Companion plants for broccoli

Crop rotation will benefit vegetable crops in two ways: first, it will prevent the build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases; second, it will allow for the replenishment and efficient use of soil nutrients.

Crop rotation is the practice of growing different crops, rather than the same vegetable or members of the same family of vegetables, in the same place each year.

To minimize pest and disease problems and to help renew soil nutrients, members of the same plant family should not be planted in the same part of the garden more than once every three or four years.

Vegetable insect pests tend to feed on similar plants and members of the same plant family. For example, an insect pest that attacks and eats cabbage will lay its eggs before it dies. If cabbage or a member of the cabbage family is planted in the same spot the next year, the eggs of the insect will hatch and the pests will find exactly the food they need to continue the pest life cycle. Soilborne diseases–fungi, bacteria, and viruses–also can be hosted by specific plants as well. Removing host plants or alternating unrelated plants into the garden can break the cycle of pests and disease.

Crop rotation also helps prevent soil nutrients from being depleted. Vegetables draw upon a wide range of soil nutrients for growth: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the key or major soil nutrients. Members of the same vegetable family usually draw the same nutrients from the soil.

Crop rotation will prevent the soil from wearing out: heavy nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium feeding crops such as tomatoes are rotated with soil-building crops such as beans which add nitrogen to the soil and then with light-feeding crops such as onions.

Major plant families and some notes on crop rotation:

• Onion Family (Amaryllis Family, Amaryllidaceae): Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots. These are light feeders. Plant these after heavy feeders or after soil enrichers such as beans.
• Cabbage Family (Brassica, Cruciferae): Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips. These are heavy feeders. These crops should follow legumes. After these crops allow the garden to go fallow for a season or plant a cover crop or add plenty of compost and organic matter to the garden.
• Lettuce Family (Composite, Daisy Family, Asteraceae): Artichokes, chicory, endive, lettuce. These are heavy feeders. Follow these crops with legumes.
• Beet Family (Goosefoot Family, Chenopodiaceae): Beets, spinach, Swiss chard. These are heavy feeders. Follow these crops with legumes.
• Grass Family (Graminae): Grains–corn, oats, rye, wheat. Follow these crops with members of the tomato or Solanaceae family.
• Bean Family (Legume, Leguminosae): Beans and peas, clover, vetch. These crops enrich the soil, soil builders. Plant these crops before or after any other crop family.
• Tomato Family (Nightshade Family, Solanaceae): Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes. These crops are heavy feeders. Plant these crops after members of the grass family. Follow these crops with legumes.
• Squash Family (Cucurbitaceae): Cucumbers, melons, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, watermelon. These crops are heavy feeders. Plant these crops after members of the grass family. Follow these crops with legumes.
• Carrot Family (Umbellifer Family, Umbelliferae): Carrots, celery, anise, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley. These are light to medium feeders. These crops can follow any other group. Follow these crops with legumes, onions, or let the garden sit fallow for a season.

You can use the notes above to accomplish crop rotation or you can simplify the rotation as follows:

Simple Four-Year Crop Rotation Plan:

To follow a simple four-year crop rotation, divide your garden into four areas or plots: Plot One, Plot Two, Plot Three, and Plot Four. In each of the next four years, grow a different crop or different members of the four crop families in a different plot following this rotation:

• Plot One: Tomato family (year 1); Others–see list below (year 2); Bean family (year 3–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown); Cabbage family (year 4).
• Plot Two: Cabbage family (year 1); Tomato family (year 2); Others–see list below (year 3); Bean family (year 4–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown).
• Plot Three: Bean family (year 1–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown); Cabbage family (year 2); Tomato family (year 3); Others–see list below (year 4).
• Plot Four: Others–see list below (year 1); Bean family (year 2–but avoid planting beans where onion family crops have just grown); Cabbage family (year 3); Tomato family (year 4).

