Useful Tips on How to Grow Broccoli

If you've read the main page of Step-by-step advice on growing broccoli, then all should be brocco whoopee for you.

BUT any little woes, no problemo. With the help of the magnificent tips below, your plants should fire on all cylinders.

These EXTRA tips are for the many people who want to know how to grow broccoli without it bolting to flower, or producing minuscule 'buttons' instead of decent heads... and more....

Tips on how to grow broccoli

When transplanting seedlings

Don't leave it too late to transplant seedlings. This is especially true if when you transplant them, the really cold weather sets in. They need to get well established first, otherwise they may just sit and sulk and bolt to seed later.

How to grow broccoli without it bolting

The number one answer to the perennial question of "Help, I want to know how to grow broccoli without it going to flower too soon?" is do NOT STRESS the plants.

Transplant carefully, keeping as much soil on the roots as possible and the hole deep enough, and plenty of water, and not during the heat of the midday or afternoon sun.

Don't buy these seedlings

If you don't sow your own broccoli seeds, but buy seedlings, make sure they are not past their prime. Leggy, pale, withered or overgrown broccoli seedlings will never recover, even if you coddle them like mad. Never!

They will bolt to flower then seed because they have been STRESSED, and stressed plants then think they had better quickly reproduce, before they keel over and die.

Unlimited pickings

Here's how to grow broccoli, and grow it, and grow it... Once you've sliced off the first top head as explained in harvesting in the main page of growing broccoli, then new side shoots will grow from the leaf axils — lots of eager, tender babies.

If you want less babies, but larger ones, when you slice off the top main head, cutting well down the stem, leaving fewer leaf nodes.

Is broccoli annual or perennial?

Supposedly broccoli is an annual plant... grown, harvested, then kaput at the end of the season. BUT some gardeners have been able to have perennial broccoli that produces year after year.

The secret is to plant sprouting varieties, and you may have to experiment with the different types. Then it is most important that you never stop picking the florets. If you miss and let the flowers open, tough!

Give it a go, keep watering and occasionally apply a weak fertiliser and you could be the envy of all with your perennial, never ending broccoli.

The most suitable type for you

If you're buying broccoli seeds, do read seed catalogues to find out what and when to grow broccoli for your area and climate. Your local plant shop can also advise. Odd weather patterns or the wrong variety growing in the wrong area, can stress your broccoli plants.

For example they may "button", which means they simply form small "button" heads if the weather fluctuates from cold, then warm, then perhaps two weeks of really cold temperatures, then blow-me-down turns into sunbathing weather.

Nitrogen when and how

Here's another little tip to make sure you know how to grow broccoli successfully. Although broccoli like very fertile soil with good nitrogen content, don't add more nitrogen fertiliser when planting — wait until the plants are just beginning to produce heads.

Why? Because you don't want too much leaf and small heads, and you don't want hollow stems.

Depending on the initial richness of your soil, you can apply organic fertiliser, as suggested on the growing broccoli main page, under Nutrient Requirements.

Ouch! Leave my roots alone

Broccoli have quite shallow root systems. They have a multitude of fine root hairs close to the soil surface, so don't even do shallow cultivation around them.

Mulch to keep cool, conserve moisture and reduce weeds. Weeds will rob the soil of nutrients and upset the broccoli roots if you have to disturb the soil by weeding them out.

True to seed

grow broccoli

There are so many new hybrids of broccoli that it's not worth trying to keep track of them all. The heirloom and established open-pollinated varieties will breed true to seed, but you will have to buy new packets of seeds each year for the F1 hybrids.

So if you want to save money and protect the valuable qualities of natural selection broccoli, don't buy new hybrids and save your own broccoli seed each year.

Growing Broccoli — Main page with every broccoli thing you need to know.

List of Vegetables — Lots more vegetables to grow.

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