How to Grow Broccoli – a reliable South African guide
To get those fully-grown lushes heads of broccoli you see in the store right from your back yard, follow these expert tips to find out when and how to grow Broccoli.
Tips when growing Broccoli
Always plant Broccoli after the worst heat and before severe cold.
Broccoli is known as a long crop and needs the cold to develop good firm heads.
A sunny spot and fertile well drained soil are a must for healthy Broccoli.
Enough water is vital foe strong firm Broccoli heads.
Feed regularly throughout the growing season.
Harvest at the right time for flavorful pickings.
When to plant and grow Broccoli?
Planting broccoli at the right time is critically important if you want healthy strong productive plants.
Broccoli hates the heat and like most of the brassicas like Brussel sprouts and cabbage, Broccoli loves to grow in cooler temperatures and thus must be planted at cooler times of the year.
Plant broccoli too soon and your seedlings suffer from the heat, Plant too late and the frost kills off your babies before they are strong enough to face the cold.
As with most vegetable gardening knowing your climate and environment well will always get you leaps ahead.
In South Africa the best time to sow and plant broccoli is in late February and early March, depending on your micro environment this should allow your plants enough time to harden off before winter and avoid the worst of the February heat.
Broccoli seedlings or already grown plantlets can be planted out up to mid-April in South Africa.
How to grow Broccoli in pots or containers
Broccoli does perform in containers, but this tends to take up allot of space for a small harvest. To Grow Broccoli n containers, you need large deep containers with ample space for root development and moisture retention. A 30 -40 cm pot in diameter is suitable for a single Broccoli plant.
Never let your container dry out and make sure to feed the plant regularly, in containers nutrients leach quicker and water evaporates faster. Feed your containerised Broccoli as indicated above and make sure there is ample air movement around the plant to avoid diseases.
How to grow Broccoli
Soil is key when growing Broccoli
Broccoli is known to suffer from various nutrient and other deficiencies which could distort the leaves and encourage pest infestations. To grow healthy broccoli, it is vital that your soil is tremendously fertile. Add well-rotted manure or compost to your soil mixture before planting a good organic vegetable fertiliser like Vita-Veg (6:3:4) from Talborne organics is always a good idea.
Remember that broccoli doesn’t like Acidic soil so keep your soil pH between 5 and 7 for the best results.
Broccoli really needs good drainage so make you make space for this.
Sowing and planting Broccoli
How to Grow Broccoli from Seeds
Embarking on the journey of how to grow broccoli starts with understanding its seed sowing process. This nutritious and versatile vegetable adapts well to South Africa’s varied climates. For a beginners guide in how to grow broccoli, check PlantInfo.co.za’s Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) page
Choosing the Best Seeds for How to Grow Broccoli
In learning how to grow broccoli, selecting the right seeds is a crucial step. Look for varieties that suit the South African climate and resist local pests.
Preparing to Sow Your Broccoli Seeds
The first step in how to grow broccoli from seeds involves preparing the soil. Ensure a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil mix with a pH of 6.0-7.0.
Mastering How to Sow Broccoli Seeds
Sow Broccoli seeds in trays and keep them well watered after sowing. Plant plantlets out as soon as they are large enough to comfortably handle. Typically, after 6 weeks. Space plants an average of 50 cm apart. Always water plants well after planting. Always plant Broccoli in a sunny spot where they get at least 6 hours of sun a day.
Cultivating Broccoli Seedlings
Once you understand how to grow broccoli seedlings, ensure they receive enough sunlight, water and plenty of air movement to avoid pests.
Transplanting Broccoli Seedlings in Your Garden
Once Broccoli seedlings are 10-15cm tall, they are ready for the garden. Remember to harden off seedlings before transplanting into open soil.
