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How to Sow Broccoli Seed

Broccoli from Seed - Site and Soil

Broccoli is not too choosy about the site and soil. It prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.  A light soil can be improved by the addition of nutrients provided by a a general fertiliser and bonemeal. Adding bonemeal to a heavier soil which is not too rich in nutrients will also be of benefit.

As with all vegetables avoid low lying areas which may become water-logged. This is especially important for broccoli varieties which will stay in the ground over winter. Do not plant broccoli on a site which has been used for brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip, kohlrabi) in the last two years because this will increase the chances of getting club root and cabbage root fly.

Broccoli from Seed - How, when and where

The time of sowing broccoli with no protection depends on the variety, so read the seed-packet instructions carefully. The following are the general rule:

Calabrese (green broccoli) - sow outside in early May, under cover three weeks earlier.
Early Purple and White varieties - sow in mid-April.
Late Purple and White varieties - sow in mid-May.

Sow the seed about 7cm (3in) apart in lines which are 60cm (2 foot) apart. Cover the seeds with 1.5cm (half inch) of crumbly soil and water well.  The seeds should germinate in 10 days or so. When the seedlings appear, thin them to 22cm (9 in) apart.

Calabrese does not transplant well at all, so do not grow them in a seed bed and transplant. If they cannot be grown in-situ, grow them individually in pots and plant them with the least possible disturbance of the root system. Broccoli, on the other hand transplants well and can be grown in a seed bed and transplanted to their final growing position.

If you want broccoli or calabrese crops three or four weeks earlier, use a small poly-tunnel or cloche. Simply place the poly-tunnel in position two weeks before sowing (to warm up the soil), then sow the seed three or four weeks earlier than normal. Click here to buy a poly-tunnel or cloche from GardenAction's preferred online supplier.

Broccoli form Seed - Ongoing Care

Calabrese and broccoli are easy to care for. When the seedlings have six or so leaves, give them a handful of Growmore per square yard. water it in well if rain is not likely in 24 hours.

In dry weather, keep them well-watered, especially if the soil is sandy. Watering is especially important when the heads are forming. A layer of garden compost around the plants (not touching them though) will work wonders. Aside from this, and keeping the weeds at bay, they will look after themselves. 

Where you have no garden compost, covering the surrounding soil with a weed control fabric will do exactly the same job and will last for many years. Click here to buy your weed control fabric online.

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Name: garth grainger
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 19, 2011 - 03:11 pm
Message: Is it too late to plant Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants? And can you get them?

Name: Jo-Ena Bennett
Date posted: May 19, 2011 - 09:28 pm
Message: I think that broccoli started growing rootsin my compost bin. Atleast I THINK it's broccoli. I put stems in the bin for composting and this spring I saw roots on the stems. I've put the rooted stems in planters with drainage material, potting soil and vegetable plant food. Yellow flowers are appearing. Now what do I do? Thanks!

Name: karen echasseriau
Date posted: January 24, 2011 - 03:49 pm
Message: mulching truly worked wonders with my broccoli