I have broccoli seedlings which I started 2/15. They have been hardening off for about a week, but still look rather weak. They're about 2 1/2-3" tall and have 4-6 leaves. They'll be going in a raised bed. I am in Zone 6b. Any advice?
First make holes where they are to go. Fill each hole with water and let it drain. Add fertilizer to the holes and stir it in really, really well.
Lift your seedlings with a trowel, taking as much as the soil they are in as you can. Carefully place each plant in a hole, and pull up soil around the stems. It's okay to set them a little deeper than they originally grew.
Each broccoli should be at least 18" inches (preferably 24") from it's neighbor as they grow really big when they are well fed.
Once they are established, feed them every two weeks.
When the main head is large enough, cut it, but leave a stem with some leaves. You will get lots of side shoots with "florets"
You'll soon have more broccoli than you know what to do with!
What do you do with your broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower cuttings at the end of your growing season? I have this humongous smelly pile of bagged broccoli cuttings in the side yard of my house (thank God you can only smell it if you're over there!!!). I intended to use them in the compost pile, but I had NO IDEA how putrid a smell they can give off. Extremely odiferous!!
I spent all day Saturday drilling holes in three trash cans to make composting bins in that side yard. I layered some bagged leaves, and some of the broccoli cuttings in two of the cans. The Third can will remain empty so I can dump can #2 into can #3, then can #1 into can #2, then reverse the process so it's all mixed and aerated. I figured this was easier than rolling them all over the yard. I'll just use the pitchfork.
Please LMK if it's worth it to continue saving the cuttings for the compost bin. I figured it was the lack of air that was causing them to smell. Once they're in the bins and well aerated, maybe they won't smell so rank?
Thanks for the advice everyone! Linda, I thought you'd answer for sure. . .you & I both did Arcadia Broccoli. I guess you agree with everyone else-? Broccoli is ranking'. If I put even a little piece in the crock to take out to the compost bin, my husband smells it. Luckily, the compost pile is way out in back of the house.
No, I don't agree with everyone! But, they seemed so definitive, I started doubting my instincts, and backed off. But, I hear my Mother's voice in the background, saying, "to thine OWN self be true...". So, here's my take on things. And, hugs to you in advance, Sweetie, for considering my opinion worthy.
IF IT WERE ME (disclaimer), I'd say, "these wee seedlings look like they could stand a bit more beefing up before I send 'em out into the big bad garden."
In my observations of the cold weather brassicas, they have a mind of their own, and they do what they want, when they want to, quite contrary to other plants like tomatoes. Subsequently, they have to be treated according to their own character.
Tomatoes are go-getters and wanna be somewhere else once they have 4 true leaves. Broccoli are just plain LAZY!! Really! I actually walked thru my bucket garden, spied the Broccoli just sitting there doing absolutely nothing, and I said "You all are just plain LAZY plants!!"
And, broccoli absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cooler temps, both night and daytime. Steady temps between 45-55 degrees and they are in "smelly" heaven! (Hey, I like that. From now on, I'm referring to the brassicas as "smellies!". Remember, you heard it here first, folks!)
So, Peggy, Linda would keep 'em under lights til they look stronger- maybe 8 leaves. They'll be fine in the transplanting. Besides that, putting 'em out so small in my pillbug-infested yard would be certain death. They'd stand a far better chance going out bigger and stronger.
And they do appreciate some organics in the soil, so add a bit of compost if you can. They are Lazy, water-hogging, HUNGRY HIPPOS, that will try your patience, but reward you in the end with those prized big heads and prolific (Arcadia) side shoots.
Thank you, Linda. . . they're outside on a table enjoying the beautiful weather. I'm getting tired of moving them undercover everytime hail is predicted, but oh well, that's the life of a "farmer" I guess!! They're my smelly little broccoli babies, and I must take care of them!
If they're still smallish when you plant them, I'd sprinkle some Sluggo Plus around your plant bed perimeter. It's a bit $$ ($25 for the big cannister), but it only takes a little to do the job, so you'll have it a good long time. The stuff works fast, and lasts through a couple rains. Do it before you plant them out, and there'll be no nibbling of your babies!