GrowIn' Broccoli

Family name: Brassica (Cruciferae)

Vegetables that belong to this family are Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, calabrese, cauliflower, radish, swede, turnip and broccoli. All these can be grown in the same way.

Like all Brassicas, broccoli is biannual. This means they will survive in winter and produce food in the spring, which is a time of scarcity for people who eat mainly from their own garden.

Varieties of broccoli

There are two varieties of broccoli, the purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese. Calabrese is the broccoli you usually see in supermarkets, since it is ready in summertime. The purple sprouting broccoli is ready in spring.

Soil, sowing and planting

Broccoli benefits from a pH of 6,5 in the soil (neutral). Any garden soil will do, provided you put good well rotten compost into it beforehand.  The broccoli plant doesn’t mind to get transplanted, therefore first grow the little seedlings in modules and plant into bigger pots when they are about 10 centimeters high. When the plants are about 25 centimeters high you plant them 40 centimeters apart in their permanent bed.

Both varieties of broccoli are sown in May.


The harvest of calabrese takes place in June/July. The purple sprouting broccoli is harvested between February and May the following year. Of the broccoli you harvest the heads before the flowers open. Provided there is enough foliage you could eat the leaves as well.

Pests and diseases

Broccoli can get several diseases of which the worst is clubroot. Clubroot is a fungi disease. You recognize Clubroot on your plants once you have finished harvesting them and see the roots are very swollen. The best way to prevent this is to practice crop rotation, as the spores can lie dormant in the soil for up to seven years. You may also get rid of Clubroot by bringing the pH up to 7 by adding lime to the soil.

Another problem can be caused by the cabbage rootfly, which lays its eggs just on the surface of the soil by the roots of the plant. When the eggs hatch the maggots go down an start eating the fine hairs of the roots. This depletes the plant from nutrients and can even kill the plant. It is possible to prevent this by putting collars made out of old plastic or Tetra packs around the base of each plant. If the plants are effected you could earth the plant up, whereby you put the soil high up on the stem. This sends secondary roots into the earth top soil, making nutrients available again to the plant. This is not a fail save method, though. It is better to avoid this problem in the first place.

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