BROCCOLI CULTIVATION GUIDE ( How to grow broccoli at home, how to grow broccoli from seeds)
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables, no wonder it is loved and highly wanted or demanded by many people. Infact many households spend good amount of money every year on this vegetable.
This is why I decided to put out this post to teach how to grow or farm this vegetable from seeds at home or farm, care and get a very great harvest, there by help many households to grow enough broccoli for themselves.
Also read-Tips to grow cabbage at home
Broccoli is a vegetable in the family of cabbage ( Brassicaceae). It is said to be very nutritious, even more nutritious than cabbage and so many Vegetables.
It can be both a biennial and annual crop, depending on how it is treated, the climate condition and the type of variety involved.
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Broccoli is a cool weather plant, but it require good amount of sunlight and despise frost, and too much water.
It could be grown at any season indoors, for the fact that there is a suitable temperature for it and the best season to grow it outside is during the autumn and spring because those seasons are when the temperature and overall weather condition is suitable to it. This plant require a temperature of 60°F to 80°F to thrive or grow to it’s full potential and give the best yields.
Enough of introduction, let’s go into the main topic of this article, which is how to grow or farm broccoli.
Before we go straight into the tutorial or guide to grow broccoli, it is important to know it’s different varieties or cultivars.
This is to help you understand or gain the full knowledge of each of the varieties and also help you to make a choice on the type that’s more suitable to you and your environment.
Some of the varieties are:
Green Duke: Green Duke is another variety that has the ability to withstand heat. it produce good heads also and it’s very suitable for growing in the southern states.
Paragon: Paragon is a variety that is very good for freezing and has long Spears.
Green Goliath: This variety of broccoli do produce large heads and abundance of side shoot or small heads. One of the good things about this variety is, it’s a heat tolerant.
Flash: Flash as the name implies is a fast broccoli variety which is suitable for winter growing too.
It is also very tolerant to warm weather condition. It produce good heads too and small heads.
Calabrese: Calabrese is a type of broccoli that produce a very big head and good number of small heads. This variety is very suitable for winter planting and it’s said to originate from Italy, so it’s known as Italian heirloom.
Before successfully growing broccoli vegetable plant, there are some preparations which must be put in place, such as siting of a good garden or farmland, getting the seeds, growing them indoors ( if you want to transplant) etc.
Siting of land
Getting or locating the land to grow this plant is one of the most important steps to take if you want to successfully grow broccoli.
This is because land is the most important aspect of growing any crop, especially broccoli, due to the fact that this plant has some characteristics that distinguish it from other plants, such as, it require a very rich or heavy fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, this is why it is usually referred to as a hungry plant.
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Apart from soil quality, it need a place where there is a very good amount of sunshine per day, at least 5 to 8 hours of sunshine per day.
Broccoli plant, no matter the variety need a soft soil or at least a soil that is very easy to plow so that enough oxygen could flow in the soil which is great for broccoli plant.
Also when siting a place to grow this vegetable plant, please do avoid growing it in a garden or farm that was previously used to grow it at least about a year ago.
Look for the type of soil that drains quickly, wether sandy loam or clay loam etc.
Broccoli is not very selective when it comes to soil, for the fact that the soil is heavily fertile and can drain fast.
With the above instructions, you can now make a good choice on the type of place and conditions this plant need, so site the broccoli garden or farm accordingly.
Preparation of Land
Let’s assume you have found or sited a suitable place to grow this plant, the next thing to do is to prepare the land.
To get the land ready for broccoli farming, or gardening, manual tools such as shovel or spade, Cutlass, wheelbarrow, rake and even digger is needed.
Use the Cutlass to clear the land off and cut the trees too, if there is any. Use wheelbarrow to pack and dispose the dirt’s, after clearing the land, use the shovel or digger to plow it, depending on how hard the soil is.
After plowing the soil, get some composts or animal manure or non organic Fertilizer and spray it on the empty soil, spray water on the manure and leave it to settle in the soil.
Although some manures could take longer to settle, but on an average, 2 weeks is okay before the plants are sown.
Fungicide, pesticides and even herbicide could be applied on the land before planting the crops, in order to curtail both weed, fungus and pests earlier.
After 2 weeks or immediately, make farm beds on the garden and make some tiny hole of about half an inch where the broccoli seeds are to be sown and give at least 10 inches to 15 inches gap per hole.
When you are through with the land preparation, the next step is to get the broccoli seeds and sow. ( To buy, check my recommended seed store for quality seeds)
There are 2 main methods of planting/Sowing broccoli plants, they are:
Direct sowing of broccoli seeds is the most traditional way to grow this plant, although it is very popular and does do well, but the seeds sometimes don’t survive, depending on the weather condition and the variety involved, So i do prefer the indoor sowing method.
