Backyard gardeners are growing broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) like never before. Belonging to the cabbage or cole family, this popular dinner side dish tastes best fresh and is prized for its cool weather hardiness and ample production. It’s a high-production vegetable that’s perfect for fresh eating, cooking and freezing.
One of our favorite superfoods, broccoli is low in calories and chock-full of vitamins A, B, and C, as well as calcium, phosphorus and iron. It has a high fiber content, anti-inflammatory benefits and has been associated with a lower risk of cancer.
Fun Fact: This nutrient powerhouse is native to the Mediterranean where it is believed to have evolved from a wild cabbage plant.
A nutritious powerhouse, home-grown broccoli beats anything from the market.View all
One of the garden’s nutritious powerhouses, heirloom broccoli beats anything you get at the market, especially when harvested in cool weather. Planting instructions are included with each seed packet and shipping is FREE!
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Broccoli
- Plant in cooler weather, spring or fall
- Can tolerate frost
- Needs full sun and loose, nutrient-rich soil
- Can plant outside 2 weeks before last frost
- Short-season veggie that matures in 55-75 days
- Freeze for meals year-round or eat fresh
- Pests and diseases include cabbage worms, flea beetles, root maggots, and cutworms
Broccoli is a cool season annual plant that requires full sun and regular water. It grows best in loose, fast-draining and fertile soils. Dig in a legume cover crop or 30 lbs of organic compost per 100 square feet during the season prior to planting. Since broccoli is a heavy feeder, it thrives after a legume crop, such as peas. Well balanced soil that is rich in nutrients will prevent many broccoli pests and diseases.
Humus is the key to a great broccoli harvest. Add ample amounts of organic matter to the soil prior to planting (Learn How to Prepare Garden Soil here).
How to Plant
All cole crops can tolerate frost, so don’t be afraid to set broccoli transplants into the garden two weeks before the last frost. Space transplants 15-18 inches apart, allowing at least 2 feet between rows. If planting from seed, sow directly in fall for winter harvest, or early spring for a late spring harvest. If you’re starting transplants indoors, get them going early — about 8-10 weeks before the last frost.
As temperatures warm, mulch the planting area with compost, leaves or straw to cool the soil, prevent weeds and conserve moisture. Promote healthy growth by feeding every 2-3 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Broccoli will mature 55-75 days from transplanting.
Harvesting and Storage
The edible portion of the plant is the flower which is harvested before it actually blooms. Cut just below the point where the stems begin to separate. After harvesting the main flower head, side shoots will develop with smaller heads so the plants will continue to produce over a long period of time. Cool season annuals will bolt (go to seed) quickly in warm weather.
Wash and store broccoli in the refrigerator — no longer than 10 days — for fresh use. It also freezes well right after harvest and will retain much of its nutritional value.
Insect & Disease Problems
Covering young plants with a floating row cover will protect them from cabbage worms, flea beetles and root maggots. Paper collars and barriers placed around the stem of each plant, on the soil surface, will deter cutworms. Damping-off disease is a common problem with seedlings. Remove and destroy all infected plants.
Seed Saving Instructions
This biennial plant will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate varieties by one mile the second year when going to seed. Do not harvest heads on plants you intend to save for seed. Carefully dig the plants and pot them in sand. Store plants between 32-40˚F. Plant back out in early spring and allow to bolt. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
100% Alaskan Humus
Contains pure, naturally decomposed forest humus -- NO fillers or additives.$16.95Read more
No fishy odor! Slow-release nutrients grow stronger, more nutritious vegetables.$19.95Read more
A special mix to make sure your plants are covered from leaf tip to root hair.$14.95Read more
Alaska Fish (5-1-1)
An all-purpose, deodorized fish emulsion for use on all indoor and outdoor plants.$9.95Read more