Hamilton College Community Farm

Plant: Broccoli

Family: Brassica

Seed Varieties Dates to Maturity:
  • Belstar - Standard variety with the best results in the spring of 2010.
  • Calabrese - A standard variety ready earlier than belstar, but with poor quality heads.
  • Marathon - Another standard variety.
Indoor Start Date and Cell Size:

First succession - 3/10 in open 200s

Second succession - 3/28 in open 200s

Fall succession - 7/20 in open 200s

Greenhouse Transplant Date and Cell Size:

First succession - 3/25 into 38s

Second succession - 4/12 into 38s

Fall succession - 8/4 into 38s

Outdoor Transplant Date and Bed Specifications:

Can be planted outside as soon as soil can be worked (early April), but at the earliest, one month after the initial planting (4/9, 4/27, 819). Plant the seedlings every four feet within a row with three rows to a bed, or only two rows if the beds are tight. Spacing has a lot to do with how large the heads will get.

Planting Tips:

When transplanting outside, bury plant up to first true leaves. This will cover the cotyledons, but will save the plant energy. If they are not planted deeply, the weight of the plant will cause it to fall over and while it will still grow, it wastes time and energy.

Plant Needs:

It is easy to let the weeds take over all the brassicas while busy with the rest of spring planting but try and stay on top of the weeds early on. When the plants get bigger, they will shade out the weeds and will produce bigger heads without the competition.

Cultivation Techniques:

Stirrup or collinear hoes work great early on. At some point, it will be necessary to switch to hand weeding when the plants are big enough

Pests and Pest Control:

The biggest problem for broccoli is the imported cabbageworm moth. This is a white moth that lays eggs on the brassicas, which hatch small little green ‘loopers’ or caterpillars. Using row cover until the plants are too big is the best preventative measure, but do not forget to check on the weeds under the row cover.

Harvest Techniques:

Use either the large blue-handled knives or the smaller red-handled serrated knives to cut off the broccoli just below the head. Leave the plant at least until the second succession is planted as more heads will spring up around the cut one.


As usual, harvest early and cool quickly. Wash and store in a perforated bag in a lug.


For wholesale, sell at $2.00 per head when they are of good size, but less if they are small. Sell at $1.50 per pound for wholesale.