With the direct method of planting broccoli seeds, once the seeds arrive, take them to the garden and sow them immediately on a row of 2 to 4 per hole and cover them with sand.
As I said, depending on the weather condition, this plant can not be grown in frost weather, and too much heat condition, so I do recommend growing broccoli direct on open environment in spring and autumn.
Once the seeds are sown, they need water to help them germinate, and so, apply at least half glass of water per plant on a 2 days intervals.
Indoor or the Transplant method
This method of growing broccoli indoors before transplanting is the most effective way to grow this vegetable plant, because it reduces seeds spoilage and also could be grown even in the cold and hot seasons, and transplant to the garden or farm when the weather is more suitable.
To grow broccoli indoors, tools such as seed tray, pot etc is required. (CLICK HERE TO BUY THEM ON AMAZON)
Get good loamy soil and mix properly with organic Fertilizer, get the soil into the pot or seed tray, make half inch holes on the sand and sow the seeds on a row of 1 or 2 and cover with sand.
Water at least once in a day or 2 days with about 2 cm of water and keep the tray at a place where the sun could reach it.
On an average, it takes about 5 days up to a week before the seeds will germinate and start sprouting out.
Broccoli seeds could germinate with a temperature of 40°F, but is it very advisable to keep them in a temperature higher than this because they tend to do more better with warmer temperatures.
When they germinate, leave them indoors for at least about a few weeks, so that they could be matured enough and also the weather could be favorable to transplant them.
When they grow at least 4 to 5 inches tall and have grown about 3 to 5 leaves, then they should be transplanted to the garden or farm.
To transplant them, after getting the garden ready and making holes of at least 3 to 4 inches deep in the garden soil, take the pot or tray there, uproot them carefully, without hurting the roots, then transplant then into the holes and cover with sand, then apply water.
The transplanting time should be very early in the morning or very late in the evening when the sun is very dim/weak.
Also try as much as possible to apply some Fertilizer in the hole before covering with sand, as this will help the plants to grow faster and healthy.
CARE OF BROCCOLI PLANTS
Like many people will say, ” planting broccoli is never the problem, but taking good care of it”.
This is very true to some extent. Broccoli plant requires much care and when some things are neglected could lead to poor quality yields and also unhealthy plants, even to the extent of loosing many plants.
The most important care required by this plant are:
Siting: As I have explained above, siting is one of the most important thing to take care of in broccoli cultivation. This is due to the undeniable fact that the overall success and failure of growing broccoli plants is determined by the place they are grown.
Good exposure to sunlight is by far the main reason why siting or location is the most important care to give to this vegetable plant because it requires enough sunlight or it won’t do very well or may even die.
Therefore, the garden should be well exposed to sun and located in a place where the sun is always shining, That’s why I recommend cutting any tree or big plants in the garden or farm that could prevent or block the sun from getting to the broccoli plants. ( This is why broccoli is often grown in southern states of U.S.A
than in the north because there is more of warm weather and good sunshine).
Also when growing broccoli indoors, the seed tray or pot should be kept in a place where the sun could get to them, be it when they have not germinated or have germinated, they still need sun.
Watering/Irrigation: Water is needed by broccoli plants, but at the same time could still kill them!.
What I meant here is, in as much as they need water to survive, they detest too much of it and when applied could harm them in many ways, either by reducing their growth and yields or even killing them, so the application of water here needs to be thoroughly controlled!.
Immediatly the seeds are sown, they should be given water on a daily basis with about a less than cooking spoonful of water per seed or on a 2 days basis with at least about quarter a glass of water per seed.
The water goes a long way to help the overall germination of the seeds.
When they germinate and still at their infant stage, quarter a glass of water should be given to them per plant.
Also water is needed when transplanting, and when they start growing heads.
More water should be given when the heads start coming out. Water sprinkler should be used to water them or water dripping system.
Note – Please avoid spraying water on the heads ( broccolis) as it could get them damaged. Also apply water early in the morning or late evening, avoid doing so in the afternoon when the sun is still active.
Weeding: Let’s be very serious here, before broccoli plants could be successfully grown and harvested, the activities of weeds should be totally curtailed!.
Weed is very harmful to this plant than it is to many vegetable crops because of the nature of this plant.
Broccoli is a hungry plant and do require heaving feeding from the soil and so does not need any competitor or competitors that will be absorbing the soil nutrients too.
Weed do absorb the soil water also which the plants need so much.
It does grow up to overshadow the plants if left unchecked, thereby blocking them from the sun which is very harmful to the plants and also could harbor pests and breed diseases.
