On this article you are going to learn the basics of planting, growing, and harvesting broccoli in containers.
Requirements to grow Broccoli in Containers
Containers size: A container size of at least 3 gallons is needed to grow every broccoli plant. This plant is actually a large and heavy feeding vegetable crop.
A Potting soil high in nutrition: Broccoli plants are heavy feeder and they need a potting soil that is high in nutrition. An organic potting soil that has been amended with a good amount of nutritious compost is the best option. Apart from nutrition, the plant also prefers the soil to be light, well aerated and also have a good drainage properties.
Fertilizer application: The application of fertilizer is not too important. If you started off with a premium potting soil you can fertilize the broccoli plants once or twice during their life cycle. You can use an all-purpose organic fertilizer with the addition of micro-nutrients like magnesium and boron.
Sunlight location: Like I said earlier broccoli is a larger and fast-growing vegetable crop, the plant needs for direct sunlight is a little less than many other similar sized plants. Broccoli plant is shade tolerant to a certain degree. The plant will thrive with a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis.
Temperature requirement: Broccoli plants tend to bolt (flower) when the temperatures rise above seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. When the plant bolts, there is no harvestable produce to be had. If you want to keep your broccoli plants producing, grow them only in the cooler temperatures of autumn and spring.
How to Grow Broccoli from Seed
Broccoli can be grown from seed. Growing broccoli from seed allows you to have more control over the variety grown, the germination conditions, as well as the planting and the transplanting dates. The following are the steps on how to grow broccoli from seed:
Choosing a Fast-Maturing Broccoli Plant Varieties
To maintain an efficient container garden you have to select a fast maturing broccoli plant variety. By selecting speedy varieties like Waltham #29 or Atlantic, De Cicco, you will be able to harvest full size broccoli heads in as little as fifty to sixty-five days from sprouting. Quick growing cycles like these will really help to free up your containers for subsequent plantings.
Planting Broccoli from Seed
You can start planting your broccoli seeds indoors, four to seven weeks before your area’s average last frost. Grow the seedlings indoors for only a short period of time, and then transplant them to an outdoor container, two to three weeks before the average last frost.
Fill the seedling cups with potting soil. Plant 2 broccoli seeds per container at a depth of about 1/4-1/2 inch deep and then cover them and water thoroughly. Make sure you place them in a warm area and also keep the soil moist, but not drenched.
The broccoli seeds should germinate within five to ten days. At this point you have to move the new seedlings to a well-lit area. South facing windowsills or artificial grow lighting is the best option. If the both seeds in the container have sprouted, you have to thin out the smaller of the two. The reason for planting 2 seeds is to be sure that at least one will sprout.
For the next three to four weeks you have to keep the soil evenly moist and also provide plenty of light for the seedlings.
Transplanting and Hardening Off
Once the seedlings have reached an age of about three to four weeks they will need to be moved to their final container and their new outdoor home. The transplanting can be done in a minutes, while the transition from indoors to outdoor takes a bit more time. This transition can better be described as the process of hardening off, which is essentially the practice of acclimating the broccoli plants to the outdoor environment.
Broccoli Transplant and Harden Off
You can easily transplant each broccoli plant from its seedling cup to their final 3 gallon containers.
You can start 3 weeks before your average last frost, and also begin to harden off the broccoli plants. Start by taking your broccoli plants outside for an hour, then each following day increase the amount of time your broccoli plants spend outside.
Within the periods of two weeks your broccoli plants should be fully acclimated and be spending their whole day outside. At this point the broccoli plants should only be brought indoors if the temperature is expected to drop below freezing.
Broccoli Plant Care
Once the plants are positioned in their outdoor containers, you don’t actually have much to do except water. Just follow these basic measures and you will have broccoli crowns in no time:
Water Requirement: The maturing broccoli plants also prefer soils that are thoroughly moist. Be very careful not to over water the plants as root problems and rot can easily set in. A larger container does a better job of retaining moisture.
Fertilizer Requirement: Actually fertilizing is really not too necessary if you started with a nutritious potting soil. If you do feel the need to fertilize you can apply a single application 1 week after transplanting the broccoli plant to their final containers. This will boost the plant root production and also give the broccoli plant a jump start on producing crowns.
Under normal condition your broccoli plants should be ready to harvest in fifty to seventy days from seed. This means that you will have harvestable broccoli in three to four weeks after transplanting the seedlings outdoors! You can easily harvest the broccoli multiple times before the summer heat causes it to flower. Click here to buy Broccoli seeds