Broccoli is an annual cool-season crop that can handle frost and freezing temperatures. It tends to do a lot better in cooler weather. If the temperature rises too soon, your broccoli head will flower too early and produce inedible fruit. It’s best not to try and compost brassica root to prevent the spread of clubroot and other soil-borne diseases. Be sure to rotate your broccoli location within your garden. Never plant within 10′ for three years in a row.
When to Plant
Broccoli seeds do best when started indoors six weeks before the last killing frost for the late spring/early summer crop. It’s best to plant another round of broccoli in the middle of August for a late fall harvest. Broccoli is much heartier than cauliflower and can withstand several touches of frost before it stops producing. You will also find that broccoli that matures in cooler weather will grow healthier heads and sweeter than those harvested during warmer times.
How to Plant
Plant rows 18-24″ by 18-24″ apart. The larger the spacing between plants tends to lead to larger heads and smaller side shoots, while less space does the opposite.
How to Harvest
In your first harvest, you will take the central head by cutting it at an angle to the stem at 4-6″. Be sure you leave some leaves on the stalk so that new shoots can produce from the leaves. Be sure to cut the stem at an angle so that water cannot stand on the open cut on the stem and cause rot and other diseases. You must be sure to harvest every head before it starts to split, or else it will flower and go to seed. Adding fish meal to the plant after the first cutting will encourage the production of extra side shoots.
It’s important to remember that homegrown broccoli WILL NOT get as large as store-bought broccoli but tends to be much sweeter.
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