Broccolini, sometimes referred to as baby broccoli or Chinese broccoli, is a healthy addition to your vegetable garden and one you should definitely consider growing. It’s a tasty and highly nutritious vegetable. Follow my step-by-step guide on how to grow broccolini in your own patch.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just a beginner, if you follow these easy steps, you’ll be able to harvest your own fresh broccolini to add variety to your family meals.
If you’re not familiar with broccolini, it’s actually a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese kale. Follow me as I take you through the process of how to grow broccolini.
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Step 1: Choose Your Location
When it comes to growing your own vegetables, choosing just the right spot in your garden is relatively important. Especially, if you want to reap a good harvest.
Broccolini will grow best when planted in full sun or in a spot that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. So, you want to ensure that you choose a nice sunny spot in your garden to grow this delicious vegetable.
However, gardeners in warmer climates with hot summers can successfully grow this vegetable in part shade. I would recommend choosing a spot that gets morning sun but is shaded from the hot afternoon sun.
It’s also important that you have well-drained soil. Most vegetables prefer adequate moisture but don’t like having wet feet. The soil pH should be fairly neutral.
You also want to select a spot that is large enough for the number of broccolini plants you want to grow. These plants do tend to take up quite a bit of space. Plus, they can reach a height of up to 3 feet (90 cm).
The correct spacing between each individual plant is around 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm). Now that you know this, you’ll be able to work out how many plants you can successfully grow in your chosen location.
Broccolini can also be successfully grown in a large pot. This is ideal if you have limited space in your garden or only have a balcony to grow on. More on this later.
Step 2: Prepare Your Soil
Before planting out a new garden bed or replanting one that has been harvested, I always like to add a couple of inches of compost on top of the soil. This doesn’t have to be deep but just enough to add some extra nutrients.
I’ve just finished planting out a couple of new beds and just added a layer of compost around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) thick.
Not only will this give your new plants a nice head start, but it will break down into the soil below and add valuable nutrients to feed the worms.
Ideally, you want to add compost or other organic matter that you’ve made yourself. Here’s a complete guide I wrote about making your own compost if you haven’t done this before.
If you haven’t yet started making your own compost, you can just buy a bag or two from your local garden center. While you’re there, also consider getting some slow-release organic fertilizer which you’ll need to feed your broccolini plants.
Because I like to follow sustainable gardening practices, I generally don’t till the soil. This avoids disturbing all the microorganisms that live there. I just spread the compost on top of the soil and then plant the vegetables into this.
In saying that, I do have lovely sandy loam to work with so the roots can easily travel through the compost and into the soil beneath. However, if your soil is heavy clay, you might need to work it a little and dig the compost into it.
Step 3: Plant Your Seeds Or Broccolini Seedlings
You can easily grow broccolini from seed or purchase some seedlings from your local garden center. Whichever you decide, the best time to plant is after the last frost date has passed in early spring.
To get a head start if you choose to grow from seed, you can start these indoors around 3-4 weeks before the last predicted frost date for your region. Remember that it can take between 60 to 90 days before you can harvest your broccolini.
You can even plant a successive crop in late summer for an autumn or fall harvest in milder areas.
How To Sow Seeds In The Garden
If you choose to grow broccolini from seeds, you can sow these in your garden bed in spring. Just create a shallow furrow that’s around ¼ inch (1 cm) deep and sow the seeds around 4 inches (10 cm) apart.
When sowing seeds, I always like to put 2 or 3 seeds in the same spot just in case some of them don’t germinate. Once the seedlings have emerged, I thin out the weakest ones.
Remember that you want the plants spaced around 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) apart, so you will need to thin out quite a few seedlings if you’ve had a good germination rate. You want to do this once the seedlings are around 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) tall and they’ve developed their first true leaves.
How To Plant Seedlings Or Transplants In Your Garden
If you choose to purchase some seedlings instead, you’ll cut down the time to harvest. I generally plant seedlings the same way by creating a slightly deeper furrow and then placing the seedling in this.
