Growing Broccoli in The Northern Territory
Broccoli is a cool season crop. It loves the cooler dry season weather and is fairly easy to grow. With the right care, you can expect a bountiful harvest. Seeds should be planted in late wet season to make the most of the cool growing season of Top End.
Don’t plant your broccoli too late. You want to make the most of the cooler dry season. Once the weather gets too warm and wet, your broccoli will feel stressed and may bolt to seed or only produce small heads.
Broccoli is a heavy feeder, so make sure to prepare your soil with compost and well-rotted manure. Broccoli likes a neutral soil, so if your soil is acidic, add some lime before planting. Where possible, try to let your soil rest for about a week before you plant into it.
Broccoli seeds are most often started in trays or pots and then transplanted into the garden once the weather cools. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep them moist while they germinate. Make sure they get enough light and transplant them as soon as they are big enough to handle. Broccoli become leggy quite easily if they are kept in trays for too long.
Try to plant bought seedlings as soon as possible after you get them home and remember to give them a good, deep watering to help them settle in. The trick here is to get them in when it’s not too hot or too cold. When you plant your seedlings out, add a small amount organic bone-meal to each hole. Bone-meal gives seedlings a great start and helps them to develop strong root systems to support a healthy plant.
If your seedlings have grown too long and become leggy; plant them slightly deeper that they were in the pots. This should give you sturdier plants with tighter heads.
Don't let the soil dry out. Broccoli loves water, so be sure to keep the soil moist during the dry months in Top End by watering your broccoli often.
Feed regularly with compost tea, fish emulsion or organic fertilizer. Broccoli is a heavy feeder.
Mulching helps keep the soil nice and cool. A good layer of organic mulch like lucerne or sugarcane will help keep your broccoli growing happily. Remember to top up your mulch as it breaks down throughout the season.
The broccoli is ready to harvest once it forms firm heads. You need to pick it just before the flowers start to open. Cut off the head with a sharp knife. Some varieties form side shoots once the main head is removed. So, leave them in to harvest the smaller side shoots.