Broccoli has a bad reputation as a vegetable that kids don’t like. If prepared correctly it doesn’t need to be that way. Growing your own broccoli is a great way to encourage the whole family to give this nutritious powerhouse a fair chance. A treasure trove of varying nutrients, broccoli has its roots in Italy. It descended from wild cabbage during ancient Roman times. Brought to the New World by Italian settlers, it holds quite a celebrity status today among the various health foods.
Besides being an excellent source of vitamins C and K, chromium and folate, broccoli is a very good source of vitamins A, B6, B2 and E. It also contains a decent amount of phosphorus, manganese, and potassium as well.
Homegrown broccoli allows you to cash in on its health benefits without any of the chemical pesticides or fertilizers used to grow commercial produce.
The easiest way to grow broccoli plants is from seeds. Plant your broccoli in the spring or fall to ensure harvest-promoting growth conditions. A crop of cool-season broccoli likes low temperatures (45°F to 75°F) and must have full sun for the best yield.
Broccoli prefers a slightly alkaline soil (pH 6.0 to 7.5), but that is not a big concern when growing broccoli in the way described here. Broccoli is troubled by a few pests and occasional clubroot disease when grown in the ground.
The real trick for most gardeners with broccoli is judging when to harvest it. Once you learn how to identify heads suited for harvest you’ll do just fine.
- Steps to Grow Broccoli in a Pot
- Step 1. Mix potting soil and organic compost & plant the seeds
- Step 2. Monitor the development of the seedlings
- Step 3. Line the bottom of the pot with coffee filter and put in the prepared soil
- Step 4. Transfer the seedling to the pot
- Step 5. Monitor the plant’s growth
- Step 6. Harvest the broccoli heads timely
- Additional Tips
Steps to Grow Broccoli in a Pot
Things you’ll need:
For germinating seeds
- Organic bagged compost
- Organic bagged potting soil
- Small planter/Germination tray
- Gloves (optional)
- Garden spray bottle
- Hand Trowel
- Plant tag
- Medium sized bowl
- Bagged Potting Soil
- Large pot
- Coffee filters or small piece of landscape fabric
- Organic bagged compost
- Gloves (optional)
- Garden spray bottle
- Plant tag (optional) to label the plant
Step 1. Mix potting soil and organic compost & plant the seeds
In the bowl, combine potting soil and organic compost in equal portions. You need enough mix to fill your small planter or germination tray. Make sure the item you are using as a pot has a hole in the bottom for water to drain out.
Fill it with organic compost and potting soil mixture.
Place 3-4 broccoli seeds on the surface of the prepared soil mix. Broccoli seeds are very small and brown in color. You can purchase them online or from your local garden center. It’s best to have fresh seed, but broccoli seed remains viable for several years.
Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix. Don’t use more than 1/4" potting mix to cover your seeds.
Water the soil lightly, just enough to make it moist. Be sure not to flood the soil in the planter.
If necessary, label the planter to distinguish it from other plants in your garden. Place the planter in full sun. Although broccoli likes cool weather, it requires maximum sunlight to ensure healthy growth. Depending on how hot it is outdoors, this could be either inside your home on a very sunny window, under a special grow light, or outside on a porch or garden. Remember broccoli like temperatures between 45°F and 75°F best.
Step 2. Monitor the development of the seedlings
Broccoli needs cool weather. The seeds germinate when the temperature is between 45°F and 75°F. The germination process can even tolerate a temperature as low as 40°F. Broccoli can tolerate frost, but only after the plants are up and growing a while. The seeds start germinating a few days after sowing. Within 4 to 6 weeks, the seedlings become mature enough for transplanting.
As the seedlings grow, thin the batch to allow only the strongest ONE seedling in each pot. This doesn't necessarily require to be the tallest one, but should be the thickest stem with the most leaves. If seedlings don’t get enough sunlight, they are very thin and floppy. If that happens, try starting a new seed and moving the pot to a sunnier spot.
Mix fertile organic bagged potting soil and organic bagged compost together in a ratio of 1 parts compost to 3 parts potting soil. Work the mixture between your hands to remove any lumps.
The soil should be well-draining and fertile with a high content of organic matter. Broccoli can tolerate slightly alkaline soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
Select a pot with holes at the bottom that is 10-12" in diameter and 8-12" tall. Line the holes with a piece of landscape fabric or coffee filters to cover the holes. This keeps the soil from running out of the holes but allows water to drain freely.
Fill the pot with the prepared soil leaving about 1" from the top edge of the pot. Do not hard pack the soil, let it stay loose.
Step 4. Transfer the seedling to the pot
Gently squeeze the side of your small planter or germination tray containing the broccoli plant, turn the cup onto its side and carefully slide the entire block of soil out into your hand. The roots of your little broccoli seedling should not be disturbed. The entire block is then placed in the center of its new larger pot.
Make a hole in the center of your potting mix in the new pot roughly the same size as the block of soil containing your broccoli seedling and place it into the hole. Scoop the soil in the pot back around the block nestling it into its new home.
Broccoli requires consistent moisture. Water the soil liberally using your watering can. Water the new pot until water begins to run out of the bottom drainage holes. Keep the pot in a sunny spot just like you did with the smaller pot. Keep your plant consistently moist, but not wet. Water when the soil on the surface of the pot begins to feel dry.
Step 5. Monitor the plant’s growth
Ensure that your broccoli gets uninhibited sun. Although broccoli will tolerate some shade, it will slow the maturing of the plant. Regularly check for any signs of disease or pests.
Regularly check for any signs of disease or pests. If you are growing your broccoli outdoors, you might see white butterflies flitting around it and then see small holes in the leaves. These butterfly lay eggs on your broccoli, one of their favorite foods, and the hatched caterpillars can do a lot of damage to the plant. They can be hand picked, or you can exclude the butterflies from laying eggs by covering your plants with a fine mesh sheer fabric and loosely tie it around the stem of the plant above the soil line. Make sure you adjust the mesh fabric as the plant grows.
Take special care when a broccoli head appears and monitor it closely. Harvest the heads when they become 4 to 7 inches wide. But more specifically, harvest when the individual florets, the little green bumps, become the size of the head of a small matchstick.
However, if you spot a hint of yellow in the head, harvest it immediately. Yellow indicates that the florets are blooming. While there is nothing wrong with letting a plant bloom, broccoli becomes bitter and unappetizing after blooming – not the kind you would want on your dinner table.
Step 6. Harvest the broccoli heads timely
Pick a spot on the stalk about 5 inches below the head. Cut it with a sharp knife, quickly and carefully. Avoid sawing motions, which cause unnecessary damage to the plants. Keep taking care of the plant as new smaller shoots will continue to grow from the cut surface.
- Too much nitrogen sometimes causes hollow stems in broccoli.
- Cabbage worms, cabbage root maggots, cabbage flies and flea beetles are the few pests that sometimes trouble broccoli.
- Slugs, snails, and cut worms also feed on the plant. Remove them immediately as they can damage the plants.
- Timely planting will provide you with ideal temperature conditions. Deviating from ideal temperature conditions can delay maturing as well as cause the heads to bolt or flower prematurely.