Broccoli Harvest

Broccoli preparation1
Broccoli florets just harvested
Harvest main broccoli florets first; small florets can be harvested in about 10 more days.

Broccoli—planted last spring– will continue to grow until severe freezing temperatures arrive. Harvest broccoli when flower heads have formed, but while the florets are still in tight bud.

Harvest the large main or top floret first. Once the main floret is cut, smaller florets develop in leaf axils or side shoots down the stem; in a few weeks these become your second and third harvest.

Cut broccoli when flower heads are close and green. Remove all but the small leaves about head before cutting the flower head with a sharp knife or pruner. Make your cut a few inches below each head leaving some stem. Be sure to cut broccoli heads regularly to keep new heads coming.

Once flower heads appear on the plant, check florets every day as they develop. Always harvest heads when they are full but before they become heavy and floppy. It’s better to cut broccoli florets a day or two or three early and keep them in the refrigerator than to be surprised by an unusually warm winter day which will open the flowers and spoil your efforts. The yellow florets are bitter tasting; the closed buds are sweet.

Wash flower heads and attached stems and place them upright in a deep kettle; keep the heads just above water. Leave the kettle uncovered and let the water boil until the stems are almost tender. Then immerse the heads and cook on until they are just tender. The entire cooking time is 15 to 30 minutes. Serve broccoli flower heads with browned butter, cream, cheese, or Hollandaise sauce.

Set new broccoli plants in the garden early next spring as soon as the ground can be prepared.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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Broccoli steamed1

Quick Serve Broccoli Raw or Cooked