One of the main signs that your broccoli is healthy is its deep green and vibrant color. Thus when the broccoli has reached its ideal size and has dark green and tightly packed compact florets, then it is a sign that your broccoli is ready for harvest.
When the florets of the broccoli are deep green in color, it is a sign that the broccoli is healthy and fresh. The green color in the broccoli is due to the presence of the pigment called chlorophyll which is the same pigment that also gives other green vegetables and leaves a green color.
Thus when your broccoli starts to turn yellow and lose its vibrant green color after a period of time, then this is due to the breakdown of the pigment – chlorophyll.
Yellowness is a sign that your broccoli is in the process of rotting. Thus if you see your broccolis with any signs of yellowness then immediately harvest it before it ends up turning yellow completely and becomes unfit for consumption.
Some slight yellowness in your broccolis here and there doesn’t mean that they are harmful to your health but when broccoli starts to turn yellow it usually tastes bitter and thus it is preferable that you don’t consume it as it may bring down the taste of your dish.
How to grow greener broccolis?
So if you are wondering why is your broccoli not growing into deep green color as it should or if it turns yellow (or of any other color), then here are some of the reasons that you can look into and take into consideration when you grow broccoli the next time. Also, by following these tips you can grow vibrant and greener broccolis.
1. Proper and sufficient sunlight
Broccoli just like other vegetables from the cabbage family requires a good amount of sunlight for its optimum growth and for producing beautiful green and vibrant broccoli heads. A minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sunlight is required for growing healthy broccoli.
It is also important to remember that even though broccoli plants require sufficient sunlight for the growth but if exposed to extremely strong sunlight then they can start bolting or going into flower so if you feel that your broccoli plant is receiving too much sunlight then try moving it to a semi-shaded place if possible.
2. Water and moisture
If you want your broccoli plant to produce dark green and vibrant broccoli heads then it is very important to make sure that your broccoli plant is hydrated throughout. Broccoli requires a good amount of water and moisture for its healthy growth and development.
You need to also make it a point that you are watering your plant sufficiently after you fertilize it.
If your broccoli plant is growing in hot and dry conditions, then you should especially make it a point that they remain damp and moist throughout. You can take a spray bottle and spritz some water over the broccoli plant to prevent it from drying.
In order to ensure that your broccoli plant is hydrated, you can check the quality of the soil present a few inches below the topsoil. If the soil present below feels dry then it is a sign that your broccoli plant needs more watering.
After all, a well-hydrated broccoli plant is always more likely to produce beautiful dark green broccoli heads than the one that is scantily watered.
3. Temperature and heat
Broccoli, being a cool-season crop, cannot survive the heat and extreme temperatures. Broccoli grows best in a temperature range of 18° C to 22 ° C or 65° F to 70 ° F.
For the optimum growth of your broccoli plant so that it is able to produce vibrant green broccoli heads, it is important to make sure that you are not growing your broccoli pant in extremely hot climatic conditions.
There are two ideal times to start growing your broccoli – The first is in late winter or early spring and the second is in late summer or early fall.
Remember that if the temperature is way too above the ideal range of temperature for growing broccoli plants then the broccolis might start to bolt in order to survive.
Thus, if you are living in a hot and humid area then it is preferable that you start planting your broccoli in late winter or early spring for a summer harvest, otherwise you can totally plant your broccoli in late summer or early fall for a fall harvest.
Just like extremely high temperatures and overexposure to heat can prove to be harmful to your broccoli plant, similarly, too low a temperature can also be a cause of stress for your plant and in some cases, the broccoli plant might not even be able to survive such stress.
Therefore, a dip in the temperature can also result in your broccoli plant not producing dark green broccoli. It is always a good idea to start planting your broccoli 6 weeks before the frost-free date.
4. Getting the right soil for your broccoli plant
The right soil for your broccoli plant is the one that fulfills all its nutrient requirements and also ensures optimum growth of your plant. Broccolis thrive in soil that is slightly acidic in nature.
The ideal pH of the soil to grow broccoli is somewhere between 6.1 to 6.8. If your soil pH is less than 6.1 then you can add some acid compost to the soil and if the level of the pH of the soil is over 7.0 then you can add some granular sulphur to the soil.
