Broccoli is a cool season vegetable which belongs to the Brassica family. It can be a prolific producer in your Perth veggie garden as one plant will yield several heads. As a relatively quick growing crop, it is also possible to get two crops in one season.
A common side dish, cold or hot, broccoli is a green edible plant in the cabbage family. It is popular in a wide range of cooking styles including asian dishes like stir fries, or served with cheese sauce alongside a traditional roast dinner.
Broccoli has large flower heads arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick stalk. It is particularly rich in vitamin C and vitamin K. There are many different types of broccoli popular for growing in Perth. Some of our favourites are purple sprouting, di cicco, romanesco and broccoletti.
When to Plant
Plant seeds in either Autumn or early Spring. Germination can begin at temperatures as low as 4° C. If you live in a warmer climate like Perth, broccoli will do best if planted in Autumn. Sow seeds in early March and again in late May to achieve a close succession crop. If you think that your soil will be too warm, a layer of mulch will help ensure cooler soil temperatures.
Where to Plant
Broccoli needs full sun and moist soil - slightly acidic soil is preferable. It is a very hungry plant and enjoys a rich, deep soil - add compostand chicken manure for great results. Seeds can be sown direct or in trays such as our unique wooden seedling flats made by the Vic Park Mens Shed.
How to Plant
Plant the seeds 3mm deep in fertile soil or seed raising mix. If planting in rows, plant with rows 30cm apart.
Caring for Broccoli
Keep plants watered, but take care to not get the developing broccoli heads wet whilst watering. Use a liquid plant feed fortnightly to encourage healthy growth.
Broccoli is vulnerable to caterpillar attack and there are a number of strategies for keeping these and other pests at bay. Exclusion nettingis probably the most effective way to keep pests away. Simply picking off pests and eggs, or blasting with a high pressure hosecan also help with pest control.
Many gardeners believe that butterflies and moths are territorial, and therefore use cabbage moth decoys to trick the pests into believing there is already a butterfly in residence and therefore to stay away.
Eco-oil is a registered organic miticide and insecticide which can be used to control a range of problem insects including scale, aphids, two-spotted mite and whitefly.
How to Harvest
Harvest your broccoli when you see that the buds of the head are firm. Cut the stalk of the main head at a slant, and smaller side shoots will grow up from where you’ve cut. Make sure to harvest your broccoli before the yellow flower petals start to show – those parts have a mealy texture.
If you have an abundant harvest which you cannot eat all at once, broccoli can be blanched and frozen for using later.
Broccoli is also popular as a microgreen - grown indoors in a tray or pot. Microgreens are the young shoots of germinated seeds - essentially baby plants. Incredibly nutrient dense and low in calories, broccoli microgreens make a delicious addition to a salad, sandwich, smoothie or other meal.