This four-year crop rotation intersperses members of the other vegetable families among members of the Tomato, Bean, and Cabbage families, and Others. Here is how they are grouped:

1. Tomato Family and others (Solanaceae family)

Tomatoes
Peppers
Eggplant
Potatoes
Beets
Carrots
Celeriac and celery
Parsnips
Salsify
Scorzonera

2. Bean Family (Leguminosae family)

Peas
Broad (fava) beans
French (green) beans
Runner beans

3. Cabbage Family and others (Brassica family)

Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbages
Calabrese (Italian sprouting broccoli)
Cauliflowers
Radishes
Rutabagas (Swedes)
Turnips

4. Others

Sweet corn
Squashes, zucchini, and pumpkins (marrow and courgettes)

Lettuces

Garlic–avoid planting beans in the same location after garlic
Leeks–avoid planting beans in the same location after leeks
Onions–avoid planting beans in the same location after onions
Shallots–avoid planting beans in the same location after shallots

Perennial Vegetables
Not included in crop rotation are perennial vegetable crops which grow in the same spot for several years in a row. Perennial crops include:
Asparagus
Globe artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes
Perennial herbs
Rhubarb
Seakale

Small garden crop rotation:

No garden is too small for crop rotation. A simple garden map showing where each crop is planted will help you plan and plant a different crop in that spot next year. To plan crop rotation in a small garden, map out strips or blocks–rows or square feet–and avoid planting vegetables from the same crop family in that spot more than once every three years.

The Vegie Guide: Crop Rotation

Basic, Practical Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is a practice designed to minimise pests and diseases, reduce chemical use, aid in building and maintaining healthy soil, and manage nutrient requirements – all which will maximise yield. The principles of crop rotation have been successfully used for thousands of years in agriculture and are still used today. The simplicity of crop rotation allows the practice to be used in your own home with great success. In the ‘Gardening Australia Vegetable Planting Guide’ you will find each vegetable is listed with its family name, it is this information that will help you apply the principles of crop rotation to your vegetable plot at home.

Crop rotation is just that – rotating crops, so that no bed or plot sees the same crop in successive seasons. Using the information in the ‘Gardening Australia Vegetable Planting Guide’ to help plan your rotation system, you can benefit in many ways from this practice.

  • Reduces the build up of pests and diseases in the soil by removing their preferred host and therefore breaking the pest or disease’s lifecycle, reducing and even removing your requirement for chemical spraying.
  • Manages soil pH and nutrient levels, to help your vegetables get the most out of your soil. Use of composts, manures, lime and fertilisers at the right times will benefit successive crops.
  • Building soil. Using organic matter, your own compost and growing green manure crops to add nitrogen keeps your soil healthy and working – good soil is the key to producing great crops.

For Starters

Just think of vegetables in terms of family name. In successive years or seasons, we don’t want to plant Broccoli for example, which is a member of the Brassicaceae family in the same plot. As well as this we don’t want to plant any other members of the Brassicaceae family in this same plot either (Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Cabbage etc…), as they are affected by the same pests and diseases. So we group them together (Brassicaceae) and rotate them to another bed that hasn’t seen Brassica for a number of years. We group certain plants together and they are rotated as a group. For example, beans and peas are both in the Legume group, and garlic and onions are in the Allium group. With a little planning you will have your crop rotation system going in no time.

The Next Level

For advanced gardeners we also need to think about the way plants feed or draw nutrients from the soil, for example; The Brassicaceae family (Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Cabbage etc…) require lots of nitrogen for good leaf growth and are generally considered heavy feeders . A crop to follow nitrogen hungry Brassicas may be legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils. Legumes feed lightly and have the ability to ‘fix’ nitrogen into soils, improving the nitrogen content for future plantings. Tomatoes and capsicums (acid lovers) like a lower pH, and the pH usually drops (becomes more acidic) as more compost and manure is added to soil, so lime should be applied after they are finished ready for a crop that enjoys a higher pH – common sense.

Example of a Simple Rotation Plan

Crop rotation plans can be based around any number of successive years past about 3. Pete’s Patch was based around a six year/six bed system and has been quite successful. Six vegetable beds in your back yard may not be practical, a four year/four bed system works well. Each system will be different – as we all want to grow different things in our gardens, but this example will help you plan your individual rotation schedule.

An example of crop groups in a four year rotation would be as follows.

Legumes & Pod Crops Brassicas & Leaf Vegetables Alliums Other (Root and Fruiting Crops)
Okra
Runner Beans
Lima Beans
Peas
Broad Beans

Kales,Cauliflowers

Cabbages, Brussels Sprouts
Mustard Greens, Pak Choi
Swedes & other Turnips
Radishes, Silverbeet, Spinach

Onions (All types)
Shallots
Chives
Leeks
Garlic
Capsicums, Tomatoes,
Celery, Beetroot, Salsify
Parsnips, Carrots, Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes, Corn

A yearly rotation schedule would look something like this.

