Broccoli is an excellent veggie to grow for gardeners of all skill-level, from novice to expert. It is also one of the most nutritious vegetables around, rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While broccoli is fairly easy to grow, but it does need rich, well-drained soil as well as a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight every day. For an organic garden especially, it is important to utilize plenty of compost to keep your broccoli healthy.
The First Steps to Growing Broccoli
Organic broccoli can either be started from seeds or grown from transplants purchased at your favorite nursery. If you opt for seedlings, start the seeds indoors, about 2 months before the final frost of spring. About 3-4 weeks prior to the last frost (utilize a farmer’s almanac if needed), transplant the seedlings to your garden area, keeping at least 24 inches between each plant. If you live in cold climate and want to start your broccoli harvest in the fall, be sure to plant your seeds 3 months before the first estimated frost date. One perk to growing in the fall is that the cabbage worm tends to be less of a problem during this time.
You will also want to decide which variety of broccoli you want to grow. Some of the varieties include:
- Calabrese green sprouting
- Romanesco italia
- De cicco broccoli
Calabrese green sprouting broccoli has a large head and plenty of side shoots; romanesco italia is very flavorful with bright green heads; waltham is dependable with medium-sized heads; and de cicco is small with lots of side shoots (which can extend the harvest period).
Making Your Organic Broccoli Grow
If your planting soil has thoroughly been saturated with manure and/or compost, you won’t need any additional fertilizing. The crucial aspect is to keep the plants thoroughly watered throughout the season. Keep an active eye out for weeds that may threaten your broccoli; remove them as they appear, but once the heads are large enough, this will become less of a threat. Some good companion plants to ensure the health of your broccoli plants are onions, potatoes, and some herbs like dill and rosemary.
Protecting Against Pests and Diseases
The most common predators of broccoli plants are cabbage worms, flea beetles, and cutworms. Many of these can easily be removed by hand from the garden. You can protect from cabbage worms and flea beetles by growing the broccoli under floating row covers. For the cutworms, a toilet-paper roll tube should provide enough protection to the stems. Read more on organic pest control.
Once the heads reach the maximum size (as specified on the seed packet, as according to the variety you plant), you can harvest your plants. Cut the head off of the plant; any small florets or side shoots can be left to continue growing throughout harvest time.
Where to Buy Organic Broccoli Seeds
Depending on where you live, you might be able to find organic broccoli seeds at your local farm store; however, be sure to read the label and check if the package is sealed. Organic broccoli seeds can also be bought online.
Broccoli is a delicious vegetable that offers a variety of health benefits. It can be utilized in a wide variety of dishes, from salads to green smoothies to omelets. It is also a very easy vegetable to grow organically and should be included in nearly every garden.