A bit of a tricky veggie to grow on its own, but never mind planting it with companions, broccoli is a worthwhile challenge to many ambitious gardeners.
It is well known as a tasty vegetable and has gained the nickname “The Crown Jewel of Nutrition” for a reason. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and is an amazing source of folic acid, vitamin A, iron, potassium, and fiber.
If you’re reading this, then you’re here to learn about what grows well next to broccoli, and what to avoid planting near it.
Helpful Companion Plants for Broccoli
This funny little vegetable loves friends. These are plants you put in the soil to grow alongside it and help keep it healthy.
1. Nasturtium Flowers
Nasturtium is a good neighbor. Therefore, planted at the base of the broccoli in each row, it will act as a living mulch and help repel pests and improve flavor.
Plant in between the rows for flavor improvement and masking the scent of its neighbors against predators.
Set pots of it near your plant, but not in with it; it’s too invasive and will take over. This discourages harmful insects with its powerful aroma.
4. Mexican Marigolds
Another excellent choice is marigold. Planted between plants or rows, it will help to discourage just about everything from pests to weeds, to even rabbits of all things.
5. Dill, Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage
Planted alongside it, these plants not only give you a great selection of cooking herbs, but it also serves as a repellent for most harmful bugs and a lure for helpful ones.
What Not to Plant Next to Broccoli?
When companion planting broccoli, there are a few crops that should not be planted with it. These will not only hinder its growth or encourage harmful insects.
Broccoli is a cool weather plant, whereas tomatoes are very much sun-lovers and require a lot of it. Therefore, if you grow these together, at the very least, your tomatoes will die in the cooler temperature that broccoli loves.
Also, when tomatoes are planted in the cool, they are more susceptible to fungus and diseases which could infect your broccoli. Read: Companion Plants for Tomatoes: Good and Bad Neighbors
Similar to tomatoes, strawberries love warmth and sunlight and need a lot of it, so they won’t do well in the cool air for broccoli and vice versa.
On top of that, unless you’re an expert at growing them, strawberries tend to spread out and may choke the young shoots.
Simply put, cabbages are big. They need a lot of room for their heads to spread out and would essentially suffocate broccoli, cutting it off from sunlight and a lot of water and nutrients.
Cauliflower has a bit of a, shall we say, reputation among farmers for being rather temperamental. It’s very choosy in where it’s planted and how it’s nourished.
At first, it may seem like the perfect fit for its love of cooler temperatures, even cooler than broccoli.
That’s one of the largest problems in growing them together.
Cauliflower likes it even colder than broccoli and it’s so fussy about its living conditions that it almost needs to grow entirely by itself to be happy.
How to Grow Broccoli
This vegetable loves sunlight and will thrive best in either early spring or fall.
Its ‘friends’ will all be plants who love similar temperatures and climates, making them relatively easy to pair up.
You’ll want slightly acidic soil that’s very moist and loamy with about four inches of compost. Plant them about half an inch deep three inches apart and water them well.
The rows should be about thirty-six inches apart at all times and make sure to time the planting well to avoid the frost if you’re doing any late planting.
How long does broccoli take to grow? Growing from seeds planted directly in the ground, it takes between 80 to 100 days to mature. From transplants, they’ll take approximately 55 to 85 days.
Care and Maintenance
Once they reach two or three inches tall, thin them out and provide constant moisture to the soil, particularly if your area is prone to seasonal drought.
About one and a half inches of water should make them happy. However, make sure not to water the heads to prevent any rot from settling in.
If your soil is starting to heat up, you can counter this with mulch.
What’s especially cool about this vegetable is that even after the main head has been harvested, the shoots will continue to produce small side heads that can be snipped.
Keep up the acidic levels in the soil alongside your regular watering schedule and you’ll be in supply for weeks to come.
Pests and Diseases
Every gardener’s nightmare — pests and pestilence. One, in particular, to watch out for is aphids, which suck out the valuable sap.
Spray a little soapy water on the sides of the leaves to discourage these little buggers.
Aside from them, cabbage loopers, root maggots, clubroot fungus, yellow patches of downy mildew, and nitrogen-deficient soil are all major problems where broccoli is concerned.
Each region will have different pests and diseases to deal with. So, make sure you do proper research about what might be common in your area to better protect your garden from these blights.
Harvest the head when flower clusters and separation are dense between buds.
Also, if you notice that the flowers start to turn yellow, or they begin to open or separate, harvest immediately.
Don’t harvest the entire plant — cut the main bud and side shoots when they develop a dark-green color. You can expect about 6 harvests as side shoots will continue to sprout.
Where to Buy Seeds
In search of a reputable seed dealer, you honestly have a wide range of choices to pick from.
Many local farm and garden stores will carry the seeds. Besides, you can also look through online markets like SeedsNow.com for an even greater organic selection.
Growing broccoli doesn’t have to be intimidating, especially to beginner gardeners. Of all the growing challenges on your farm, it’s easily one of the milder.
Pay attention to its needs and its companions and in no time you’ll be enjoying delicious organic vegetables straight from your garden.