When it comes to the texture of the soil it is important to remember that broccolis grow best in soil with sandy and clayey textures.
Make sure that your soil drains well. Adding some organic matter to the soil for example manure or compost can help to improve soil drainage. This method is also known as mulching and it helps to improve the texture and structure of the soil thereby improving soil aeration and soil drainage.
5. Fulfilling the nitrogen requirements
Just like other vegetables from the cabbage family, broccoli also requires a good amount of nitrogen for its optimum growth. Adding fertilizers rich in nitrogen every 20 days or three weeks is a good way to increase the nitrogen content of your soil.
Nitrogen-rich soil helps you to get lush green broccoli heads. But remember that too much nitrogen present in the soil can also harm your plant so be careful with how much nitrogen fertilizer you are using.
Some natural fertilizers rich in nitrogen are sodium nitrate, blood meal, manure etc. If you want to naturally increase the nitrogen content of your soil then you can plant some leguminous plants around your broccoli plants in the same soil bed.
The rhizobium bacteria present in the root nodules of these leguminous plants help to convert the nitrogen present in the air into water-soluble nitrogen compounds or nitrates, thus increasing the quality of your soil.
6. Over maturation and aging of the broccoli plant
It is very important to harvest your broccoli on time. Waiting too long to harvest your broccoli can lead to yellowing of the broccoli heads and thus compromise its quality.
Yellow broccoli heads are a sign that your broccoli has crossed its optimum freshness time, and is in the process of rotting.
Many people wait for the broccoli head to grow bigger before harvesting, and thus end up getting pale green or yellow broccolis in the process. After a certain point, your broccoli head would not grow any bigger and only turn paler in color.
There are some signs you can look into in order to figure out whether your broccoli is ready for harvest or not.
Firstly look for the size of your broccoli head. Usually, broccoli heads grow up to a size of 4 inches to 7 inches (in diameter), even though there is no particular or perfect size of broccoli as this usually depends on the variety of broccoli you have chosen to grow.
For example, the Sun King broccoli grows a very large broccoli head than other varieties.
The next thing you need to look into is the color of the florets. If the florets are deep green in color and are tightly and compactly packed, then it is a sign that your broccoli is ready for harvest.
As already discussed, if you start seeing signs of yellowness in the broccoli head then harvest them as soon as possible to avoid getting bitter and rotten broccoli head.
If you want deep green broccoli, then you need to take all precautions to avoid your broccoli plant from bolting. Bolting is when your broccoli plant starts preparing to quickly produce seeds in order to complete its reproduction cycle. It is a survival mechanism for many cool-season crops, broccoli being one of them.
Your broccoli plant might start to bolt under conditions of stress. The most common cause of stress that causes broccolis to bolt is too much heat. Being a cool-season crop, broccolis usually cannot tolerate a lot of heat and high temperatures.
Too much strong sunlight can also be a cause of bolting. In this case, you can try to move your broccoli plant to a semi-shaded place to limit the amount of sunlight. Using row covers can also help deal with high temperatures and strong sunlight.
What should you do if your broccoli has already turned yellow or pale?
Well, if you see some signs of yellowness here in there in your broccoli head then you can simply discard the yellow parts of it and go on using the rest of the greener broccoli.
It is completely safe to consume broccoli if it has turned a little bit pale or yellow in color as long as it has not wilted. There is a possibility that this slightly yellow broccoli might taste a little bit bitter but you can bring down this bitterness by boiling your broccoli in a pot full of salt and water.
This will help remove the bitter components from the broccoli and also give the added benefit of removing or killing any bugs or pests present in your broccoli.
Apart from this, you can also season your broccoli well in order to cover the bitterness.
However, if you are not comfortable consuming broccoli that has turned pale then you can simply discard it.
Growing greener broccoli is no rocket science. Anyone and everyone can grow beautiful, fresh, and vibrant broccolis, given the condition that you are growing them at the right time of the year and taking all the necessary steps and precautions required to grow.
The right temperature, the right kind of soil, and the right amount of sunlight and water can help in getting you the best quality and deep green broccoli heads. Just follow these few tips and you would never want to go for the store-bought broccoli ever again!
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I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
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