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Broccoli Growing Quick Tips

Broccoli in raised bed

Follow these broccoli growing quick tips for harvest success.

Sowing: Sow broccoli seeds in early spring for an early summer crop or in midsummer for a fall crop. In mild-winter regions, sow broccoli from fall to late winter. Time your planting so that harvest comes before the weather warms into the 70sF (21sC) ; the florets will open in warm weather and become inedible. Start seed indoors 8 weeks before transplanting seedlings to the garden. Sow seeds in a warm, well-lighted location—in a bright window or under grow lights. Sow seeds 1/4″ (6 mm) deep in seed starting mix. Firm lightly and keep mix just moist. Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days at 50-85°F (10-29°C). Sow seed outdoors when the soil temperature is at least 65°F (18°C).

Broccoli in raised bed
Broccoli growing in raised bed.

Growing: Seedlings can be transplanted into the garden when they are 4-5” (10-13 cm) tall after the last hard frost in spring. Move seedlings to a sheltered place outdoors to “harden off” 1 week before transplanting. Space plants in garden 16″ (41 cm) apart in rows 24” (61 cm) apart. Grow broccoli in rich, well-drained soil, in full sun. Give sprouts regular water keeping the soil evenly moist.

 Harvesting: Broccoli will be ready for harvest 80-100 days from direct seeding and 60-80 days from transplanting depending upon variety. Cut off the main or central head when it is 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) in diameter and the flower buds are still tight and green. To encourage secondary shoots to form heads cut away 6 inches (15 cm) of stem with the central stem. Harvest secondary side shoots when they are 4 inches (10 cm) long. Broccoli will keep in the refrigerator crisper for 10-14 days. Blanch heads before freezing for up to 3 months.

For more detailed articles on broccoli growing go to Broccoli.

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. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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