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How to Grow Broccoli Plants

A member of the mustard family, Broccoli is a cool weather crop. Tasty and healthy for you, it has gained in popularity in home gardens. Like other members of the mustard family, broccoli has a strong, distinct flavor.

Eating Broccoli plant is good for your health. Studies suggest it helps to guard against cancer, especially colon and rectal cancers.

In addition to all of the other benefits of Broccoli, it is also low in calories.

Days to Maturity:

Broccoli will form a main, center head in as little as 60 - 70 days, depending upon variety. After picking the primary head, don't throw away the plant. Most varieties produce secondary shoots, with much smaller heads. You can harvest these smaller heads all the way up to the first frost and beyond.

How to Grow Broccoli Plants:

Broccoli is a cool weather crop. Broccoli prefers full sun and a rich garden soil. It grows best in the spring and fall. Fall crops will survive long after the first frost, and even after the first snowfall. Flavor is best in cool and cold weather.

Sow Broccoli seeds as early as the ground can be worked. For spring planting, we recommend an early indoor start 3-4 weeks before the last frost. As soon as the garden is ready for planting, transplant seedlings. Spring frosts will not affect them.

Keep soil moist during the growing season. Fertilize with a general purpose fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.  

Harvest compact heads before they begin to flower. As soon as the first floret begins to open, broccoli loses its sweet flavor and becomes bitter. Harvest side shoots in the same manner.

Broccoli grows slowly in hot weather. It forms few heads during this period. Most home gardeners avoid growing broccoli during the hot humid months of summer.

Insects and Pests:

Broccoli is extremely susceptible to insects. The most common  insect problems are are aphids, and cabbage loopers.

Cabbage loopers are the larva stage of a moth. Those white moths that visit your garden and yard are the culprits. Some people call them white butterflies. Try placing a screen or insect netting over the plant, so the moth can not lay her eggs. Commercial growers apply insecticides to control them.

Aphids are controlled by frequent spraying. Organic controls in the form of soap or garlic sprays are also effective.

Woodchucks love broccoli. See Woodchuck/Ground Hog Control.

Disease:

Broccoli plants are fairly resistant to most plant diseases.

Hardiness:

Broccoli thrives in cool and even cold weather. It can be among the first plants in your garden each spring. Start them indoors, and plant them before the last frost, freeze or snow. They will survive below thirty degrees. In the fall, they will be your last crops to survive the increasingly frequent frosts.


More Information:

More on Broccoli

Garden Recipes - Find Cabbage recipes and garden recipes galore!





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