Cultivating broccoli in a raised bed requires a location with full sun, cool temperatures, and a soil depth of at least 12 inches (30 cm). Plant broccoli in early spring or late summer using loamy soil that is rich in nutrients. Space rows 24 inches (60 cm) apart. Plants within the rows should be 12 inches apart. Water your broccoli bed 1–2 times per week, using a soaker or drip irrigation system for 30–45 minutes. Broccoli is ready to harvest when the head has stopped growing and the buds are a lush shade of green.
6 Steps to Growing Broccoli in Raised Beds
All the details you need to successfully cultivate broccoli are in the following steps. Once you know what broccoli plants require to thrive, you can establish a raised bed and grow delicious broccoli of your own.
Choose the Best Location
For delicious broccoli, your raised bed needs to be in a location that gets full sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. It is also ideal to grow broccoli in a cool environment of 60–70℉ (15–21℃) because heat above 80℉ (27℃) will cause broccoli to bolt. When broccoli bolts it rapidly flowers, then dies, which ruins the taste of the vegetable.
- Broccoli will taste best when grown in a bed that gets full sun for at least 6 hours daily.
- The ideal temperature to grow broccoli in is 60–70℉ (15–21℃).
- Providing light shade on hot summer days can keep heat-intolerant broccoli cool and prevent bolting.
- Broccoli can grow in partial shade, but adequate sunlight is crucial.
- Signs of insufficient sunlight are brown stems, droopy leaves, and wilted stalks.
If your broccoli is growing in shade or otherwise isn’t getting enough direct sunlight, the heads will taste bitter due to the lack of photosynthesis. Broccoli will show signs if it hasn’t had enough sun such as droopy leaves, browning stems, and wilted flower stalks. Check out our full guide to broccoli sun requirements so you can choose the ideal location for your raised bed.
Plan Your Planting Rows
Broccoli plants should be grown in rows 2 feet apart (60 cm). In each row, leave 1 foot (30 cm) of space between plants. In addition to keeping the rows 2 feet apart, broccoli should be planted 2 feet from all sides of the raised bed. Finally, make sure your raised bed is at least 1 foot deep. This allows the roots enough space to develop. Without enough room to grow roots and spread leaves, your broccoli yield will be smaller and may not taste as good.
- Plant broccoli in rows.
- Broccoli rows should be 24 inches (60 cm) from the sides of the bed, other rows of broccoli, and other plants.
- When planting broccoli in a row, the plants should be 12 inches (30 cm) apart.
- Growing broccoli requires a bed with a depth of at least 12 inches (30 cm).
Broccoli plants can grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) in any direction, so be sure to allocate enough space for each plant when planning your raised bed. An 8-foot-by-12-foot raised bed can accommodate up to 15 broccoli plants. Smaller beds can be overwhelmed by more than a few broccoli plants.
Prepare Your Soil
Broccoli grows best in sandy or clay loam soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Getting the pH right is important for preventing clubroot disease, so we recommend testing your soil with a kit to accurately assess soil conditions. The proper soil for growing broccoli is well-draining and has a high concentration of organic, fertile material. Before planting, mix in 2 inches (5 cm) of compost to enrich the soil.
- Broccoli requires a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
- Use well-draining soil that is nutrient-dense and organic.
- Mix 2 inches (5 cm) of compost into the top 6 inches (15 cm) of soil in your raised bed.
- Use this testing kit so you know what your soil needs to produce the best broccoli growth
- During the growing season, add 2 pounds (0.9 kg) of this 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil (9.3 sq m) once per month.
Rich soil is necessary to grow healthy broccoli. Certain clay soils may not have enough essential organic matter for the plants to grow, so you should test the soil and amend it accordingly. Adding fertilizer during the growing season will help your broccoli grow successfully. Mulching is a good idea as well, since it will help lock in soil moisture.
Plant Seeds or Sprouts
Broccoli grows best in cooler temperatures. You can plant in early spring for a summer crop, or at the end of summer for a fall crop. Plant broccoli seeds in holes 3 inches apart (7.5 cm). The planting holes should be ½ inch deep (1 cm). Broccoli sprouts should be planted 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Bury transplants in the soil ½ inch deeper than they were previously. If you are growing more than one row of broccoli, plant the rows 24 inches (60 cm) apart. Immediately after planting, give your new crop enough water to moisten the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil.
- If you are growing broccoli in spring, plant it 2 weeks before the last average spring frost.
