Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis) is a very nutrient dense food with lots of vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, potassium, and fiber. According to Dr. Heilig with the Michigan Extension Service, homegrown vegetables are higher in vitamins, which start to deteriorate as soon as the vegetable is picked. Because of this, you may be wondering ‘Is growing broccoli worth it?’
Only you can judge whether growing broccoli instead of buying it is worth it to you. Here are the facts you need to make that decision.
Is Growing Broccoli Worth It?
While only you can decide that I think it is worth it. Growing your own broccoli means getting fresh broccoli at the peak of its nutritious life. You can make sure you are not eating poisonous chemicals or contributing to environmental problems. In addition, gardening is fun and good exercise.
Benefits of Growing Your Own Broccoli
There are lots of benefits to growing your own broccoli. Here are just a few.
As soon as a plant is picked, the nutrients in it start to deteriorate. The longer the time between being picked and being eaten, the fewer nutrients remain. Going out to the garden and picking a vegetable right before eating it means you get the absolute maximum of nutrients present in the broccoli. Here is what you get in one cup of broccoli:
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Vitamin C: depends on soil
- Vitamin K: depends on soil
- Iron: depends on soil
- Potassium: depends on soil
- Calories: 31
- Protein: 2.5 grams
- Fat: 0.04 grams
- Carbohydrates: 6 grams
Lower Levels of Pesticides
Commercially grown vegetables are treated with lots of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to maximize yield. While broccoli is washed before being packaged, pesticide residue remains.
When you grow your own broccoli, you don’t need as many pesticides. You can choose what to apply and what to skip. This makes homegrown broccoli significantly less likely to have chemical traces on it.
Lower Carbon Footprint
Trucking broccoli from the field to the grocery store uses a lot of petroleum. Most pesticides and synthetic fertilizers involve petroleum and other chemicals that are hard on the environment. Growing the broccoli at home reduces the amount of carbon it takes to eat it and is better for the environment.
Gardening is fun and is good exercise. There is a lot of pride in growing your own food, too. You just don’t get that when you buy broccoli.
Is It Easy to Grow Broccoli?
Broccoli is considered somewhat difficult to grow. It is a cool season crop that doesn’t tolerate heat well. Once it gets hot, the broccoli will bolt, or send up flower stalks, ruining it. It is harder to grow broccoli in areas that have hot weather, like the south, than it is in the north.
How Much Does It Cost To Grow Broccoli?
The actual cost of growing broccoli varies depending on where you are. The cost of water and fertilizer, and whether you use pesticides are some of the variables involved. According to the Florida Extension Service, it is possible to save money growing broccoli if you are careful. However, most people do not save money.
A ten-foot row of broccoli plants is enough to feed an average family of four. That would be eight to twelve plants. The average selling price at a Farmer’s Market for that much broccoli was $8.65 in 2018-2019 in Florida. It would be higher now. Supermarket prices are higher than Farmer’s Market prices, in general. Say the broccoli would cost about $10 in a supermarket.
To find out if you save money, add in the cost of:
- Cost of seed and seed starting supplies
- Transplants if not starting from seed
- Water used for irrigation (two inches a week per plant)
- Fertilizer at planting and then at four-week intervals
- Pesticides, if any
- Time spent taking care of the plants
Most people would not be able to save money currently. Of course, you have to consider the quality of the broccoli and the enjoyment of growing it before deciding if it is worth it.
How Long Does It Take To Harvest Broccoli?
Broccoli can take as little as 57 days to grow to first harvest or as much as 85 days. If you are starting the plants from seed, add in 25-30 days.
What Is The Main Problem With Growing Broccoli?
Broccoli, like any vegetable, takes lots of water and fertilizer to grow well. You will also need to weed it, remove pests, and inspect it at least twice a week for the life of the plant.
One plant can produce multiple heads as side shoots, and only stops producing when the weather gets too hot or freezes. This may be several months after the initial head is ready. The longer the plant grows, the more it costs in water, fertilizer, and time.
Do People Actually Grow Broccoli In Their Garden?
Broccoli is a very popular vegetable with home gardeners. Many people grow it in their gardens. I always plant several plants in my garden because I enjoy eating broccoli.
Easy To Grow Broccoli Types
There are generally two types of broccoli. One is cold tolerant, and the other is heat tolerant. Depending on your climate and the time of year, you would choose a heat tolerant type for spring gardens and a cold tolerant type for fall gardens. Here are some broccoli plants to consider growing.
This heirloom broccoli was grown by Thomas Jefferson. It takes 60-90 days to mature, depending on growing conditions.
The large green-blue heads are ready in 62-68 days. This is a hybrid type of broccoli.
You can have broccoli from this hybrid plant in only 60 days. Eastern magic is also heat tolerant.
Arcadia takes 63-68 days to mature. It is good for growing in the fall because it is very cold tolerant.
This type of plant grows a head in only 57 days. A hybrid, it is very heat tolerant.
The most heat tolerant type of broccoli, imperial is ready in 66 days. This is primarily grown in the spring in hot areas, or all summer in more moderate heat areas.
Another hybrid, gypsy is ready in 60 days. It produces tight heads.
In conclusion, only you can decide if broccoli is worth it. You probably will spend more money growing broccoli than buying it. However, I and many other gardeners enjoy the fresh broccoli with a low carbon footprint and more nutrients than what I get at the store.