Saturday, February 4, 2012

How to Grow Broccoli

Name: Broccoli


**Tolerates cool climates very well. In warmer climates, grow the crop in the fall so that it gives you plenty of food in the winter (in warmer climates, it will flower very quickly in the summer, giving you a sparse crop, which is why you should grow this for the fall/winter)

**Choose a spot with good drainage and air circulation

**Choose a spot where broccoli has not grown for a few years

**It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade

**You do not need a lot of land for this crop because each individual plant gives a lot of food. Six plants in a 4x6 foot plot is a good start.

**This plant needs a rich soil with plenty of nitrogen. You should give each plant a shovelful of compost or manure. Calcium is also important and you can add more calcium to the soil by adding lime. The ideal pH for broccoli is a neutral 7.0.

**To grow a spring crop, you can start seeds indoors in a sunny but cool place 6-7 weeks before the last frost date and set the seedlings out when the plants are 5-6 inches tall/approx. 2-3 weeks before the last frost date.

**You can also sow the seeds directly in the garden for your spring crop. In a cooler climate, you can do this a month before the last frost date. In a warmer climate, you can do this very early in the spring. Sow several seeds in clusters and later snip off all but the strongest plants.

**You can also produce a spring crop from transplants from your local garden store.

**A good idea is to plant several spring broccoli crops in succession in order to keep a good supply coming along. You can keep them producing for a long while as long as you keep up with the harvesting.

**For a fall crop, you should set out transplants in late June or July. In a warmer climate, however, you might want to wait until August or early September.

**A good mulch will help the plants retain a balanced moisture.

**In times of drought, give them a long, deep soaking, especially if the soil is very dry.

**You only have to give broccoli extra food if you are trying to speed the maturity of the plant. If this is the case, give the plants a dose of fish emulsion or blood meal.

**For pests: cutworms love baby broccoli plants, so keep an eye out for them. You may also have problems with green cabbage worms, though the worst thing the green cabbage worms do is get picked with the broccoli and end up on the dinner plate with your meal (they are very well hidden). Simply check your broccoli very carefully before cooking and serving or soak the broccoli in salt water to kill and dislodge them. You may also have problems with aphids, simply spray them off with a hose.

**You can prevent diseases to your plants by following a crop rotation system. See: Crop Rotation Guide for a great example.

**When the first bunch has formed in the center of the plant, cut it off with a sharp knife above any new buds that might be forming. If you don’t keep up with the picking, the green heads will send up tall yellow flowers. This means that the plant will stop producing edible stalks.

**You can cook and eat stalks with flowers that have started to open, but the flowers turn brown when cooked, which is not very attractive on the dinner plate.

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