- For a fall crop, plant broccoli 6 weeks before the first average fall frost.
- Rows of broccoli in a raised bed should be spaced 2 feet (60 cm) apart.
- If you are planting broccoli seedlings, allow 12 inches (30 cm) of space between plants in each row.
- Broccoli seeds should be planted 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart.
- When seeds sprout and reach a height of 3 inches (7.5 cm) thin them until there is one plant every 12 inches along the row.
If you’ve planted seeds instead of sprouts, keep an eye on your young plants. Once the broccoli seedlings reach a height of 3 inches, they will need to be thinned. Remove the weaker seedlings until you have one plant every 12 inches along the row. This allows you to have a full row of broccoli even if some seeds don’t sprout.
Water Your Broccoli
Broccoli does best with a weekly watering schedule that provides 2 inches (5 cm) of water. Use a drip irrigation or a soaker to saturate the soil around each plant. Then, wait a couple of days for the soil to dry out before the next watering. For a detailed watering schedule, take a look at our broccoli watering guide.
- Broccoli needs 1–2 watering sessions per week.
- Run your drip irrigation system or a soaker hose for 30–45 minutes each time you water.
- To prevent overwatering, wait until the soil is dry to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm) before watering again.
- Water at the base of the plant so the leaves and head of broccoli do not get wet.
- Signs of underwatering include brittle stems, as well as dry, brown, or drooping leaves.
Water broccoli at its base, being careful not to allow water onto the head or leaves of the plant. Water left sitting on the plant can cause bacteria or fungi to grow and ruin your broccoli crop. Be sure to give your plants enough water each week and check for signs of underwatering, such as brown and yellow leaves.
Harvest Home-Grown Broccoli
Your broccoli is ready to harvest when the head stops growing larger and the buds are tightly-packed and green. If there is any yellow on your broccoli head, harvest it immediately. If left unharvested, yellowing broccoli buds will bloom into small yellow flowers and the broccoli will taste bitter.
- Dense green buds on the head of broccoli mean that the broccoli is ready for harvesting.
- When individual buds are the size of a match head, you can safely harvest your plants.
- Broccoli heads range from 4 to 7 inches (10–18 cm) in diameter when mature and ripe for harvest.
- If you see yellowing on the broccoli buds, harvest the plant before the buds bloom.
- If you wait too long to harvest, your broccoli will taste bitter.
- Harvest in the morning for the best-tasting broccoli.
- Use sharp scissors, these gardening shears, or a knife to cut off your broccoli heads.
The best time to harvest broccoli is early in the morning, before the soil has a chance to warm up. When harvesting your broccoli, try not to use a sawing motion that may damage your plant. Rather, carefully slice through the stems using gardening shears, scissors, or a knife. It’s important to make sure that whichever tool you use is clean and sharp.
Does Broccoli Grow Well in Raised Beds?
Broccoli is a crop that does exceptionally well when planted in raised beds since it is typically easier to control moisture levels and soil contents within them. Broccoli will thrive in a raised bed that receives 6–8 hours of direct sunlight daily, especially in cool weather. If you use nutrient-dense, well-draining soil and maintain a healthy watering schedule, your raised bed broccoli will turn out delicious.
How Do You Grow Broccoli in a Raised Bed?
You can easily grow broccoli in a raised bed by following the right planting, care, and harvesting techniques. Here’s how to do it:
- Establish a 12–18 in (30–45 cm) tall raised bed where it will receive full sunlight.
- Add loamy, rich soil with a pH of 6.0–6.8 to your bed.
- Plant broccoli in early spring or at the end of summer since broccoli is a cool-weather crop.
- Plant broccoli in rows, with 24 inches (60 cm) between rows.
- Broccoli sprouts should be planted 12 inches apart (30 cm).
- Seeds should be planted 3 inches apart (7.5 cm).
- Once seedlings reach a height of 3 inches, thin them until there is one plant every 12 inches along each row.
- During the growing season, add 2 pounds (0.9 kg) of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil once per month.
- Water your raised bed 1–2 times per week by using a soaker hose or drip irrigation for 30–45 minutes.
- Harvest your broccoli when it is lush green, no longer growing larger, and before it starts to yellow.
A raised bed makes a great environment for growing broccoli. You can control the soil contents and easily fertilize the bed. This leads to an incredible harvest, even if you’re new to broccoli cultivation.