Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

When to Plant

Sow directly outside in late spring or start indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost.

Location/Soil

A cool weather crop that likes well drained, moisture retaining soil. Plant in full sun. Plants do best in rich soil.

Planting & Growing Information

Sow seeds 13 mm (1/2″) deep and 13 mm (1/2″) apart. Plants should be spaced 45 cm (18″) apart with rows spaced 60 cm (24″) apart.

When starting indoors it is easiest to sow 3-4 seeds in a Jiffy pot and then thin to the strongest plant. It is best to have transplants set out into the garden by the time they have 6-8 true leaves.

Seeds germinate in approximately 7-10 days.

Days to Maturity

From the date transplanted into the garden. If sown direct into the garden, add approximately 20 days.

Other Information

To reduce the risk of disease it is ideal to practice crop rotation and plant in a different area of the garden that has not grown broccoli or its relatives (cabbage, cauliflower, kale) in the previous 2-3 years.

Cut the crown portion of the stem approximately 8-10 cm (3-4”) down on the stalk to promote the growth of side shoots which will provide an abundance of smaller broccoli heads.

Harvesting & Storage

Mornings are usually the best time to harvest broccoli as it is coolest outside and the plants haven’t taken on the heat of the day yet.

Harvest when heads are hard and green and before yellow flowers appear.

Store broccoli in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and use in 3-4 days.

For best flavor, cook broccoli only until tender/crisp or use raw with dips or in salads. Broccoli freezes very well, maintaining its color, texture and taste.

Companion Planting

Likes: Brassicas, lettuce, onion, sage.

How to Freeze Broccoli

  1. Harvest the vegetables on a day you have plenty of time to prepare them.
  2. Wash the vegetables thoroughly in cool water while you start a pot of water to boil. Also, make an ice bath in the side of a sink or in a large pail at the same time.
  3. Cut broccoli into separate florets. Many prefer pieces about 2 inches long by 1½ inches wide.
  4. When water is at a rolling boil, plunge them into boiling water for about 2-3 minutes and then remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon or dump them into a strainer and place immediately into an ice bath for 30 seconds or longer to stop the cooking.
  5. Once the broccoli has cooled, drain them and put into freezer bags. Seal them and label them with the name and date. Stow in the freezer for up to 6 months.