Intro: Broccoli is an easy cool-season crop to care for in kitchen gardens in balcony container gardens. The large flower heads are eaten raw, steamed or boiled. It is closely related to cauliflower, which is another cultivar of the Brassica oleracea species. It can get quite tall – up to 3 feet tall.
Scientific Name: A cultivar of Brassica oleracea
Plant Type: Annual vegetable
Light: Full sun to light shade
Zone: Zone 3 and above during cooler weather. This cool-weather crop does best between 64 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fertilizer: Broccoli plants are heavy feeders, so use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer at full strength every two weeks.
Pests and Diseases: When caring for your broccoli plants, you may find that cutworms are often a problem. To deter cutworms, place a wax paper or plastic collar around the heads. Also look out for caterpillars (such as cabbage looper caterpillars), armyworms, aphids, cabbage root maggots, mildew, rot and other types of fungus. To reduce the risk of disease, do not plant broccoli in potting soil that was used for broccoli or other similar plants for three years.
Propagation: Propagate the broccoli plant with seeds. Before planting your broccoli seeds, prepare soil with compost. Sow seeds directly outdoors a month or so before the last expected frost. You can also start them earlier indoors. Once two true leaves have formed, thin out your seedlings. Seedlings should be at least 18 inches apart, so either keep one seedling to a plant container or use a very large container for your broccoli planting.
Misc. Info: Harvest your broccoli before the flowers turn a bright yellow (this means the flower buds have opened. Cut the head with sharp garden pruners.
Broccoli plants have a lot of vitamin C, dietary fiber and carotenoids, and it also possibly helps prevent cancer because of a substance it produces called sulforaphane.