Most of us probably know that former President George HW Bush was pretty vocal about the fact that he didn’t like broccoli. He’s entitled to his opinion but there are a great many people out there who do like broccoli and now is the time to plant some in your garden. Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and is loaded with important vitamins such as A and C. It can be eaten raw as well as cooked so it is very versatile in the kitchen. Broccoli is a cool weather vegetable and doesn’t appreciate hotter weather so planting it early in the spring is the key to growing it successfully.
Broccoli can be a little bit of a demanding plant. It not only doesn’t like the heat but it requires very rich soil with a lot of nutrients. It often needs a boost of fertilizer and it is such a heavy feeder that you should not grow broccoli in the same spot year after year or you will “tire the soil” out. It also requires full sun and needs to be kept regularly watered and/or heavily mulched. It is subject to attack by insects such as slugs and cut worms so it is important to keep an eye on the plant for any signs of pest damage such as holes in the leaves. To prevent cut worms you can place some cardboard in the shape of a circle around the stem at the soil level. If you have a roll of tape with a cardboard center that is almost finished you can slip it around the stem and gently press it into the soil.
If you are planting broccoli in the spring you can either buy plants or start it directly in the garden from seed.Broccoli requires a lot of room so you want to be able to leave about 2 feet between each plant. It is also a good idea to consider planting several varieties of broccoli as depending upon the seasonal conditions in your area one variety might have better success than another variety. This way, you increase your chances of having a good crop regardless of what the conditions are this year. If you’ve had success with a particular varieties of broccoli in your area please share it with us on our Facebook page. You’ll want to harvest the broccoli head while it is still compact as this is when it tastes the best. If the florets start to spread out it could mean the plant is about to bolt which is another way of saying it is going to flower for the purpose of eventually developing seeds. So, if you’ve never tried to grow it and you love to eat it why not give broccoli a try in your garden this fall!