One of the healthiest vegetables to eat, broccoli can also be grown in the garden. Its tree-like appearance is actually rather cute as it sprouts up. Once you plant broccoli, find out when is the perfect time to harvest it for your enjoyment.
Full of amazing vitamins and minerals, broccoli is a wonderful addition to your garden. As it is a cool-season vegetable, you may have to alter your planting season to accommodate your climate. Broccoli can be planted twice a year, meaning it is ready for harvest twice a year. This will either be late spring/ early summer or late fall.
When to harvest broccoli? Broccoli takes about 55 to 85 days for it to be ready. Once it is you will need to look for important signs for harvesting. If you leave broccoli too long it will turn to flowers, then seeds, and become inedible. Monitor your broccoli for signs the inner crown is growing. It will eventually turn a dark green and have a tight bunch of buds. It’s important to harvest your broccoli at this state before the buds open.
Gently cut the main head off but leave the rest of the plant. After the removal of the crown, side stems will start to produce more broccoli crowns. If you’re impatient you can actually eat the leaves of broccoli plants.
Just harvest them when they are young before they become too bitter. Once harvested you can eat your broccoli right away, keep it in the fridge for a few days, or store it in your freezer for a later date.
How many times can you harvest broccoli?
Broccoli is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. While broccoli has a main part, the head, once this is harvested, side shoots will grow their own heads.
While not all varieties have this ability, most do, and you should always look for this capability when deciding on what seeds to plant.
Different plants will produce different amounts of harvestable heads, so it’s hard to know how much broccoli you will actually get. However, the harvest season is either from April to June to or October to November, depending on when you plant your seeds.
If you want, and if you have the right climate you can plant broccoli twice in one year. This leads to double the harvest time, which is perfect for broccoli-lovers.
What month do you harvest broccoli?
Broccoli seeds can be planted twice a year, either in the late winter/ early spring or later summer/ early fall. Because broccoli is a cool-season crop, it won’t be able to survive harsh hot summers but will be able to survive colder winters.
If you plant in the late winter/ early spring, broccoli will be ready for harvest between February to April. If you plant in late summer/ fall, broccoli will be ready in October to November.
Basically, broccoli is ready between 55 and 85 days after you plant the seeds, depending on the variety. It will then stay ready for up to a month as offshoots continue to grow.
If the harvest dates seem a bit vague it’s because broccoli is so weather and climate-dependant. Too hot and it won’t grow. Too cold and while it should survive, it also might not. It’s best to consult other local gardeners to find the best planting and harvesting times in your region.
How do you know when your broccoli is ready to harvest?
Unfortunately, it will probably take a season or two to become intuitive enough to know when your broccoli is ready to harvest. It’s all about timing but after you understand the signs, it will get easier.
The first important sign to look for is the development of the main crowd. Inside your broccoli plant you will see the crown starting to take shape.
When you notice this happening, start checking your plant daily. Broccoli can be ready quite quickly and you don’t want to wait too long.
The key is cutting off this broccoli head before the buds start to open. Once they do, the taste will alter drastically.
Another sign is the large, leafy green leaves that surround your broccoli head. They should be so large you almost can’t see the crown. If you’re worried about missing out on the development of the inside crown, simply shift the leaves a bit for a better view.
Finally, you will know your broccoli is ready when the crown is a deep green color. The flower clusters of the head will be very dense and tightly grouped.
Try to wait until the broccoli crowns are 4 to 7 inches in diameter. However, if there is a heat spell and the flowers are starting to open, it’s better to harvest a smaller crown than to wait too long.
What happens if you don’t harvest broccoli?
If you wait too long or on vacation and miss your window of opportunity, your broccoli will form flowers. These flowers will then turn to seed.
You can harvest these broccoli seeds for next year’s planting so it won’t be a total waste if you forget to harvest your plants.
How to harvest broccoli?
First of all, you should always harvest broccoli in the morning. This is when it is at its freshest and has its highest moisture content, due to the cool temperatures of the night. If broccoli is harvested in the afternoon when it is hot out, it will wilt a lot faster after being picked.
Look for the crown, or head of broccoli. The buds should be firm and tight and the head should not flower yet.
Once you think your broccoli is starting to get ready to harvest, pay attention as timing is critical. Signs of yellow petals means your broccoli will soon taste bitter so harvest those heads right away.
Broccoli that is ready should be cut so you can include both the head and about 6 inches of stem. Use a sharp knife or garden scissors and cut at an angle.
This allows water to slide away from the stalk as pooling water can actually rot the whole plant. If rot sets in, you won’t be able to enjoy any side shoots from your plant.
Should you wash broccoli after harvesting?
While broccoli should be washed before eating it, you should not wash it immediately after harvesting. Too much water in broccoli will lead to rot.
Instead, brush off any dirt that may have settled on your broccoli. If you are not eating your broccoli right away, wrap the stem in a damp piece of paper towel. This will keep its moisture level up but not make it soggy.
Place it in your fridge but don’t cover the plant. If there isn’t enough air circulation it will quickly wilt.
Broccoli will last up to five days in your fridge. However, check on it after a day or two and see if it is still lasting. If not, you should either cook with it immediately or freeze it for later.
Can you eat broccoli immediately after harvesting?
Yes, broccoli is definitely ready to be enjoyed right from the garden. Simply give it a good rinse and enjoy it raw or cooked. If you want to save some broccoli for later, you can place it in the fridge where it will last for up to five days.
For those that have an abundance of broccoli, it is easy to store. First, cut the broccoli up into smaller pieces, although not too small.
Then, take a pot of water and boil it. You want to blanch the broccoli pieces, which involves placing them in boiling water for just one minute.
Remove the broccoli and allow it to dry. Finally, portion your broccoli into freezer-safe airtight containers. Label and date the containers and your broccoli will last for up to one year in the freezer.
Can I eat broccoli leaves?
Most people are only concerned about when their broccoli crowns are ready. In reality, you can actually eat the whole plant.
While the main head is still developing, and hasn’t grown higher than the leaves, you can start harvesting the leaves for eating.
Early, smaller leaves are better as they won’t be as bitter. Once your broccoli crown starts to open, the leaves will be much tougher and not as enjoyable.
Pick the young leaves when they are 4 to 5 inches long. Start with the outer leaves first.
While you may be tempted to pick a bunch of leaves, only pick a few from each plant. Your broccoli still needs them for nourishment and protection and picking too many leaves will damage the broccoli crown.
Broccoli is full of important vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many others. If you can grow it in your garden, it will be that much easier to eat healthy.
Broccoli is ready just before the crown flowers start to open. The beauty of this vegetable is that after you cut the crown off, side sprouts will activate so you will have broccoli available for quite a few weeks.