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When growing broccoli, it is important to have soil that is very fertile and not too acidic or basic. A gardener should plant broccoli when the weather is cool for best results. Many gardeners have more success with transplants. The plants do best in the ground rather than in containers, as they need plenty of room to grow. Growing broccoli successfully means that a garden needs plenty of sun.
While it is possible to grow broccoli from seed, gardeners may have more luck growing broccoli from transplanted seedlings. If a person does choose to grow broccoli from seed, she should start the seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost in her area. Using transplants cuts down on the length of time a gardener needs to wait before being able to harvest the broccoli.
Broccoli is a hungry plant. For lush growth, a gardener should mix a bit of compost into the soil when planting it. Nitrogen is especially important for the plant. After a few weeks, she should add a nitrogen fertilizer, such as alfalfa, to the soil. Growing broccoli also needs plenty of water to thrive, so the gardener should water the vegetable regularly so that the soil is moist but not drenched.
A spot in the garden that gets full sunlight, at least six hours a day, is ideal for growing broccoli. The soil in the garden should be neutral, with a pH around 7. Broccoli plants need plenty of space and should be planted at least 18 inches (46 cm) apart. The plant can grow in a large container, but the yield will most likely be reduced.
Hot weather, with temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius), causes broccoli stalks to bolt, or produce flowers prematurely. The heads of broccoli are made up of flower buds that have yet to open and should be harvested before the flowers bloom.
Broccoli can be planted twice a year, once in the spring, a few weeks before the last frost, and again in the middle of summer, three months before the first frost in an area. As the plant is hardy, it can tolerate a light frost. If the plants are exposed to cold temperatures too early or too frequently, they will produce "buttons," which are tiny heads. Poor growth can also occur if the plants do not get enough nitrogen fertilizer or if they experience drought or other dry conditions.