Experienced organic gardeners bring diversity and balance to the garden with the age-old wisdom of companion planting, a time-tested method of close planting specific species based on their propensity to enhance each other’s growth and quality. Companion planting can help you grow a thriving crop of delicious, healthy broccoli.
Companion plants offer shade or shelter, conserve moisture, control weeds, enrich flavor, or provide some form of disease or insect protection. Companion plants, with differing nutritional needs, also work harmoniously to balance nutrient levels in the soil.
When choosing plants for companion planting, consider selecting non-competitive plants with differing nutritional needs and growth habits. Companion planting is an especially important gardening technique when trying to use space efficiently in a small garden.Best Companion Plants For Broccoli
For optimum flavor, plant broccoli near celery, onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and potatoes. Other garden favorites that grow well planted alongside broccoli are beets, bush beans, dill, lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, cucumbers, Swiss chard, and radishes.Broccoli and onions are good neighbors. davidgiesberg / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Fragrant culinary herbs such as lemon balm, lemon grass, thyme, sage, horehound, hyssop, basil, rosemary, tansy, oregano, chamomile, and mint help repel insect pests (e.g. harlequin bugs, cabbage worms, cabbage loppers, and cabbage maggots) that can quickly devastate a broccoli crop.
Nasturtiums, marigolds, snapdragons, and cosmos emit a scent that is repulsive to many garden pests including cabbage worms, whiteflies, flea beetles, cabbage root maggots, and aphids. These colorful blooming plants help keep the garden free of insects without the use of noxious chemical insecticides while adding color, scent, and visual interest to the homestead garden plot.Unfriendly Neighbors For Broccoli
Broccoli, one of the most nutritious of all vegetables, gets along well with most of its neighbors: more plant species flourish when planted close to broccoli than fail. Broccoli’s only problem is getting along with its own family, especially in poor soil conditions.
Broccoli is a heavy feeder, preferring loamy, well-drained, fertile soil. However, broccoli is not fussy and grows just fine in sandy or clay soils enriched to enhance fertility. Other members of the cruciferous plant family Brassica (Brassica oleracea), which includes cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts, compete for the same nutrients as broccoli. Planting them together with broccoli results in nutritional deficiencies in the soil.
Competing members of the Brassica family will fight to the death for nutrients. Unless continually supplemented with well-aged herbivore manures (e.g. sheep, goat, cow, or horse), few soils contain enough essential nutrients to grow broccoli alongside other members of the Brassica plant family.
Pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, watermelon, strawberries, pole beans, lima beans, snap beans and asparagus are also heavy feeders, requiring nutrient-rich soil: calcium specifically is in high demand. Avoid planting broccoli next to these garden staples, which compete for the same nutrients as broccoli. Grapes and mustard plants, when planted next to broccoli, also negatively impact the growth of the broccoli plant.
Broccoli fails to flourish when planted near members of the nightshade family, like tomatoes, hot peppers, and eggplant.Preparing The Soil For Broccoli
Broccoli grows best in a full-sun, although it will do well in partial shade. Choose a well-drained location with fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0, a pH level that discourages clubfoot disease.
Testing kits for soil pH levels are available online or from local home and garden stores, or you may take a soil sample to your local county extension office for testing. Amend soil as recommended. When soil is low in boron, broccoli can develop hollow stems. Amend if the soil test indicates a deficiency in the mineral.
Because broccoli is such a heavy feeder, growth and flavor are enhanced when soil is supplemented with a generous amount of nitrogen-rich manure, cottonseed meal, or garden compost. Before planting broccoli seedling, break up the soil to a depth of at least one foot, removing rocks, roots, weeds, and debris. Work in manure and add a substantial amount of peat moss to help conserve moisture.Tips For Growing Broccoli
Available in a diverse array of colors including white, green and purple, broccoli is easy to grow with minimal attention. My favorite broccoli varieties include Arcadia, Captain, Di Cicco, Emerald Pride, Everest, Gypsy, Packman, and Windsor.
- Plant in seed trays indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Sow seed at a depth of about 1/8 inch in a mixture of one part potting soil, one part peat moss, and one part garden sand. Keep potting soil uniformly moist, but not soggy. If allowed to dry out, seedlings will bolt and become inedible.
- Broccoli seeds need lots of light for best germination. Place potting trays in a bright and sunny location or provide supplement lighting.
- If the seed is sown outdoors, broccoli can germinate in cool soil temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above. For spring planting, experience gardeners suggest seeding or setting transplants three weeks before the last frost date. For a winter crop, seed or set transplants in late summer.
- In about six weeks, when seedlings are sturdy enough to transplant, transfer to the garden, planting broccoli plants approximately 18 inches apart. Space rows 18-24 inches apart.
- Mulch broccoli plants with a four inch layer of straw or dried grass clippings or ground leaves to conserve moisture. Broccoli demands consistent moisture to produce solid, flavorful heads.
