Broccoli is a nutritious and fun addition to your indoor hydroponic garden. It's part of the cabbage family, and as such the leaves of the plant are edible, as well as the head, stock and smaller leaves on the stock. Many of us have never consumed broccoli leaves unless we’ve grown it ourselves. They’re actually rather tasty.
Broccoli leaves are not only full of nutrients, but also have a unique flavor profile. The leaves can have a slight bitterness but are generally less bitter than kale. They also have an earthy flavor with a subtle nutty undertone. They’re great for salads, stir-fries, soups, sautés, green juices, and smoothies!
Broccoli is particularly super rich in vitamin C and vitamin K, and is also high in Beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that our bodies turn into vitamin A. Boiling broccoli will diminish its health benefits a bit, but steaming, stir-frying and even microwaving will keep most of those benefits intact. Roasting broccoli in the oven is something I tried recently, and I was pleasantly surprised by the unique, crispy, sweet taste that was brought out. I highly recommend you give this a try yourself!
Broccoli can be grown in the iHarvest Indoor Garden, but the broccoli heads we are most familiar with are slow to form, and can take about 3 months. And because broccoli is part of the cabbage family, the leaves that it grows are quite large and take up space by shading other plants. So, just keep in mind that broccoli is not exactly a cash crop for indoor gardeners that will help you to pay off your hydroponic system. But it can be fun to grow as it is a unique experience and you get to experience the unique flavors of the broccoli leaves. In fact, you can grow broccoli simply to harvest its leaves.
Growing smaller varieties of broccoli like De Cicco is a wonderful compromise for smaller systems.
Other Broccoli substitutions:
Broccolini is another option for those that want to grow broccoli, but don’t want their indoor space to be consumed by it. Broccolini was developed in Japan in 1993. It’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, but can be grown with the same pH and nutrient (EC) profiles.
Broccoli rabe, also known as ‘rapini’ or ‘raab’ is another option for those wanting to grow broccoli, but who do not want to sacrifice space in their garden. It also grows at the same pH and nutrient (EC) profiles. Interestingly, broccoli rabe isn’t actually a type of broccoli, but is instead a close relative of turnips that happens to look a lot like broccoli. The taste is more similar to spinach or mustard greens.
|Time to Harvest
Nutrient and Health Info - Broccoli is super rich in vitamin C and vitamin K. You will recieve more health benefits from eating raw, steamed, stir-fried or even microwaved broccoli, as apposed to boiling it.
Tips & Tricks - Broccoli will take up a lot of space. Consider growing broccolini or broccoli rabe.
Typically, your broccoli will germinate in 5-10 days. The germination rate of these plants is approximately 80%, so if you decide to plant more than one seed per hydroponic pod, you will have to thin them out before they get large.
Broccoli doesn’t have a particularly strong need for light, but give it at least 12 hours of light and as many as 16 hours to match the other plants you are growing.
Broccoli is a cool weather crop that does not like lots of heat, and this is one of the benefits to growing with products from IGWorks. Our high efficiency LED lights do not disperse a lot of heat, so your plants will grow successfully.
Broccoli is a heavy feeder, and if it doesn’t get the nutrients that it needs, you can end up with strange looking broccoli flours or hollow stems. Keep your EC between 2.8 – 3.5 to ensure your broccoli is getting the nutrition you need, so that you can get the nutrition that you need when you harvest!
Your broccoli prefers a pH range between 6.0 – 6.5.
The IGWorks® Green Machine nutrients are perfect while your broccoli leaves are first developing. And, if you’re growing your broccoli for the leaves, there’s no need to change things up. But, for the broccoli head to grow most quickly, you can switch up to our Flower Power nutrients. They contain less nitrogen and more phosphorous which will help your broccoli head (flower) form most quickly. Yellowing leaves are often a sign of nitrogen deficiency, so lean on the Green Machine nutrients more heavily if you see a lot of this. But keep in mind that portions of leaves and older leaves will yellow overtime, regardless of a nutrient deficiency.
Time to Harvest:
You can begin harvesting broccoli leaves in about a month. They are chock full of the vitamins and minerals your body is craving. However, if you’re trying to grow a broccoli stem and flower head, you will want to leave lots of leaves to allow your broccoli to photosynthesize most effectively, and grow it’s broccoli head.
Pruning and Harvesting:
Harvest your broccoli leaves as often as you’d like if you are growing broccoli for its healthy and flavorful leaves. However, if you are growing your broccoli for a stem and flower, harvest less aggressively and expect to wait 3+ months to harvest the flower. You can trim/harvest the end of your broccoli leaves some to keep the plant from shading too many of it’s neighbors, but don’t trim to aggressively or your broccoli will not be able to flower. If your broccoli has formed more than one head, prune the smallest one as soon as possible to direct more resources to the larger head.
Broccoli will occasionally, but not always, grow another head after harvesting.
Broccoli is a wonderful plant to grow just for its nutrient and antioxidant rich leaves. But, broccoli does take up a lot of space, and it takes 3+ months for the head to form. It’s not a cash crop that will save you $1,000 or more a year while growing, but it is a fun experiment and a delight for both kids and adults to grow their own. The leaves alone are great for salads, stir-fries, soups, sautés, green juices and smoothies!
Check Out Our Broccoli Recipes!
Let’s grow together!