Growing broccoli plants from seed is easy to do at home and saves money on buying seedlings. Broccoli are a must for the winter garden. Most varieties will not only produce a centre head but will also give you continuous picking from the side shoots.
It is best to germinate broccoli seeds in the late summer or early autumn (fall) in warmer areas. Cooler regions will be able to grow broccoli all year round.
Germinating Broccoli Seeds
You can sow directly in the garden into clumps then thin out to one seedling per clump however it is easiest to germinate broccoli seeds in trays or punnets.
Tools and Equipment Needed
- Trays or Punnets
- Potting Mix and Seed Raising Mix
- Broccoli Seeds (Paid link)
- Plastic or Glass (Optional)
How to Germinate Broccoli Seed
- Prepare the Tray
To save on the more expensive seed raising mix fill the tray halfway with potting mix then fill to the top half with the seed raising mix. You can also make your own seed raising mix from potting mix with this guide.
Next water the tray well then place in a saucer that will hold water.
- Prepare the Seed Depth
Make indentations with your finger 5mm (¼ inch) deep.
- Sow the Broccoli Seed
Place 1 to 2 seeds in each hole then gently cover with seed raising mix.
- Keep Moist
Keep moist either by misting the top with water regularly or keep the tray in a saucer of water. The water will be drawn up through the soil.
- Using Glass
If the weather is turning cool you can place the punnet under glass or plastic to speed up germination.
- Seedlings Emerge
The seedlings will emerge in 7 to 12 days.
Planting Out Broccoli Seedlings
When the second leaves have emerged, it is safe to plant the broccoli seedlings in their final position.
Choose a position with full sun to part shade. The soil will need to be well cultivated. Dig in compost or well-aged manure into the soil then add lime if your soil is acidic. Each plant should be spaced 60cm (2 foot) apart.
If you live in an area with low rainfall it is a good idea to build up a rim of soil around the plant to keep the water where it is needed. This will save on water costs.
Water the punnet well then carefully pull apart the roots. Plant up to the first leaves then mulch with straw or sugarcane mulch. Water in well then keep moist for the first two weeks until the seedlings settle.
Caring for Broccoli Plants
Water regularly and fertilise with liquid fertiliser every two weeks for best results.
Keep an eye on white moths and other pests. If they become a problem you may need to use vegetable dust (paid link) however if you grow broccoli during the winter when these bugs are less active it will not be necessary to use chemicals. They become the most active in the spring.
Young seedlings may need to be protected from snails. A few snail pellets usually do the trick or you can make a snail barrier around the plant with crushed egg shells.
When to Harvest Broccoli
The centre broccoli head is ready to harvest when it has filled out but before it begins to flower. It is usually 12 to 16 weeks from sowing.
Be aware that if you are living in drought conditions or have experienced other stressing weather conditions the broccoli head may not be as large as normal.
Once the centre head is cut new shoots will emerge. These look like broccolini and are wonderful added to stir fry’s or just steamed on their own.
When your broccoli plant has finished producing roughly chop up the stems and leaves with your shovel then add to your compost bin. Nothing goes to waste!
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