These are the reasons why weed should be curtailed very quickly.
To curtail the activities of weed, there are 2 methods of doing it, they are the use of chemicals ( herbicide) and the use of tools.
As I stated earlier in the article, to curtail the activities of weed earlier, apply herbicides on the soil before planting the crops. This is the best way to stop weeds from every growing, or delaying them, thereby giving the plants enough time to grow and thrive.
Or when the weeds start sprouting out, spray herbicides on them and they will die.
The use of chemicals to control weeds is the most task free and the most effective way than the manual method which involves the use of tools.
Tools such as Hoe and shovel are needed to manually uproot the weeds one after the other and dispose off.
This manual method is very taskful and takes alot of time, but still very effective.
Fertilizer: The application of Fertilizer is another great way to care for this plant.
As I stated earlier, after preparing the garden, pour good amount of Fertilizer there and leave them.
This is because broccoli is a heavy eater of manure.
Even when growing indoors, Fertilizer has to be mixed with the soil so that they will grow healthy and faster.
Also when transplanting, apply manure and any other type of Fertilizer 3 weeks after transplanting.
Apart from organic manure, a good Fertilizer for this plant is N.P.K 20.20.20.
Crop Rotation: Crop rotation is one of the reasons many gardeners and farmers fail in broccoli cultivation.
The power of crop rotation should not be in anyway overlooked when it comes to growing broccoli, due to it’s nature.
Broccoli is a heavy feeders as I said before and therefore does not need to be grown on the same location twice in a year or maybe 2, depending on the type of soil.
Growing this plant once in a garden or farm is enough to suck almost all the soil nutrients in that place and so a very long gap should be given before growing then in that place again.
At least an interval of 2 years or more should be given before trying to grow this plant in the same place.
Apart from the soil nutrient depreciation caused by this plant, also crop rotation does help to curtail diseases and pests which might have been bred by the previous broccoli plants. So leaving the land vacant for a few years or growing other crops there is very effective in controlling them.
Mulch: Mulch is also important in growing broccoli, more especially in a very hot weather condition.
Then mulch is applied, it helps to cool the soil, thereby keeping the plants cool, as broccoli does like a cool environment.
To apply mulch, I suggest you get good amount of green leaves, then apply them around the bottom of the plants.
Also they need to be pruned when necessary, in order to give more chance for effective growth.
Water Drainage: Broccoli plant although love cool environment, but it does not tolerate waterlogged environment.
Adequate care should be given to maintain a high drained soil always.
First, chose to grow them in a type of soil that is self draining and very quick. This will go a long way to reduce the amount of water in the soil.
Also a drainage system should be constructed in the garden, in case of rain ( although I don’t recommend growing. this plant in the rainy season).
PESTS AND DISEASE CONTROL
Broccoli plant is very prone to good number of pests and diseases, therefore when growing broccoli, you should look out for any of these pests and make sure to prevent and control them, some of they are:
Cabbage Root Fly: This past do cause leaf wilt by creating holes in the leaves. It is a seasonal pest and very commom in spring and summer.
To control this pest, use insecticide.
Downy Mildew: This disease loves warm weather condition and it brings about spots on the upper foliage surface of the plants, with downy mold on the underside.
This is a fungal disease and one of the reasons for yields loses.
To control this disease, the plants should be properly separated from one another and the weeds should be prevented from growing or controlled adequately and quickly and also avoid waterlogging the soil.
Pieris Brassicae: This pest is a white caterpillar which attack broccoli plants.
The larva of this pest do eat the foliage, thereby resulting in very huge damages to the plant such as yield damages and reduction in it’s quality too.
One bad thing about this pest is, once it infest broccoli plants, the control is not very easy.
One of the effective ways to control this pest is through biological means, by attacking the make ones and thereby stopping more of their production.
Broccoli is very quick to mature and grow head, in fact, it is one of the fastest vegetables. In about 60 to 80 days, depending on the variety, they will mature and their heads will be ready to be harvested.
To harvest them, get a farm scissors or a knife, use them to cut out the heads.
Broccoli plants are known to have more than one heads, there are other heads which will mature later and will also be harvested, but they are always smaller than the main head.
After harvesting the main heads, you need to give the plants more Fertilizers and water, to enable the smaller heads to grow as big as they could and mature quickly also.
Note – The best time to harvest broccoli is early in the morning or late evening, when the weather is cooler, to avoid the quality of the yields being reduced.
After harvesting, you might want to store your broccoli. To store broccoli is very simple, store them in the refrigerator.
Make sure they are dry before placing in the refrigerator and avoid storing when they are wet.
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