Square-foot gardening is a method of growing a lot of food in a small area. Because so many plants are growing in a square foot garden, they require less maintenance to grow the same amount of food. You may wonder, “Can you plant broccoli in a square-foot garden?”
You may want to grow your own food but be short on space. Growing broccoli using square foot gardening is an attractive option. Read on to find out how you can grow lots of broccoli regardless of how much space you have.
Can You Plant Broccoli in a Square Foot Garden?
Yes, you can plant broccoli in a square-foot garden. Each broccoli goes in a single square. The main heads will be smaller, but the side heads will be larger in a square-foot garden. Due to close spacing, the plants are more vulnerable to diseases.
Pros & Cons of Planting Broccoli in Square Foot Garden
Broccoli does well in square foot gardening. The intensive cultivation means weeds are almost nonexistent. You should get the central head, and side shoots if you care for the broccoli properly.
However, you will get a smaller head because plants are somewhat crowded in a square-foot garden. The crowding also reduces air circulation around the broccoli, making it more vulnerable to diseases.
Types of Broccoli Work Best in Square Foot Garden
The best types of broccoli to plant in a square-foot garden are the medium and small varieties that produce a head quickly. Large varieties don’t really have enough room.
Here are some varieties that work well in square foot gardening.
Dicicco is an Italian heirloom variety with small to medium heads. It takes 45-50 days to form a central head. After that, it produces side shoots you can enjoy.
Green magic produces medium heads in 55-60 days. It also produces side shoots.
Packman is an excellent early-season broccoli. It produces a central head in about 50 days and then lots of side shoots.
How many broccoli plants can you plant in a square foot?
You can plant one broccoli transplant in each square foot.
How Do You Prepare a Square Foot Garden for Growing Broccoli?
A square foot garden is a 4 X 4 or 4 X 8 foot raised bed. Do not build your raised bed wider than 4 feet. You should be able to reach all parts of the bed without stepping in it.
- To build your square foot garden, use untreated wood, cinder blocks, or plastic planks.
- Fill it with a mix of one part garden soil and one part compost. The garden soil needs to be purchased in bags. Digging up dirt from another part of the garden won’t yield a good result.
- Use string to make a grid across the raised bed. Each square should be one square foot big.
- Work the fertilizer into the top two to three inches of your soil mix.
- Water the fertilizer in to make it available to your plants.
- Plant one broccoli transplant per square.
Tips on Taking Care Broccoli in a Square Foot Garden
Broccoli in a square-foot garden is a little crowded. You must take good care of your broccoli to keep the plant’s stress level as low as possible. Stressed plants do not produce good-tasting heads and side shoots and may bolt prematurely.
When to Plant
In the spring, plant your broccoli transplants two to three weeks before the average date of the last frost. In the fall, count back the days from the average last fall date and add two or three weeks.
For example, if the days to harvest say 50, count back 50 days from the frost date, then count back 14-21 extra days. That is when you need to plant your transplants to get a central head plus some side shoots.
Broccoli, like most vegetables, requires at least six hours of sun. In warmer climates, morning sun and afternoon shade produce the best results.
Broccoli is a cool-season crop that grows best in temperatures 60-70 degrees F. It can tolerate temperatures up to 75 degrees, but higher temperatures encourage the head to bolt, which ruins it.
In the spring and fall, broccoli can survive frosts of 28 degrees.
Soil and pH
Well-drained soil with ample compost mixed in produces the best broccoli. The pH of the soil should be 6.0-6.5.
The first week after you plant your broccoli, water it every day. After that, broccoli requires an inch of water a week. It is best to water this all at once.
The soil should stay moist without being soggy. Dry plants produce bitter, fibrous heads that are not good to eat. Soggy soil encourages rot.
It would be best if you got your soil tested every year. When you receive the soil test results, they should contain fertilizer recommendations. Follow them for the best results.
Without a soil test, fertilize the soil before transplanting the broccoli with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer formulated for vegetables. In four weeks, use a 5-10-15 fertilizer to side-dress the broccoli.
Fertilize when you harvest the central head to encourage side shoots. Too much nitrogen will result in lots of leaves but a small head.
Mulch helps retain moisture and retards weeds. The intensive cultivation used with square foot gardening retards weeds, but you should still mulch around the transplanted broccoli. Do not let the mulch touch the stem but leave a small gap between the mulch and the stem.
Cut the central head of your broccoli when the first hint of yellow occurs. Do not let the flowers open completely, or the head is not good to eat. Harvest side shoots in the same manner.
The broccoli will have a hollow stem if there is a boron deficiency in your soil. Do a soil test before planting to make sure there is enough boron in the soil. Do not add boron without a soil test, as too much is as harmful as not enough.
Plants in a square-foot garden are vulnerable to fungal diseases because of poor air circulation.
Water from the bottom with drip irrigation or a soaker hose to prevent water from getting onto the leaves.
Mulch will help keep soil containing fungal spores from splashing on your plant’s leaves. Do not overwater, or you will cause root rot.
Several pests affect broccoli. Caterpillars and maggots cause the most common problems. These can be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is allowed in organic gardening. Another option allowed in organic gardening is spinosad.
Here are some products with those ingredients.
- Bonide (BND807) – Caterpillar and Worm Killer, Bacillus Thuringiensis
- Southern Ag 13022 Thuricide BT Caterpillar Control
- Entrust SC Insecticide 1 Quart
Aphids can also be a problem. You can treat them with neem oil.
In conclusion, broccoli grows well in square foot gardening. The heads might be smaller because the garden is more crowded, but the side shoots are usually bigger.
In addition, the spacing between plants is less, so air circulation is not as good. Water from the bottom to avoid fungal diseases.
The same pests that bother broccoli in regular gardens bother them in square-foot gardens.