Bed 1 Bed 2 Bed 3 Bed 4
Year 1 Brassicas Other Alliums Legumes
Year 2 Legumes Brassicas Other Alliums
Year 3 Alliums Legumes Brassicas Other
Year 4 Other Alliums Legumes Brassicas

These examples may be used in your garden, if you so desire – though everyone’s soil, climate and tastes vary so a little adaption will most likely be required. There are many methods to crop rotation some are simple like the one just shown but others can get quite complicated, some even include a ‘fallow year’, which is a year where nothing is grown in that particular bed. There are many things you may want to incorporate into your rotation schedule although the general and most basic rule of thumb is the longer you can leave between the same crop grown in the same spot the better.

Crop Rotation: What to Plant After Tomatoes


Wondering what to plant after tomatoes?

Crop rotation is incredibly important, as it optimizes the nutrients in your soil, and assists in growing absolutely delicious tomatoes.

Why Practice Crop Rotation?

Farmers world-wide have used certain practices to enhance the quality of their produce, such as growing by the phases of the moon. Crop rotation is one of these practices. Farmers discovered long, long ago that by growing certain crops in a certain sequence, they were able to optimize the precious resources of the soil.

If one crop is grown season after season, year after year, without a break, the soil will tend to deteriorate in both structure and the content of nutrients. But if crop rotation is practiced correctly, each subsequent crop will add nutrients to the soil that were used up by the previous crop. Crop rotation also minimizes the risk of nematodes and disease.

How to Practice Crop Rotation

The simplest rule of thumb is to grow an above-ground crop and then a below-ground crop. Better still rotate the four crop groups that benefit most from crop rotation. These are:

  • Solanaceous crops including both tomatoes and potatoes, peppers and eggplants, capsicums and chillies.
  • Cruciferous crops including cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale.
  • Root crops including beetroot, carrots, parsnips, salsify and turnips (remember that potatoes are NOT a root crop, they are a tuber).
  • Leguminous crops that include all the beans and peas you can think of.

Cucurbitaceous crops can be grown at any time.

Cucurbitaceous crops – cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes and marrows, and various melons – and various other miscellaneous crops – from Swiss chard and spinach to leeks, celery, lettuce, endive and artichokes – can generally be included anywhere, unless of course they make a bad companion plant to others planted at the same time.

The key to enjoying the benefits of successful crop rotation is planning. You should decide in advance what you will grow and where, using the above categories to make the most of your soil’s nutrients. Don’t forget to consider the seasons when planning your crop rotation. There’s no point trying to grow tomatoes in a frosty winter, even if you’ve just harvested a crop of carrots.

We cover crop rotation in great detail in our best-selling tomato growing guide, How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes, so why not grab a copy and become an expert yourself?

What to Plant After Tomatoes

What to plant after tomatoes? Try beans.

Legumes and then the cruciferous crops, including brassicas, are what to plant after tomatoes.

Legumes are known to trap nitrogen in nodules that form on their roots, adding nitrogen to the soil.

But this benefit is only realized if the whole plant goes back into the soil. Harvesting the pods minimizes the nutrients, so leave some plants to die and rot.

Leafy vegetables use up loads of nitrogen – which is why you should plant the brassicas after growing beans and peas. But you will still need to feed the soil and add manure and compost for the crop to really thrive. If they do thrive, leafy vegetables will generally enrich the soil with phosphorus, which the root crops thrive on. The root crops then leave behind some extra potassium that our tomatoes love!

Planting Multiple Solanaceous Crops

Another factor to consider, particularly in terms of solanaceous crops, is that the different types should ideally not be grown within three years of one another. So if you want to grow tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergines, you’ll need to plant different areas at different times, rotating the crops differently all the time.

What to Learn More?

Crop rotation is just one important step in creating your own vegetable garden. There is so much more to learn, and when you put the effort in, you won’t believe the results! Pick up a copy of How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes, and get gardening! And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below.

Experienced organic gardeners bring diversity and balance to the garden with the age-old wisdom of companion planting, a time-tested method of close planting specific species based on their propensity to enhance each other’s growth and quality. Companion planting can help you grow a thriving crop of delicious, healthy broccoli.

Companion plants offer shade or shelter, conserve moisture, control weeds, enrich flavor, or provide some form of disease or insect protection. Companion plants, with differing nutritional needs, also work harmoniously to balance nutrient levels in the soil.

