Spring is The Best Time to Grow Broccoli in Your New England Garden!
Much like onions, we once thought it was a waste of garden space growing broccoli when it was plentiful and inexpensive in the grocery store year-round. Once again, we were wrong.
Broccoli Grown in Your Garden Tastes Much Better than Store-Bought Broccoli
All we have to say is, "Wow, what a difference in flavor!" The broccoli grown fresh is much firmer, lasts longer in the refrigerator and really has a fresh flavor that tastes incredible.
Broccoli Will Grow Anywhere in New England Gardens
Whether you live in northern Maine or south coastal New England, broccoli is an easy-to-grow vegetable anywhere in New England because it likes to grow in cool, sunny weather. In New England, that means mid-March through mid-June or a fall crop planted in August for October harvesting.
Give Broccoli a Head Start
Because the weather can warm up quite rapidly here in New England as Spring progresses, we like to start our broccoli in pots about 3 weeks before we set them out in the garden. Daytime highs should at least be in the 40's and nighttime temps can dip below freezing without harming the plants. If the nightttime temperatures are colder than about 25, its best to wait a week or two before putting the plants out in the garden. If you are planting a fall crop, you can seed them directly in the soil in early August.
Broccoli Loves Sunshine and Cool Temperatures
Broccoli will grow quite rapidly under sunny skies and cool temperatures. As long as the plants have cool, moist conditions with lots of sun, they are really easy to grow and will reward you with large heads of broccoli in about 60-80 days. If the temperatures get too warm, however, they may "bolt", or mature too rapidly, and the heads of broccoli (which are actually thousands of flowers)will open up and your broccoli will be a huge clump of yellow flowers. Not very good eats.
How Do I Know When To Harvest My Broccoli?
Most broccoli will have one main stalk with a head of broccoli at the top. Along the stalk, secondary smaller heads of broccoli will form as well. Both are equally delicious and a plant can supply your home with broccoli for a few weeks before its time to pull the plants. You can harvest them anytime you want during development, just be sure not to let them stay on the plant too long, or you will have yellow flowers instead of broccoli on your dinner table. Also don't forget that the entire stem of the plant is great for soups and stews. Just use a vegetable peeler to peel off the tough outer skin of the stem and cut into smaller pieces. Nothing better in a cream of broccoli soup!