When you do it this way, you can space the plants 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) apart from the beginning and you won’t need to thin any out.
Then, you just gently backfill the furrow, making sure that you firm the soil around each seedling so that it sits upright.
Step 4: Caring For Your Plants
Like most vegetables, broccolini will benefit from proper care. This involves giving your plants ample water and fertilizer to ensure optimum growth.
How often you water will depend on your climate and how much rain you receive. The soil should be consistently moist but not overly wet. For some gardeners, this may mean watering on a daily basis during summer while others may only need to water deeply once a week.
I like to mulch my vegetables with something like pea straw as this helps to retain moisture and will also break down over time to feed the plants.
A good organic slow-release fertilizer should be applied to the soil around your plants every 6 weeks or so during the growing season. This will provide your broccolini with enough nutrients to grow well as this plant is a fairly heavy feeder.
Alternatively, if you prefer to use a liquid fertilizer, you want to apply this at least once a week. This is because liquid feed is available to the plants immediately but doesn’t last in the soil.
Keeping The Pests At Bay
Like other brassicas, broccolini will be susceptible to certain garden pests such as cabbage worms or cabbage loopers. These are the larvae of the white cabbage moth and once the moth lays its eggs, the green caterpillars can easily decimate a crop very quickly.
I find the best way to keep these pests at bay is to cover the crop with insect netting. All you have to do is make a frame over the garden bed with some bamboo stakes or plastic piping and drape the insect cloth over this.
In fact, this method of control will keep all flying insects such as flea beetles away from your precious plants. For young plants, you also want to be on the lookout for slugs and snails. You can either use snail baits or purchase some pet and wildlife-friendly slug and snail pellets
from your local garden center.
You also want to keep an eye out for a fungal disease such as downy mildew. Many gardeners have had success in controlling this disease by spraying the plant with a mixture of milk and water.
Step 5: How To Harvest Broccolini
Once your broccolini is growing happily in your garden, you want to understand what to look for so that you know when to harvest those delicious stalks of goodness.
Remember that it can take from 60 to 90 days before your plants will be ready to harvest depending on whether you grew from seed or seedlings. The harvest time will also be dependent on the particular variety you’re growing.
You can also keep an eye on your plants to see when the stems start to produce those small green buds. Once you see those forming, your broccolini is ready to harvest.
Make sure that you harvest tender stems while the buds are still tightly closed so that you get florets with the best flavor. Once the yellow flowers start to appear, while still edible, the stems may start to become a little tough and will eventually acquire a bitter taste.
One of the best things about growing broccolini is that the plant will continue to produce small tender side shoots with buds even after you’ve harvested the main head. If you don’t cut the main stem down too low, you can get successive harvests from each plant.
Just make sure that leave at least 2 inches (5 cm) of the stem on the plant and you’ll get plenty of side shoots.
How To Grow Broccolini In Pots
If you want to grow broccolini in pots, you want to choose a pot that is at least 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and just as deep. This is because broccolini has quite a deep root system.
You also want to ensure that you have one pot per plant so that there’s enough room for it to grow.
Always use a premium potting mix and follow the same growing directions as those for growing in the garden. Just make sure that you give your plant plenty of water because the soil in pots does tend to dry out quite quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Broccolini prefers a sunny spot that receives around 6 hours of sun daily. However, in areas with hot summers, some afternoon shade is recommended.
It only takes around 7 to 10 days for broccolini seeds to germinate. The time to harvest can range from 60 to 90 days depending on the variety.
Don’t worry if your broccolini has a few yellow flowers starting to develop. It is still edible but might just not be as tender.
Yes, just like ordinary broccoli (brassica oleracea), the entire plant is edible including the leaves, stems and small florets or broccolini heads.
Growing broccolini in your garden is not difficult if you follow my step-by-step guide. So, why not give it a try and add this delicious vegetable to your garden?