Mulch around your Broccoli plants will ensure favorable soil temperatures and keep them nice and moist. When water Broccoli make sure to water the plants deeply and around the base of the plant. Avoid getting water on the heads of your plants, this will attract pests. Half way trough their growing season fertilise your Broccoli with a Nitrogen rich fertiliser to encourage healthy growth. A final top dressing with compost when your Broccoli heads are about 3 cm in diameter goes a long way in the final development of the heads.
When is broccoli ready to be picked or harvested?
Broccoli produces one large head for every plant. This will typically be ready around 75 days after sowing. Remove the head before the plant goes into flowering, the head will be nice and firm and should form tight clusters. Cut the head of at a 45 degree angle with 15 cm of the main stem attached. Smaller heads will form beneath the cut, remove these weekly to encourage more of them.
These tried and tested tips are bound to set you in the right direction for growing some lush healthy heads of Broccoli right in your back yard.
How to Grow Broccoli Q& A
Frequintly asked questions about how to grow Broccoli
How do you grow broccoli for beginners?
Growing broccoli is manageable for beginners. Select a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Enrich the soil with compost. Plant seeds or transplants in early spring or late summer, spacing them about 45 cm apart. Water regularly, maintaining consistently moist soil. Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Monitor for pests and diseases, and provide support for tall, heavy plants.
How long does broccoli take to grow?
Broccoli typically matures in 100 to 150 days from seed. Starting with transplants can reduce this to about 55 to 80 days, depending on the variety.
How do you grow broccoli in South Africa?
In South Africa, plant broccoli during cooler months in a location receiving full sunlight. The soil should be fertile and well-draining. Regular watering, proper spacing, and pest control are key for healthy growth.
Is there a trick to growing broccoli?
The key is ensuring cool weather during growth. Plant in early spring or late summer, depending on your climate. Consistent watering, fertile soil, and proper spacing are essential.
What makes broccoli grow faster?
Full sun exposure, rich and well-drained soil, and consistent moisture help broccoli grow faster. Balanced fertilisation can also promote growth. Avoid heat and drought stress.
How many broccoli do you get from each plant?
Each broccoli plant produces one large central head, followed by several smaller side shoots after harvesting the main head. The number of side shoots varies.
Will broccoli grow back after cutting?
Yes, after cutting the main head, broccoli often produces smaller side shoots that can be harvested. Continue to water and nourish the plant for regrowth.
How do I know when broccoli is ready to harvest?
Harvest broccoli when the head is fully formed but before the yellow flowers open. The head should be firm and tight, with large and compact florets.
Why isn’t my broccoli forming heads?
Factors like excessive heat, insufficient nutrients, lack of water, or improper planting time can prevent head formation. Broccoli prefers cooler temperatures.
What triggers broccoli to flower?
Broccoli flowers, or bolts, usually due to stress like temperature changes. Warm temperatures after cooler weather can cause bolting.
Can I eat broccoli leaves?
Broccoli leaves are edible and nutritious, suitable for raw salads, steaming, or sautéing. They have a milder flavour compared to the heads.
What fertilizer is best for broccoli?
A balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is ideal. Organic options like fish emulsion work well. Apply according to instructions, especially when transplanting and as heads form.
Does broccoli like manure?
Broccoli benefits from well-composted manure, which adds nutrients and improves soil structure. Apply before planting.
Do broccoli need manure?
Manure is beneficial but not essential. If used, ensure it is well-composted.
Does broccoli need full or part sun?
Broccoli thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Partial shade is tolerable but may result in weaker growth and smaller heads.
Can broccoli grow in the shade?
Broccoli prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade, though excessive shade can lead to less vigorous growth and smaller heads. Aim for at least 4 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Does broccoli need a trellis to grow?
Broccoli generally does not need a trellis, but staking may be helpful in windy areas or for tall varieties to prevent falling over.
What does it mean when broccoli bolts?
Bolting in broccoli signifies a shift from vegetative growth to flowering, usually due to stress from hot weather. Bolting causes the heads to open and become yellow, reducing their quality for consumption.