I’m happy to report that this year’s crop of fall-grown broccoli is looking very, very good!
Yes, I’m actually welcoming in the month of December by harvesting an impressive crop of large heads of nutritious broccoli fresh from the fall vegetable garden.
Perfect Season for Growing Broccoli
This autumn season was ideal for growing terrific broccoli. There were warm days, cool nights, and plenty of rainfall to encourage the plants rapid growth. If you’re accustomed to growing broccoli strictly as a spring crop, next year give it a try in the fall also. You may discover that it grows even better in your garden as a fall vegetable crop.
Broccoli is very frost tolerant and loves to grow in cooler weather such as during the spring and fall months. It not only grows extremely well during autumn, but I also think that it is better tasting when grown under cooler weather conditions.
Your biggest challenge to growing broccoli during the fall may be in finding transplants to set out at the proper time for your area. If you can’t locate transplants at your local greenhouse during late summer the only alternative is to sow seeds indoors in early summer to raise your own broccoli transplants.
This year I started some seedlings indoors at the start of August and purchased others from a garden center and planted them out into the garden during late August and early September. The broccoli transplants were spaced about eighteen inches apart in each direction and they filled in the raised beds nicely with just the right amount of growing room.
Advantages of Fall-Grown Broccoli
With the relatively mild fall that we’ve been enjoying here in Zone 6 the broccoli plants have had plenty of time to mature and form huge heads of fresh green broccoli.
The only insect pest that was in evidence this late in the season were a few cabbage worms that chewed through the leaves but didn’t venture anywhere near the broccoli florets.
The plants and broccoli buds grow slower during autumn but that’s actually an advantage when it comes time to harvest the maturing heads. Where spring grown broccoli florets have to be watched closely and harvested rather quickly while in their prime in order to avoid over mature or blossoming buds, fall grown broccoli is much more forgiving.
Harvesting Fall Broccoli Florets
In fact, fall broccoli florets can be left on the plants for extended periods even after they reach mature sizes without much worry of the buds opening suddenly or of any loss in flavor or quality. The florets will remain tight and closed until you are ready to harvest and use them in the kitchen.
On the down side, once you’ve harvested your initial crop of fall-grown broccoli that’s the end of the story. There’s little chance of fall broccoli developing side shoots and producing additional florets after harvesting the main shoot like you sometimes get with spring grown broccoli plants.
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