When most people hear the word broccoli, their first reaction is either Ew! Or yack! It is not a meal that is appreciated by most people despite the numerous benefits it has. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins B (which by extension provides folic acids,)contains fiber and potassium. It is also a good source of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and promotes regeneration of cells when one is wounded.
Broccoli can be defined as a type of cabbage that bears green flower buds and is consumed as a vegetable.It is mostly grown in Asia,Europe,North America and parts of the African continent.
Can you grow broccoli indoors?
Yes, it is possible to grow broccoli indoors. Broccoli does not take up much space and doesnot requireintensive capital to grow. It is a cool weather crop that does well in properlywatered fertile soils.
You can use those small containers that you always find lying around the house to get started. Although the produce may not reach the standards of those produced commercially,it will be wortheating fresh produce from your very own garden.Not forgetting the benefit of saving a few bucks and numerous trips to the store in search of the vegetable crop.
It is important to do some research prior to starting your broccoli farm.
How to grow Broccoli indoors
Broccoli can either be grown from scraps or seeds. As they always say, ‘It’s dealer’s choice!’
Here is how you can to grow broccoli from scraps.
- Cut the stalks off as you normally would, ensure to leave about 2inch lengthabove the base. This root ending can be regrown.
- Take a shallow container and fill it with water, then submerge the root ending.
- Place the container close to the window where there is access to sunlight.
- Remember to periodically add water (every 2 to 3 days)so that it may not dry out.
- After about 2 to 4 days, the roots and leave will start to appear. At this point you can transplant your broccoli to your garden or the container filled with soil.
Here is how to grow broccoli from seeds.
Quality broccoli seeds can be found in any agrovetoragricultural seed company.
- Fill the container or pot with soil;add some manureor slow release fertilizerand water.
- Plant about three broccoli seeds per hole and be sure to cover the seeds well with soil.
- Make sure the container or the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
- Always keep the soil moist and ensure you place it where there’s natural light. Avoid placing the container in direct sunlight because the seeds can easily dry.
- Broccoli seeds germinate within 4 to 7 days.
You can use several containers to plant your broccoli in order to get more produce.
What can make broccoli not to grow?
Less or excess watering can delay broccoli germination or even make it not to grow. Maintain an optimum supply.
Inadequate sunlightcan stunt broccoli growth.
Abandoning your broccoli after planting can also delay its germination, it is therefore important for you to pay attention and ensure you supervise your plant throughout.
Research on the species of broccoli that you have planted, this can help you be better placed to take great care of it.
What to look out for
Broccoli requires at least five to seven hours of sunlight every day. Make sure you understand the seeds that do well indoors prior to planting. Closely monitor the leaves; if they are yellow in color then the plant is not absorbing the right amount of nitrogen. This can be avoided by adding a nitrogen rich fertilizer to the soil.
Pay attention to the leaves tipping which happens at the edges of the leaves making them dry and sometimes also change color. Make sure that the plant is steady and well-spaced.
Probethe soil to determine the moisture content. You want to be sure that there is adequate water in the soil.
Be wary of wilting that happens when the plant is not getting enough water.
Challenges of growing broccoli indoors
Like any other farm produce, growing broccoli indoors comes with its own share of challenges.Fortunately, as with any hurdles, there are mitigation measures.
- Disease attacks are to be expected. Common broccoli diseases would include; the fusarium yellows, powdery mildew, club rot and black rot.Most of these diseases dig through the injured tissue of the broccoli.They can be prevented through mixing the soil with an organic fertilizer before the plantation process. Ensure that you space the plants appropriately as well.
- If you plan to irrigate, ensure the irrigation is applied directly to the soil to keep the plants dry as much as possible. This will go a long way in controlling diseases.
- The lack of effective pollination from the insects or wind is a major challenge. Broccoli isdependent on cross pollination for fertilization. Place the crops near an open windowor at the balcony to allow access to the agents of pollination such as wind and insects in order to have continued production.
- Insufficient light, especially when the containers have not been placed where light is accessible for at least 7 hours a day. Broccoli, like any other plant requires sunshine for photosynthesis to take place.Be sure to place your crop near a source of sufficient light.
- Pest interference is also to be expected.Insects may attack your broccoli, these may include; cabbage worms, cutworms, flea beetles. You can get rid of some of the insects by hand picking. Biological control is said to be the best method to control the pests, as the pesticides tend to alter the taste of the final produce.
Benefits of growing broccoli indoors
Apart from the fact that the crop provides nutrientssuch as vitamins, fiber and minerals that have several benefits in the human body. The benefits below will give you motivationto take a step and grow the crop.
- Broccoli can be cooked or eaten when raw.
- It is rich in vitamins that helps strengthenthe bones as well as prevent bone disease.
- It controls blood sugar.
- Reduces body tissue inflammation.
- Protects the body against common cancers like prostrate, stomach, skin, breast, kidney and bladder cancer.
- Its fiber content makes digestion easy and prevents constipation.
- It protects the skin from damage.
- Helps in prevention of heart disease.
- Consumption of broccoli may increase life span.
- It is also great in aiding weight loss.
When is the best time to harvest broccoli?
Wellan – an indoor grown broccoli – can be harvested at the peak of freshness;after 50-80 days of plantation the plant is firm and ready for harvest.
The harvest is best when done in the morning when the buds of the head are firm and tight, just before heads flower. Harvesting is done using a sharp knife which cuts the head from the plant when the flower bud is still green. The stem is also cut keenly off when need be because it is also edible.Great care must be exercised when harvesting to avoid damaging of the plant since it can be harvested two to three times. Slashing should be avoided.
Broccoli is an annual food crop thus can produce for a year before being replaced.
Signs that broccoli is ready for harvest
- The size of the flower bud should be large.
- When the broccoli color is deep green it is a sure sign that your crop is ready.
- Another indicator is the floret size. It should be large.
- When it has yellow petals, harvest immediately to avoid quality decrease.
If you notice the above signs, then your broccoli has matured and is ready for harvest and subsequent consumption.
How to check if your broccoli is fit for consumption
Broccoli is one of the vegetables that are highly perishable, and when spoiled it can be noticed easily.
Bad odor is one of the signs that show that your broccoli is spoilt and is not fit for consumption.
When you notice the broccoli has some molds or black spots then it means it has to be thrown away.
When its color has changed from green to yellow, brown or black, then it is already spoilt and has lost its nutritional value.
Always check the florets because they are the most perishable parts of broccoliand can give you a clear indication of the state of your broccoli.
How to pack broccoli for storage
Broccoli can last upto seven days when refrigerated. Great consideration should be taken when storing broccoli. It is advisable for you not to clean the broccoli before storing, but if you do, ensure you dry it properly to avoid making it spoil quickly. You can use a plastic container for storage to maintain its freshness or wrap the broccoli with a piece of plastic paper and ensure that the plastic paper is well perforated for the air to circulate.
You can either store it in the freezer or in the fridge
I encourage you to take up this opportunity, put up that extra kitchen, compound or rooftop space into some great use. Self-grown produce will always be superior tostore-bought produce in both quality and expense. Not forgetting that these beautiful crops can also improve the aesthetics of your home so you have all the reasons to get right toit!