There are two main types of broccoli:
- Sprouting Broccoli - produces lots of side shoots.
- Heading Broccoli - produces one large head.
When it comes to growing broccoli in Australia there’s no real right or wrong location. Traditionally cooler climates from Melbourne and below were favourable but these days it can be grown anywhere year-round. Keep broccoli plants hydrated by watering them at the base a couple of times a week.
To help your broccoli thrive plant it in a sunny position with well-drained soil. In spring you can grow them in partial shade to prevent them from going to seed.
How to grow
The most fool-proof method to growing broccoli is to grow them from seedlings. You can grow them from seeds but this will require time, patience and germination. To grow from seeds it is easiest to sow the seeds 1cm deep into the ground around 30cm apart. It’s a good idea to plant your broccoli seeds progressively so that you have a never-ending supply.
Once your broccoli is established remember to keep watering it from the roots, leaving the water to sit on the leaves and head may cause it to rot.
Broccoli can also be grown in pots, as broccoli shrubs can grow to be quite a large plant one or two seedlings in a 50cm pot with well-drained soil.
How to harvest
Your broccoli will be ready to harvest in between 50-80 days depending on the variety. It is important to harvest broccoli early in the morning before it heats up. Use a sharp knife or secateurs to cut off the head of the plant taking around 10cm of the stem. It is important that you slice the stalk on an angle to prevent water pooling and rotting.
Most plants will have sub-shoots that will also produce broccoli in a couple of weeks time so be patient and keep watering.
Plant Care & Troubleshooting
Caterpillars, worms and other pests love the leaves on broccoli plants. Spray the plant with a natural bug spray.
Broccoli is prone to a soil issue called clubroot which causes the plant to wilt on warm days. To avoid this from happening plant broccoli in different garden beds each year.
If left too long or not given enough water broccoli will start to flower, yes you can eat the flowers but they’ll taste bitter and don’t have much nutritional value.
Why are my broccoli leaves turning yellow?
If you notice that the bottom leaves are turning yellow this is a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough nitrogen. Don’t stress, simply give your plant a dose of nitrogen fertiliser like Blood and Bone.
Can you eat broccoli leaves?
Yes you can! Simply cut off the dark green leaves and lightly saute them. You can also bake them into crunchy chips.
The best companion plants for broccoli are beans, Marigolds, strawberries and coriander.
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