Broccoli is a cold-weather plant that does best if planted in early spring for a June crop, or late August/September for a November-December harvest.
Broccoli seeds can germinate in as low as 40-degree soil. Your broccoli plants will do best if planted in rich, composted garden beds. After 3 weeks, fertilize by adding compost to the soil and/or spraying with a fish emulsion solution.
How to plant:
Transplant broccoli plants 1-2 feet apart, pat down soil and water well. You can also direct-sow, but this is better done 85-100 days before the first fall frost. There may not be a point to direct-sowing broccoli in spring. By the time the plants are big enough, it will be too hot and they will bolt.
Spring planting time: April 15-30
Fall planting time: Sept 1
Seed depth: 1/2 inch
Plant spacing: 12-24″ apart
Days to maturity: 52
Best companions: nasturtium, marigolds, rosemary, sage, dill
Pests and disease:
Cabbage worms, aphids, flea beetles, cutworms. Make a “collar” for the broccoli stems by cutting out a square of cardboard. Cut a line to the center, then add a hole. Slide the cardboard square around the base of the plant, so that cutworms won’t be able to climb over the ledge. Knock aphids off leaves with a spray from the garden hose. Hand-pick cabbage worms. Try Neem oil as a general deterrent. Companion plants also help deter pests.
Plants are ready when heads are full and tightly packed. Do not wait until broccoli plants bolt (go to seed) – they will lose their sweet flavor. Use a knife to neatly cut the crown (main head) from the plant. This is the best way to ensure that side shoots will grow, which can be harvested again in a few weeks.
Broccoli keeps in the refrigerator for a week or two. Blanch, then store in Ziploc bags in the freezer.
Do not plant broccoli near tomatoes, pole beans or strawberries.
The above copy is reprinted from our 95-page, Complete Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening in NJ Zone 6. To order your own, emailed electronic copy of this e-book, simply click the link!