Most households enjoy broccoli and it's a crop you can grow at home in a cool climate.

Tops tips for growing awesome broccoli!

1. Full Sun - flowers need full sun, while leaves can survive in full shade. This can be a bit confusing for a broccoli because in the crop rotation cycle it is a "leaf". But when it comes to sunlight, considering what we eat is the "flower", to get big heads you will need to plant it in full sun.

2. Rich soil - brassicas are "heavy feeders". This is why in the crop rotation cycle they do best after legumes have been harvested which put a lot of nitrogen in the soil. Before you plant your seeds/seedlings enrich your soil with compost and sheep manure. Water them in with a seaweed concentrate. If you have already planted then scatter sheep manure around the plants and water with seaweed concentrate every 2 weeks.

Half way through the season, add more manure and compost around plants.

3. Loose soil - make sure you turn your soil over to a depth of 30cm so it's easy for the broccoli to put down roots and seek out the nutrients it craves.

4. Test your pH - broccoli like a neutral pH 7 so test and amend as necessary.

5. Spacing - although I am a dense planter, broccoli are a crop that this does not work for. They need adequate spacing so they do not need to compete for nutrients with their neighbours and to allow good air circulation so they stay cool. Follow the instructions on the packet for your variety.

6. Mulch - spread lucerne or pea straw around the base of the plant to keep the moisture in and root cool.

7. Water - just because it's cooler doesn't mean these plants do need to be watered. Keep the soil moist, but also ensure it has adequate drainage.

8. Cool weather - broccoli is a cool climate plant. You'll notice that growth takes off when the weather starts to cool down.

9. Time - they are not a quite plant to mature, but instead can take several months to mature fully. Be patient!

10. Pest control - caterpillar attacks will slow growth so cover your crops with netting to prevent the white butterflies and cabbage moths from landing and laying eggs.


Remember thought to grow big heads of broccoli, you will need to select a variety of broccoli which disposed to being bigger.  These include "Waltham", "Green King", "Superdome", "Bonanza", "Barbados", "Blue Wind" and "Calabrese".

Organic Pest Control

Broccoli is frequently attacked by caterpillars and moths. Targeting these pests organically is a four pronged approach: pest deterrents, beneficial insect attractors, manual murder and sacrificial plants.

Companion Planting

This is not only to improve the flavour of certain crops but also to to protect them.
Sage, chives and dill deter pests from brassicas. Sage and chives can both be planted in Autumn whilst dill is actual a spring crop.


Fennel, Coriander and parsley attract the predators of the caterpillars and moth eggs. These can all be planted in Autumn as well.
So make sure you underplant your brassicas with some of these crops in order to deter pests and attract predators. As always I recommend bordering your garden beds with crops from the allium family like chives, onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and spring onions. These are all planted in Autumn (with spring onions being planted all year round).


Manual Murder

As with weeding you need to keep on top of pests. Pick off caterpillars and wash of moth eggs (check the underside of the leaves).


Sacrificial Crops

Sometimes despite all the companion planting and manual murdering you do somebody still takes up residence on your brassicas who isn't welcome. Sacrificial crops are the process of planting something to attract the pests to eat that instead. Lettuce or silverbeet are good options here. Young seedlings are delicious and irresistible.


But at the end of the day remember these bugs are part and parcel of gardening organically.


You can cover your brassicas with netting, either frost or bird netting, to prevent cabbage moths and white butterflies from landing on your plants.  This means the moths and butterflies can not lay their larvae and therefore no caterpillars take up residence.  

It is never too late to net.  But you may need to continue to remove caterpillars after you have netted if the eggs have already been laid.  You will be better in the long run to net at any stage.