When and How To Harvest Broccoli - Backyard Boss
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When and How To Harvest Broccoli

Whether you’re reading up on the easiest veggies to grow in your garden or already have a patch dedicated to broccoli, you may be curious about harvesting broccoli. The best part is that broccoli is just as easy to harvest as it is to grow, making it a great addition to any backyard garden or greenhouse.

That being said, like all vegetables, it can be difficult to determine when the broccoli is ready to harvest. Plus, you may not be sure exactly where to start when it comes to properly removing and storing the florets. Fortunately, this guide is here to help, filling in all the details and connecting the dots so you can start enjoying the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

Tools You Will Need for Harvesting Broccoli

One of the great things about harvesting broccoli is that the task requires very few tools. Below, we’ll list all 3 of the tools you’ll need to gather your veggies seamlessly.

  • Gardening gloves
  • Container or basket
  • Gardening sheers or harvesting knives

When to Harvest Broccoli

Baby broccoli florets
Image credits: Becky Striepe via openverse

While harvesting broccoli is a rather simple task, knowing when it’s actually time to do the picking is incredibly important. While veggies usually take about 100 days to grow, it’s important to start paying attention to your broccoli once the heads appear. You can also cut off, cook, and eat the small, fresh leaves while you wait.

The first thing to do is consider the size and shape of the floret: the head should be dome-shaped with an even texture and appearance. You can also use your hands to feel the buds: they should be firm and tight. If there are spaces between the buds or flowers forming, the broccoli may be overripe and should be harvested immediately.

It’s also important to consider the size: there are different varieties of broccoli and thus they will all be ripe at different sizes. So, check out the seed packet you planted with and the labeled maturity size and expected time frame.

How to Harvest Broccoli

Step 1: Harvest the Main Head

Main broccoli head ready for harvesting
Image credits: artverau via Pixabay

Once you’ve determined that it’s time to remove the broccoli from the plant, it’s time to harvest. But before you begin, ensure your tools are clean and sharp as this will keep your broccoli florets healthy after they have been cut.

With that out of the way, it’s time to get chopping! Broccoli should always be harvested early in the morning when the buds are still firm and tight. Wearing your gloves, cut beneath the center head using your sharp knife or shears. Cut at least six inches of stalk with the head right above a new set of leaves to inspire more growth.

Put your broccoli heads in a basket and bring indoors for storage (more on that later).

Step 2: Harvest the Side Shoots

Harvesting broccoli
Image credits: Hans Ripa via Unsplash

Broccoli continues producing all season long so once you’ve cut off the center head, side shoots will begin to appear. The side shoots will be smaller in size, so don’t wait as long to collect those. That being said, they’ll have the same great crisp and taste and you’ll be able to harvest them more regularly.

You should harvest the side shoots the same way you harvested the head, waiting for the buds to be firm and tight in the morning, as well as removing a larger section of the stalk.

Step 3: Post-Harvesting Broccoli

Broccoli florets
Image credits: kgjerseth via Pixabay

Once you’ve harvested the broccoli, it’s time to store it. As you likely already know, fresh broccoli has a shorter shelf life and can last about a week in the crisper. Also, keep it away from other fruits and veggies to avoid premature rotting, and keep a paper towel at the bottom of the drawer to soak up moisture.

Avoid washing the broccoli until you’re ready to use it to ensure it lasts as long as possible. And if you’ve collected more broccoli than you can eat, you can always chop it up and freeze it where it will last for up to one year.

Harvesting Broccoli

While you may not have had a love for broccoli in your younger years, it’s no secret that a fresh floret is a crowd favorite, especially served with fresh garlic and other home-grown veggies. Broccoli is an excellent addition to any gardener’s crops because of how easy it is to grow, but harvesting and storing it is just as simple.

Will you be using these tips and tricks to harvest your broccoli this season? Let us know below!