How to grow and harvest fresh broccoli this winter
June 28, 2017
Growing broccoli at home is a highlight of the winter vegetable garden. I am not a huge fan of broccoli, I eat it because I know it is good for me. Although when I found out I could eat none, to very little when I was diagnosed with SIBO I can’t say I was disappointed. My children on the other hand, LOVE broccoli. They will happily eat as much as is placed on their plate so it stays in the garden and it is a vegetable I don’t need to buy over the winter months. Once the main head is harvested the side shoots are prolific, small and tender they bulk up many winter meals. The tips below outline the things I do each winter to ensure we have an abundant crop of broccoli.
Plant seeds at the end of Autumn or beginning of winter. If you would like to add some to your garden now, add an established seedling. Plants grow to a large size so once seedlings are ready for the garden (when they have three of more leaves) plant them 45 to 60 cm apart.
Broccoli is a heavy feeder so the soil space they are planted in should have compost added prior to planting. The space should not have been previously used for another heavy feeder – eg: tomato or pumpkin.
Broccoli has shallow roots and as the plant grows and becomes taller it will benefit from having the soil around the base mounted up to provide support, and mulch added to keep the soil temperature stable. Keep the plant weed-free.
Broccoli may be grown in part shade. It prefers regular watering but avoid watering over the top of the plant.
Snails and slugs as well as cabbage moth adore broccoli so the plants require some heavy duty protection when the plants are small. As they become large they are robust and can withstand attack. The best method to protect newly planted seedlings is to cover them. Use a cloche or a net to keep off the cabbage moth.
Broccoli needs calcium to produce so add crushed eggshells all around the base of the soil, or in the hole prior to planting. If added around the plant the eggshells will help deter snails and slugs also. Dolomite Lime can also provide the required calcium. Apply according to pack instructions. It will last for 3-6 months so one feed is all that is required.
Plant light feeders around broccoli such as nasturtiums, dill, sage, thyme, radish and lettuce, lavender and rosemary. This will ensure they are not competing for nutrients in the soil.
After the broccoli finishes ensure that light feeders are planted again, adding compost to the soil again once the broccoli have been removed.
Harvest the central head of the broccoli once it is a decent size. Don’t allow it to go to flower. Once it is harvested the side shoots will start to grow. Fertilise regularly after the main head has been harvested to encourage new growth.
These are some of the recipes we enjoy with our home grown broccoli harvests.
Generally my kids are happy for it to be served as a side dish on it’s own so why mess with the perfection the garden delivers?
Are you growing broccoli this winter?
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