Creating a Life of Plenty

Fall Harvest Continues: Broccoli

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I admit I am a finicky Broccoli eater. I like it three ways…steamed, blanched or in soup…that is it. Raw broccoli is gross and reminds me of those insipid vegetable trays from the grocery store (ick!). Roasted Broccoli is too bitter and boiled and smothered in cheese sauce is simply nasty.

How you prepare and enjoy Broccoli is completely your choice; as for growing it, it couldn’t be easier.

You can easily figure the perfect time to plant broccoli seeds this fall. If you want to sow seeds directly in the garden, do so about 85 to 100 days before the average first fall frost in your area, which happens in mid to late summer in most places (including here in Ohio). If you prefer to grow from transplants, figure the date for getting your plants in the ground by adding 10 days to the “days to maturity” for the variety you’re growing, and then counting backwards from your expected first fall frost date.

Broccoli grows best in full sun and where the soil is slightly acidic, fertile, and well-drained, yet consistently moist and rich in organic matter.

Fall broccoli has specific spacing requirements. If you’re gardening intensively in a raised bed, space your plants 15 to 18 inches apart..

Broccoli is a moderately heavy feeder, so work in 2 to 4 inches of rich compost or a thin layer of well-aged manure before planting. Rabbit manure is excellent if available, otherwise good compost will do.

Offer cold-weather protection with floating row covers, which provide an additional 4 degrees to 8 degrees F worth of warmth, shielding harvests from heavy freezes and extending the season by up to four weeks. Or cover broccoli with tunnels or a coldframe, which can boost daytime temperatures by 10 degrees to 30 degrees F.

Harvest broccoli heads while the buds are just starting to swell but before the yellow petals start to show. Keep an eye on the head, for when it begins to spread open, the individual buds start to flower. Harvest the central head by cutting the stalk at a slant, about 5 to 8 inches below the head. This encourages side-shoot production for continued harvests.

Happy Gardening!

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