Growing Broccoli in the Garden

Last weekend we went to a family wedding in West TN. While out there we stopped by and visited my wife’s Uncle Joe in Jackson who loves to garden. He has a variety of plants ranging from broccoli, radishes, and spring greens to tomatoes and peppers. Since I don’t grow broccoli in my garden (I like it but my family doesn’t eat it for some odd reason) I thought I would share a few photos and tips on how Joe grows his broccoli.

Broccoli

The portion of the broccoli plant that we eat is the flowering part. Broccoli will form a flower head with multiple florets which should be harvested before they mature and turn into flowers. It helps to keep the plants cool on hot days since they are very prone to bolting (flowering) like many other spring grown plants. To help prevent the broccoli from premature bolting Joe covers them with a sheet to act as a shade cloth. Covering broccoli with a shade cloth keeps the broccoli 5-10 degrees cooler than the air temperature in the sun which can slow the flowering process down.

Cover broccoli to slow bolting

Joe uses a straw mulch on his raised beds to help maintain good moisture levels in the soil.  As you can see he chose concrete blocks to make his raised beds. They will last a long time and are heavy enough to stay in place without any need for staking. The only disadvantage of a concrete block is in the initial setup phase – they are pretty heavy!

Once you harvest the first head of broccoli leave the plant in place to produce some secondary groups of florets. These florets won’t grow as large as the first one but do allow you to get a second harvest from each plant.

broccoli secondary florets

Broccoli is very prone to attacks by cabbage loopers and other insects so cover them with netting or a row cover to keep pests away!

Row cover from 

Gardener’s Supply Company



Do you grow broccoli in your garden?

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