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How to Grow: Organic Broccoli

Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener 

Spring is just around the corner! This is the perfect time of year to brush up on your knowledge of growing techniques. Here at MIgardener, we want to share all of our favorite growing secrets; from our garden to yours. As you read through todays post, you’ll find there is nothing simpler than growing organic!

Today we’ll be covering all things broccoli. In colder climates, and especially in Michigan; broccoli grows to be some of the sweetest in the country! Once a broccoli plant is fully matured, it’s possible to harvest it all the way to December.

Let’s get started.

Soil Prep:

It’s important to prep your soil properly before planting. Soil should be rich with organic material, but loose enough to work with. Add a mixture of one part compost and one part sand to keep soil rich and well drained. Broccoli is prone to a disease called club root. Club root attacks the root structure and causes it to deform into gnarly knots and nodules, which has a negative effect on the roots ability to uptake water and nutrients.

Grow Broccoli

In order to prevent club root you must compress the soil where you want to plant, this removes air gaps that lead to the disease. Dig a trench approximately 2 inches deep and then lightly compress soil down with your foot or by pressing firmly with your hand. Soil should still be crumbly when moved, but have a noticeable density from the reduced air pockets.

Fertilize:

You might not think of it at first, but leaves are the most important part of growth for any broccoli variety. If you can encourage healthy leaf growth, the florets will follow. Nitrogen rich fertilizer is needed to encourage leaf growth, and broccoli is a heavy feeder. Add generous amounts of nitrogen rich fertilizer to your broccoli bed before planting begins. Although broccoli is  a heavy feeder, over fertilizing can lead to hollow stems. There’s no need to re-apply fertilizer again during the growing season.  We use Trifecta+ because it is high in nitrogen but also gives a boost of potassium and phosphorus that will release slowly throughout the season.

Ph Levels:

Do a soil test to make sure the soil has a ph of 7. If soil is too acidic or alkaline, add more compost to balance out the ph.

Sunlight:

Broccoli requires 5-7 hours of sun each day. Full sun allows them to send energy to the production of heads and florets.

Water:

The water need of broccoli are high. Water generously for fast growth, especially because your broccoli will be getting full sunlight. Apply 1 inch of water per week, or approximately two and a half gallons. If broccoli becomes dehydrated, the plant will flower early. In northern climates, even out water application to a little bit every day so that the soil isn’t overwhelmed by moisture. In dry/hotter climates, give your broccoli larger servings of water two or three times a week.

Spacing/Pest Control:

10 to 12 inches apart for each plant. The more space you give broccoli, the better your chances are of avoiding club root.

On the point of pest control, it turns out that broccoli is the favorite snack of the cabbage moth. Cabbage moths seem to favor broccoli over their namesake! The only way to prevent them from getting into your broccoli is to protect it with netting.

Grow Broccoli

Temperature:

Broccoli will only bolt when the temperature reaches the 60°f mark, but can tolerate temperatures from 45-85°f. In northern climates, we recommend planting in late summer (July-Early August) because the broccoli will bolt quickly without being shocked by the sudden transition from spring to summer. Summer planted broccoli will then be able to produce florets as the temperatures cool in the autumn. In the fall, mature plants will be able to withstand temperatures as cold as 25°f. In climates without a cold winter, we recommend planning for an early spring harvest.

Harvesting:

Harvest before flowers open while florets are still in a tight head. If flowers are open it’s too late to harvest, but you can enjoy the look of the flowers. Don’t remove broccoli plants after removing the large broccoli head because the small ones will continue to develop for harvest later. Because broccoli is sensitive to heat, it’s best to harvest it in the morning and then refrigerate as soon as possible.

Grow Broccoli

 

This grow guide is based on videos from our youtube! Which variety of broccoli are you looking forward to planting this year?