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Introduction on how to grow broccoli from seed.
Broccoli is really popular now. More and more people see the benefits of this green vegetable. Knowing the cancer-fighting capacity and the high vitamin content, everybody should be eating broccoli from time to time.
The best broccoli you’ll ever eat is the one you grow in your own backyard. So, let’s follow along and read all there is to know on how to grow broccoli from seed.
what is broccoli?
Let’s start with what we eat most from the broccoli plant. The broccoli head is, in fact, the immature flower head that grows out to a whole bunch of flowers. We just harvest the head before the flowers start to pop up.
A lot of people also eat the leaves of the broccoli plant. And the leaves can be a real treat as chips.
The broccoli plant itself is part of the brassica family just like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale. The Latin name for broccoli is Brassica oleracea var. Italica.
The word broccoli comes from the Italian language and is a plural. Broccolo means “the flowering crest of cabbage”. Brocco means “small nail” or “sprout”.
Broccoli is a man-made plant. The plant originally came from wild cabbages that were cross-bred by mankind and became the plant that is now so well-known.
Where to grow broccoli?
Broccoli loves the sun. It needs a good fertile and moist soil to thrive.
Did you know that broccoli seeds can germinate when temperatures are as low as 40°F or 4.4°C?
The PH-value of the soil should be between 6 and 7 for optimal growing conditions.
Working in a lot of compost or a thin layer of well-rotted manure will help your broccoli plants to grow and stay healthy.
Don’t forget to use crop rotation. Brassica plants can get in trouble when planted over and over again in the same spot.
When to grow broccoli?
Broccoli is a cold weather crop so it’s mostly grown in spring or fall.
To start in spring, you can start sowing 3 weeks before the last frost. I always start my broccoli indoors so I don’t have to worry about cold temperatures killing off my seedlings. It’s also possible to start the broccoli seeds in a greenhouse. The plants can grow slower in the beginning when started in a greenhouse.
Starting in the autumn takes some calculation. I would count at least 100 days before the first frost date. This way, you’re sure the plants will be harvested before they freeze to death.
taking care of broccoli.
As already mentioned, broccoli really loves a good amount of really fertile soil. It’s also a good practice when you keep the soil moist at all times, but not wet. Brassica plants eat a lot and they drink a lot.
Inspect your plants daily as there are several diseases and pests that can damage the plants easily.
transplanting or planting
You can sow your broccoli seeds in small trays indoors or in the greenhouse. Once they have a couple of true leaves, you can plant them outside when the time is right. Don’t put seedlings outside when there’s frost. If you have to put them outside, cover them so they are protected from the harshest cold.
Transplanting or planting of broccoli is really easy. The plant isn’t difficult when transplanting and touching the roots. It’s possible that the plant is stunted for a while. Just make sure you don’t disturb the roots too much.
Harvesting broccoli is all about timing. You can check the head of the broccoli plant and when the head starts to form little cracks, it’s time to harvest.
Especially when planted in springtime, you should count 10 days less than what is marked on the seed bag.
You can harvest multiple times. So, when the first head is harvested, it’s possible that a couple of side heads will shoot out.
diseases and pests
the mealy cabbage aphid
The mealy cabbage aphid or Brevicoryne brassicae can give the plant a growth shock as it sucks necessary moisture and nutrients out of the plants. The aphids can also bring different diseases onto the plants by spreading it through their saliva.
Aphids tend to come back time after time and every gardener has to deal with them sooner or later. While sucking out the life of your plants, aphids can spread diseases with their saliva.
You can treat the infestation with a hard spray of water or with a homemade insecticidal soap mixture. In any case, you’ll have to treat several times. Keep an interval of 3 to 5 days for 3 to 4 times to kill off the critters and the eggs.
the big cabbage butterfly
The big cabbage butterfly or Pieris brassicae can devastate the plants while in caterpillar stadium.
The caterpillars can eat through the leaves until there’s only a stem left. Using insect-screen can avoid a lot of trouble. In case it’s too late and the plants are infested with caterpillars, it’s possible to use spinosad. Just make sure you read the manual before using because it does have an impact on the soil and other insects. It’s best used in the evening when there are no bees around anymore.
I personally have enough kale plants to remove the caterpillars by hand. Read this article to see what I do.
The small cabbage butterfly
The small cabbage butterfly or Pieris rapae also has a devastating effect on brassica’s, the caterpillar can, just like the caterpillar of his bigger cousin, kill the plants when not timely treated. Insect screen is the way to go. If you’re too late, spinosad can be used.
If you want to have more in-depth information on the cabbage worm, click to this article.
Alticini or flea beetles will devastate the leaves of your plants. They will eat small holes all over the leaves. You can easily treat the beetles with neem oil.
If you clean up in the autumn after the harvest, you can already prevent a lot of problems because the beetle pupae overwinter in the debris on the ground.
There’s a possibility if you have a first attack that you’ll get a second attack after a couple of months. So check the plants in a timely fashion.
One fungus that is quite common is downy mildew or Peronospora parasitica. Bordeaux mixture can prevent the disease from growing but once the fungus is developing, only the removal of the infested plants will help contain the disease. Also, be careful when using Bordeaux mix because this is borderline organic.
There are several bacterial and fungal diseases that can threaten your broccoli plants. Using crop rotation is one of the best ways to prevent these diseases.
I haven’t got all the diseases and pests in this article yet, but if I come across pictures or get the diseases on my plants, I will amend this article.
So this is it for this article on how to grow broccoli from seed, I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.