When choosing plants for companion planting, consider selecting non-competitive plants with differing nutritional needs and growth habits. Companion planting is an especially important gardening technique when trying to use space efficiently in a small garden.

Best Companion Plants For Broccoli

For optimum flavor, plant broccoli near celery, onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and potatoes. Other garden favorites that grow well planted alongside broccoli are beets, bush beans, dill, lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, cucumbers, Swiss chard, and radishes.

Broccoli and onions are good neighbors. davidgiesberg / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Fragrant culinary herbs such as lemon balm, lemon grass, thyme, sage, horehound, hyssop, basil, rosemary, tansy, oregano, chamomile, and mint help repel insect pests (e.g. harlequin bugs, cabbage worms, cabbage loppers, and cabbage maggots) that can quickly devastate a broccoli crop.

Nasturtiums, marigolds, snapdragons, and cosmos emit a scent that is repulsive to many garden pests including cabbage worms, whiteflies, flea beetles, cabbage root maggots, and aphids. These colorful blooming plants help keep the garden free of insects without the use of noxious chemical insecticides while adding color, scent, and visual interest to the homestead garden plot.

Unfriendly Neighbors For Broccoli

Broccoli, one of the most nutritious of all vegetables, gets along well with most of its neighbors: more plant species flourish when planted close to broccoli than fail. Broccoli’s only problem is getting along with its own family, especially in poor soil conditions.

Broccoli is a heavy feeder, preferring loamy, well-drained, fertile soil. However, broccoli is not fussy and grows just fine in sandy or clay soils enriched to enhance fertility. Other members of the cruciferous plant family Brassica (Brassica oleracea), which includes cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts, compete for the same nutrients as broccoli. Planting them together with broccoli results in nutritional deficiencies in the soil.

Competing members of the Brassica family will fight to the death for nutrients. Unless continually supplemented with well-aged herbivore manures (e.g. sheep, goat, cow, or horse), few soils contain enough essential nutrients to grow broccoli alongside other members of the Brassica plant family.

Pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, watermelon, strawberries, pole beans, lima beans, snap beans and asparagus are also heavy feeders, requiring nutrient-rich soil: calcium specifically is in high demand. Avoid planting broccoli next to these garden staples, which compete for the same nutrients as broccoli. Grapes and mustard plants, when planted next to broccoli, also negatively impact the growth of the broccoli plant.

Broccoli fails to flourish when planted near members of the nightshade family, like tomatoes, hot peppers, and eggplant.

Preparing The Soil For Broccoli

Broccoli grows best in a full-sun, although it will do well in partial shade. Choose a well-drained location with fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0, a pH level that discourages clubfoot disease.

Testing kits for soil pH levels are available online or from local home and garden stores, or you may take a soil sample to your local county extension office for testing. Amend soil as recommended. When soil is low in boron, broccoli can develop hollow stems. Amend if the soil test indicates a deficiency in the mineral.

Because broccoli is such a heavy feeder, growth and flavor are enhanced when soil is supplemented with a generous amount of nitrogen-rich manure, cottonseed meal, or garden compost. Before planting broccoli seedling, break up the soil to a depth of at least one foot, removing rocks, roots, weeds, and debris. Work in manure and add a substantial amount of peat moss to help conserve moisture.

Tips For Growing Broccoli

Available in a diverse array of colors including white, green and purple, broccoli is easy to grow with minimal attention. My favorite broccoli varieties include Arcadia, Captain, Di Cicco, Emerald Pride, Everest, Gypsy, Packman, and Windsor.

  • Plant in seed trays indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Sow seed at a depth of about 1/8 inch in a mixture of one part potting soil, one part peat moss, and one part garden sand. Keep potting soil uniformly moist, but not soggy. If allowed to dry out, seedlings will bolt and become inedible.
  • Broccoli seeds need lots of light for best germination. Place potting trays in a bright and sunny location or provide supplement lighting.
  • If the seed is sown outdoors, broccoli can germinate in cool soil temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above. For spring planting, experience gardeners suggest seeding or setting transplants three weeks before the last frost date. For a winter crop, seed or set transplants in late summer.
  • In about six weeks, when seedlings are sturdy enough to transplant, transfer to the garden, planting broccoli plants approximately 18 inches apart. Space rows 18-24 inches apart.
  • Mulch broccoli plants with a four inch layer of straw or dried grass clippings or ground leaves to conserve moisture. Broccoli demands consistent moisture to produce solid, flavorful heads.
  • Keep a watchful eye out for white cabbage butterflies and promptly remove eggs and caterpillars.
  • Once established, broccoli requires 1.5-2 inches of water per week: supplement if rainfall is inadequate
  • Disease problems you might encounter when growing broccoli include clubfoot, black leg and black rot. Consult with the experts at your local county extension office for more information on organic pest management.

