
At this point I’ve typed “broccoli” so many times, it’s starting to look wrong. There’s a word for that, but I forget it.
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