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Growing Broccoli With
Sweet,Tender Heads

growing-broccoli head that taste amazingGrowing Broccoli Mature Heading Broccoli

Growing Broccoli


Broccoli is a member of the very large Brassica family with four different types that can be grown in the home vegetable garden.

Heading Broccoli

This is the type most frequently available in supermarkets and when growing broccoli in the home garden. It has a single large domed head that is composed of numerous clustered florets, 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) diameter.

heading broccoli

This type is usually green in color and arranged in a tree like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk.

After harvesting the main broccoli head many varieties of heading broccoli develop side shoots that can be later harvested for use

Many varieties of this type will yield over an extended period by developing small side heads, 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) in diameter after the central head has been harvested.

Sprouting Broccoli

This type grows into bushier plants than heading types and often do not produce a main central head that is much to speak of, but rather grow numerous small heads composed of numerous clustered florets on thin stalks similar to heading broccoli.

Sprouting broccoli heads are not as large as the heading type but there are a lots more of them and they usually produce over an extended period.

Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco Broccoli is in the Botrytis (cauliflower) cultivar group but is classified as a broccoli. When growing broccoli of this type you will need plenty of space. The mature romanesco Broccoli plant can grow to about 3 feet (1 M) tall and the same in width with thin spear shaped leaves.

The head has a very distinctive appearance. It is shaped similar to cauliflower but composed of numerous elegant, symmetrically pointed swirling peaks in shades of yellow and apple green. This broccoli type seldom produces side shoots.

Broccoli Rabe, Raap, Raab or Rapini

like sprouting broccoli it doesn’t have a central head. It is grown for both its small immature flower buds, which are similar in appearance to those of regular broccoli, and its leaves. This type of broccoli has a strong flavor and is closely related to turnips.

Climate and soil


Climate, Broccoli is a cool season crop that can withstand light frosts, growing best when daytime air temperatures are between 55-75 F (13-24 C). Will welcomes shade in the hottest part of the season - requiring a minimum of 3-4 hours of direct sunlight daily. Growing Temp 55-75 F (13-24 C)

Soil Conditions

Well drained - High organic matter - Rich fertility Broccoli plants will grow in almost any soil but prefer fertile well-drained, moist soils with plenty of organic matter. Good growth is experienced with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0.


best method

Transplanting mature seedling is the best method for growing broccoli in the home garden.

Transplanting into the garden

Broccoli seedling ready to plant out

It is important to keep broccoli plants moving forward, seedlings that receive any degree of check in their growth during the seedling stage tend to go to seed soon after planting out.

When transplanting seedling into the garden set transplants slightly deeper than they were grown originally.

Transplanting broccoli seedling

Transplant seedlings 18 to 24 inches (45-60 cm) apart in the row and allow 36 inches (90 cm) between rows. Depending on variety broccoli plants can grow to a height of 2 1/2 feet (75 cm).

Soil temperatures and air temperatures differ greatest in the early spring. While air temperature might be in the range for planting or sowing seed it will take consistently warm temperature during the day and night for the soil temperature to follow suit.

Plant Care

Mulching broccoli seedlings

Enough water, good weed control and the right fertilizer is all broccoli needs to grow fast and produce well.

  1. Weed control
  2. Moisture
  3. Fertilizer

Weed and moisture Control

Weed control with any plant that is transplanted really is a breeze by mulching around the plant as soon as it is transplanted . It is not hard to maintain the mulch during the growing cycle

Watering broccoli seedlings

As with most vegetables, a consistent moisture supply is essential from seed planting to maturity.

The best way to achieve this is with a good mulching program throughout the growth cycle.

 You will produce sweet and tender broccoli heads by ensuring consistent moisture, especially as the heads develop.


Producing good broccoli heads is easily achieved by keeping your broccoli plants growing at a steady rate rather than trying to address any fertility deficiencies during the growth cycle.  Good row or bed preparation in the form of compost, mature animal manures or bagged organic fertilizers before planting is more effective.

2 weeks before sowing or transplanting - when transplanting use liquid starter fertilizer - side-dress every 3-4 weeks - last side-dressing as the heads begin to show.

High fertilizer needs, 5-6 quarts per 100 sq feet (5.5-6.6 liters per 9.3 square meters) pre-planting of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer , same rate for each side dressing.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is very important with Broccoli and other members of the Brassicaceae family, these include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, turnips, and of course, all forms of cabbage.

Allow at least 2-4 years between growing any members of this large vegetable group in the same garden bed.

pests and diseases


Aphids, Cabbage Loopers, Cutworms, Diamond Back Moth, Flea Beetles, Harlequin Bug, Imported Cabbageworm, Mites, Root Fly, Slugs, Weevil, Whitefly


Alternaria Leafspot , Black Leg, Black Rot, Club Root, Damping Off, Downy Mildew, Leaf Spot, Rhizoctonia, Yellows.

Harvesting and Storing


60-100 days - depending on conditions and variety.

The main harvesting of heading broccoli which is the most common broccoli grown in the home garden, is the large central head of the plant.

Harvest basket of broccoli head, young turnips  and Radicchio

Removing the central head of the plant usually stimulate the plant to development side shoots that will grow for later harvesting. These are usually smaller, around 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter.

A broccoli plant left too long and going to seed

The heads should be harvested when the buds are still small and tightly closed. Yellow flowers within the head are a sign of over-maturity.


Fresh stored broccoli is very perishable. Under ideal conditions, 32 F (0 C), with a relative humidity of 95-100% and adequate air circulation good quality heads will keep well for between 10 to 14 days max.

Broccoli is best blanched and frozen for longer term storage.

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