For optimum growth and flavor, broccoli requires a large amount of calcium. Successful broccoli growers suggest supplementing soil with regular applications of bone meal or other calcium-rich organic garden supplements, so that the soil contains plenty of calcium throughout the growing season. Apply approximately one pound of blood meal when seedlings are 8-10 inches tall and again every 3-4 weeks as the growing season progresses.

Broccoli has some frost tolerance and grows well in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 9. Being a cool-season vegetable, broccoli matures in less than eight weeks. Broccoli grows best at temperatures from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Squash seedlings on the left, broccoli seedlings on the right. anjanettew / Flickr (Creative Commons)

When grown as a spring crop, it can be harvested, and vegetation cleared to make room for a fall crop. In zones 7 through 9, broccoli is cultivated as a winter crop. Broccoli does not do well when temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

During mid to late summer, it is difficult to grow quality broccoli, due to the adverse effects of low soil moisture together with higher soil temperatures. If you wish to try to grow broccoli in the summer, access to irrigation is essential.

Harvesting Broccoli

When tiny flower heads are beginning to form at the center of the plant, watch the growth daily. Harvest when buds are tightly closed. If allowed to develop yellow flower petals, the buds swell and have a mealy texture and diminished flavor.

To harvest, cut flower heads with a sharp knife. To reap a second harvest, allow the plant to continue to grow after the first cutting of the main flower head. Additional shoots or smaller flower heads will develop at the axis of the leaves. Many gardeners report the second harvest of small immature flower heads is sweeter and florets more tender than the first cutting.

Broccoli is at its peak when consumed fresh from the garden. For short-term storage (3-5 days), mist unwashed heads and wrap in a damp paper towel for storage in the refrigerator crisper.

When ready to use, wash broccoli in warm water in a large bowl to which you have added a quarter cup of white vinegar. Soak for 10-15 minutes to remove soil and debris and to kill any insect pests that may be hidden in the tightly packed florets. Remove, rinse with cold water, and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.

Broccoli nearly ready for harvest. Linda N. / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Do not store broccoli in a plastic bag or sealed container. Broccoli requires fresh air to retain flavor and texture. Stored improperly, broccoli can go from crisp and flavorful to limp and bland in just a day or two.

Broccoli can be frozen, canned or dehydrated for winter storage.

Broccoli Production, Penn State Extension Service

Gardening Solutions, University Of Florida

Broccoli, National Gardening Association

Growing Broccoli, A Gardener’s Perfect Guide

February 28, 2017 14 Comments

Unlike some vegetables, broccoli is well-known for its amazing temperature endurance. Its ability to withstand extreme temperature swings makes it ideal for almost any garden. Broccoli germinates well during the cool, moist periods of the year, making it a perfect springtime crop. Whether a first-time gardener or an old pro, consider these helpful tips and tricks for creating the perfect broccoli crop.

Broccoli Basics

This hearty vegetable belongs to the “cole crop” family (Brassica oleracea) which includes other leafy greens such as kale, collards, cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Most gardeners successful harvest two broccoli crops per year during both Spring and Fall. Because of its unique heat tolerance, broccoli is a successful crop in many parts of the country regardless of climate.

Although there are three specific broccoli types, one of the most common varieties is the “Calabrese broccoli,” often abbreviated to simply “broccoli.” This variety originated in Italy and arrived in the States via immigrants in the 1900’s. It grows in a beautiful bluish-green hue with fast-growing side-shoots. It reaches a height of about 30″-36″ inches with a 5″ diameter at the crown. This tough broccoli variety grows well for Fall harvests.

Other great varieties include the “Green Goliath,” “Green Duke,” and the “Flash.” All three are very heat-resistant and do well in warm to moderate climates for Fall harvests.

Sowing The Seed

Broccoli germinates well in cool, moist soil. It’s best to plant your seeds about 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost. The timing may be somewhat tricky to judge; consider asking other gardeners with seasonal experience. If you choose to plant a Fall crop, aim to plant your seeds about 85-100 days before the first Fall frost. This timing usually falls around mid-to-late summer.

