One is always on the lookout for some common vegetables, which can be grown indoors. Growing broccoli in containers needs some patience, and also knowledge of its basic requirements.
Broccoli, in Italian, means cabbage's flowering top. It comes from the cabbage family, and is shaped like a cauliflower, except for the fact that it is green in color. It can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, microwaved, or stir-fried.
Being rich in vitamins like A, C, and K, it is also an excellent source of dietary fiber. It also contains nutrients that fight against cancer. It is healthier to eat it raw, as boiling reduces the nutritional values. Let us look at the requirements for growing broccoli, and the procedure involved.
While broccoli can withstand temperatures in the range of 80º-20º F, the optimum temperature for indoor gardening of this vegetable is between 50º-70º F. The growth period being 50-80 days, it is advisable to plant its seedling 2 months before the start of rains.
Use a soil mixed with a generous amount of compost, and ensure that the soil is well-drained. You can add perlite to the soil, so as to increase its drainage.
The containers, used for planting broccoli, should be 8-10 inches deep. Sometimes they may become very hot due to direct sunlight. At such times, keep them in a shady area.
Clay pots could also be used, as they will help in maintaining a lower temperature.
Here are the stepwise instructions for growing broccoli inside containers.
Select healthy seeds, and plant them indoors in pots at a ½ inch depth. Keep them in a place where they don't get direct sunlight.
Wait till they grow into 3 inch sprouts, and then, shift the containers outdoors.
Expose them to sunlight for 3 hours in the morning, and then move them back indoors. Keep doing this for at least 2 weeks.
After this period, start repotting them into bigger pots or tubs. Make sure the containers remain cool, and have drainage holes at the bottom. Fill them with the soil mix. Transfer the growing broccoli sprouts carefully into the new big containers, keeping a distance of at least 18 inches between each sprout.
Water it regularly to maintain the moistness of the soil. Keep the pots at a distance of 25 inches from each other.
Keep checking the plants for any infestation by pests like cutworms or cabbage worms. Get rid of these immediately, if you notice them.
Once the flower heads mature to their full size, harvest them.
Useful Tips for Growing Broccoli
Now, you know the procedure of growing broccoli in containers, use the following tips for additional care.
Wait till the flower heads fully mature, and harvest them only after that. The average mature size of a broccoli head is around 4-6 inches.
If you like to eat broccoli sprouts, separate some sprouts before repotting them.
Sometimes, yellow flowers appear before the flower heads can be harvested. This happens if the broccoli is not planted in the right season, so make sure you always plant it at the right time.
It can also be planted with beets, onions, potatoes, and other herbs. However, avoid planting it with tomatoes, green beans, or strawberries.
You can store and preserve broccoli in the refrigerator for a week. This will allow you to eat this nutritious vegetable whenever you want. You may also try your hand at growing other herbs and vegetables, which are suitable for container gardening.