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A head of broccoli grows in the field
Broccoli is a wonderful and nutritious cool-season crop that’s packed with antioxidants. Best of all, when you grow your own broccoli, you get the choice of a range of colours, small or large heads, and leaves that are suitable for a variety of dishes and cuisines, fresh from your garden.

What you need to know about broccoli

Name: broccoli, Brassica oleracea.

Height: 45–60cm.

Foliage: annual.

Climate: all climates, depending on variety.

Soil: prefers a deep, well-drained soil enriched with compost, decomposed manure and blood and bone.

Position: full sun.

Flowering and fruiting: heads develop 15–20 weeks from sowing.

Feeding: fortnightly applications of liquid fertiliser and a seaweed solution when heads start to form.

Watering: deep watering 2–3 times a week; more often during warm or dry weather.

Appearance and characteristics of broccoli

Broccoli is a surprisingly productive and gratifying crop to grow. There are many varieties and types available, from large-headed broccolis, similar to cauliflower, through to small broccolini types, which can be harvested continuously throughout the season, producing smaller bunching shoots over several weeks. Available in colours ranging from lime green through to blue and purple, broccoli is an old-world favourite with a modern culinary twist.

Cook broccoli in a bowl

How to plant and grow broccoli

Broccoli, along with most other members of the Brassica or cabbage family, is best grown throughout the cooler months to avoid pests.

Planting tips

  1. Sow seed in punnets filled with propagating or seed-raising mix to ensure successful germination.
  2. Do not allow seed to dry out during germination. A covered propagating tray is ideal, as it maintains moisture and encourages seed germination and growth.
  3. When seeds develop 3–4 real leaves, transplant seedlings out into a garden bed enriched with compost, decomposed manure and blood and bone or dynamic lifter. Space plants around 50cm apart (depending on variety).
  4. Cover with a frame and exclusion netting to prevent pest damage.
  5. Water regularly, especially when weather is dry.

Caring for broccoli

Broccoli is a heavy feeder and benefits from fortnightly applications of liquid seaweed and fish solutions. Watch for pests and water regularly.

Harvest the large heads when mature using a sharp knife, but do not remove the plant; your broccoli will continue to produce smaller heads off the stem, like mini broccoli, for several weeks, helping to increase your harvest and season.

Water broccoli regularly, especially while young. Regular deep watering is better than a quick splash around with the hose, as it encourages a deeper, more developed root system. Apply liquid fertiliser like a seaweed solution or fish concentrate fortnightly over the growing season, especially when heads start to develop.

Harvesting broccoli

When planted from seed, broccoli takes around 100–150 days to be mature for harvest. From seedlings, it takes 55 to 80 days to grow. Harvest when the heads are still green and compact, before they turn yellow or start flowering.

How to harvest and store broccoli

  1. Harvest in the morning before the ground heats up.
  2. Cut the head off the plant, including about 6 inches of stem.
  3. Side shoots will continue to develop, and these can be continually harvested for a few weeks.
  4. Store broccoli in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Diseases and pests affecting broccoli

A member of the cabbage family, broccoli is prone to attack from several pests and diseases common to these plants. Apply snail and slug pellets at planting and net with insect exclusion netting to minimise caterpillar damage. If caterpillars are present, spray with Dipel. Aphids can be problematic, too. Some nets will also prevent these pests impacting your crop, otherwise spray with eco-oil.

Fungal problems can occur in humid areas or when weather is warm. Space plants accordingly, and avoid overhead watering.

Crop rotation (growing certain groups of plants in different parts of the garden each season) will help to reduce the incidence of club root, as well as other soil-borne pests and diseases.

Healthy plants are always more resistant to pests and diseases than stressed plants. A fortnightly application of liquid fertiliser and seaweed solution will help to keep your plants strong and resilient.

How to grow broccoli from seed

An annual vegetable, broccoli is propagated by seed. It is best to buy fresh seed each year instead of collecting your own, because broccoli regularly cross-pollinates with other members of the cabbage family, producing some unusual results. Of course, if you do want to try gathering your own seed or you have grown only one type of Brassica, you will need to let one head go to seed, instead of harvesting it for the table. Let it mature until it produces pods—these contain the seed. Leave the pods to dry on the plant before harvesting.

Crush the pods to release the seed. Winnow the seed by gently blowing air into a bowl to separate the pod fragments (also known as chaff) from the seed. Place seed in an envelope and clearly label with the variety and date, then store in a cool, dry place, ready for sowing next year.

Safety tip

After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

If you like this then try

Cabbage: another cool-season crop to sow and grow with broccoli.

Brussels sprouts: a cool-climate and cool-garden favourite with a short season.

Kale: produces an abundant harvest of cabbage-type leaves in all climates.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.