Broccoli seems to grow best by germinating the seedlings in an indoor planter or within the shelter of a greenhouse. If you’re concerned about your plants freezing, opt for this fail-proof method. After the seedlings sprout, transplant them into your garden at about 3-4 weeks old.

If planting in your garden directly, place your seeds about 1/2 inch deep 12 to 24 inches apart. If you wish to plant multiple rows, always space the rows at least 36 inches apart to avoid overcrowding.

Freshly harvested Broccoli seeds can be seen above. The seeds resemble small little pebbles and measure 1/8″ in diameter.

Soil Preferences and Nutrition

Broccoli thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6-7. This acidity helps prevent some types of soil diseases such as “clubroot.” Test your soil before planting to ensure it contains the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Depending on the reading, balance the soil levels with lime or a cottonseed meal fertilizer.

Liquid fertilizer or “plant food” is very effective for maintain plant nutrition and soil quality. Depending on your brand, follow the directions for regular feedings. A consistent fertilizing schedule keeps the soil rich and healthy for your plants.

Hydration Needs

Broccoli requires a consistently moist environment. If you live at a higher elevation with drier soil, always insulate your soil with high-quality mulch or compost to help preserve the moisture and prevent your seeds from drying out. This is critical if you live in a warmer climate.

However, the opposite is true if your average planting temperate is too cold. For more extreme temperatures, insulate your garden with black plastic or garbage backs to lock in a stable temperature and prevent your moisture from being stolen.

Water your seeds weekly with about 1 to 1/5 inches of water total per plant. Always take rain into account and avoid over-watering. If you’re concerned about accidentally over-watering your plants, use a garden rain gauge to measure rainfall.

Lighting and Temperature

Although broccoli naturally copes with colder temperatures, it still needs a steady source of warm, nourishing light. Each plant needs about 6 hours of moderate sunlight. Soil temperature should remain at about 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid too much harsh, direct sunlight, however. Too much will sap the moisture from your soil and burn new seedlings.

Always avoid getting any water on the developing broccoli crowns. Water is reflective; droplets on the crown amplify sunlight and easily result in heat burns.

Known Pests and Diseases

Every plant has its share of garden pests and potential diseases. These frustrating hazards can cripple even the heartiest of plants and steal entire crops. However, with a close eye and early intervention you can successfully avoid and combat each pest and disease. Some common garden hazards include:

  • Flea Beetles (Treat with talcum powder dusting or a homemade anti-beetle spray).
  • Aphids (Treat with a diluted soapy water solution).
  • Downy Mildew (Avoid by preventing too much extra moisture around your plants).
  • Cabbage Loopers and Cabbageworm (Remove by hand and invest in a floating row cover).
  • Cabbage Root Maggots (Regularly check the soil for eggs and maggots and invest in “cabbage collars” or similar devices).
  • Whiteflies (Deter with a soapy water solution or diluted dishwashing soap).
  • Clubroot (Carefully monitor your soil acidity and use soil supplements or fertilizer to keep it in a healthy range).
  • Rodents and woodchucks (Sprinkle blood meal, ground black pepper, and dried blood around the base of your plants. The smell frightens them and deters them from munching on your plants).

The most exciting part of gardening is the harvest season. After all your care and investment, harvesting allows you to enjoy the benefits. However, proper harvesting and storage techniques are critical for fully enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Broccoli is ready to harvest when the buds of the crown are tight and firm. Harvest before the crowns begin to flower! Tiny yellow flowers on the crown are a sign that you’re harvesting too late.

If using the transplanted seedling method, your broccoli will be fully grown at about 55-85 days. Seedling grown directly in your garden take a bit longer at 70-100 days.

Cut the broccoli from the plant with at least 6 inches of its stem intact. Cut at a slant around 5 to 8 inches from the crown.

If you choose to leave the side-shoots intact you can continue harvesting for several more weeks as the shoots grow and mature.

Clean and dry your broccoli and store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days after harvesting. For longer storage, blanch and freeze your broccoli for storage up to a year.

Broccoli is a great staple for a variety of diets and tasty recipes. This hearty plant is perfect for beginning gardeners. This season, exercise your green thumb and invest in your own broccoli. There’s nothing more rewarding than producing your own home-grown vegetables.

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