- Keep a watchful eye out for white cabbage butterflies and promptly remove eggs and caterpillars.
- Once established, broccoli requires 1.5-2 inches of water per week: supplement if rainfall is inadequate
- Disease problems you might encounter when growing broccoli include clubfoot, black leg and black rot. Consult with the experts at your local county extension office for more information on organic pest management.
For optimum growth and flavor, broccoli requires a large amount of calcium. Successful broccoli growers suggest supplementing soil with regular applications of bone meal or other calcium-rich organic garden supplements, so that the soil contains plenty of calcium throughout the growing season. Apply approximately one pound of blood meal when seedlings are 8-10 inches tall and again every 3-4 weeks as the growing season progresses.
Broccoli has some frost tolerance and grows well in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 9. Being a cool-season vegetable, broccoli matures in less than eight weeks. Broccoli grows best at temperatures from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.Squash seedlings on the left, broccoli seedlings on the right. anjanettew / Flickr (Creative Commons)
When grown as a spring crop, it can be harvested, and vegetation cleared to make room for a fall crop. In zones 7 through 9, broccoli is cultivated as a winter crop. Broccoli does not do well when temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
During mid to late summer, it is difficult to grow quality broccoli, due to the adverse effects of low soil moisture together with higher soil temperatures. If you wish to try to grow broccoli in the summer, access to irrigation is essential.Harvesting Broccoli
When tiny flower heads are beginning to form at the center of the plant, watch the growth daily. Harvest when buds are tightly closed. If allowed to develop yellow flower petals, the buds swell and have a mealy texture and diminished flavor.
To harvest, cut flower heads with a sharp knife. To reap a second harvest, allow the plant to continue to grow after the first cutting of the main flower head. Additional shoots or smaller flower heads will develop at the axis of the leaves. Many gardeners report the second harvest of small immature flower heads is sweeter and florets more tender than the first cutting.
Broccoli is at its peak when consumed fresh from the garden. For short-term storage (3-5 days), mist unwashed heads and wrap in a damp paper towel for storage in the refrigerator crisper.
When ready to use, wash broccoli in warm water in a large bowl to which you have added a quarter cup of white vinegar. Soak for 10-15 minutes to remove soil and debris and to kill any insect pests that may be hidden in the tightly packed florets. Remove, rinse with cold water, and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.Broccoli nearly ready for harvest. Linda N. / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Do not store broccoli in a plastic bag or sealed container. Broccoli requires fresh air to retain flavor and texture. Stored improperly, broccoli can go from crisp and flavorful to limp and bland in just a day or two.
Broccoli can be frozen, canned or dehydrated for winter storage.References:
Broccoli Production, Penn State Extension Service
Gardening Solutions, University Of Florida
Broccoli, National Gardening Association
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The evenings are getting cooler, and I can sense that special, autumn crispness all around me. If you haven’t already done so, check your crafting supplies, because here come the autumnal-themed crafting ideas for you and your whole family. There’s something for everyone on this list.
Grab your hot cocoa or warm cider, gather your supplies, and prepare to create some beautiful fall crafts with the family. There are many decorative materials right outside your door.
Related Post: 25 Fun and Festive Fall Pallet ProjectsFall Crafts to Consider
Here are 13 ideas to consider doing with your family this fall.Pressed Leaves and Flowers Bookmarkphoto courtesy of buggy and buddy
There is only a handful of supplies needed for this cute project. It seems like reading picks up during the cooler months, so why not make a nature-inspired bookmark? All you’ll need is your choice of leaves and flowers, a scissor, cardstock, glue, yarn/string/raffia ribbon, a single-hole punch, and contact paper or a laminator.
You and your littles can create your own personal designs. If your kids aren’t into reading, maybe this handcrafted bookmark will provide encouragement. The steps in the instructions are easy to read and follow, making it a good project that older kids can do alone.Find this plan at Buggy and BuddyPinecone Bunniesphoto courtesy of fireflies and mudpies
I found several pinecone critters, and they’re all adorable. If bunnies aren’t a huge hit in your household, there’s an awesome hedgehog.
You’ll need some pinecones, googly eyes, wool or craft felt, tacky craft glue, wooden beads, twine, pompoms, and a scissor. You can use hot glue in place of the tacky craft glue if you prefer. Be as creative as you want with your pinecone critters.
P.S. If you make some, feel free to share it in the comments. We’d love to see your work.Find this plan at Fireflies and MudpiesAutumn Leaf Lanternsphoto courtesy of happiness homemade
This fun and easy craft makes beautiful candle holders. Upcycle an old glass candle or jar to an inviting, calming candleholder. All you’ll need is some fall leaves, your glass item, and Mod Podge. Press the leaves between some books for a day or two, and you’re ready to begin.Find this plan at Happiness HomemadeHappy Scarecrow Craftphoto courtesy of somewhat simple
These happy little scarecrows are adorable and easy to make. You’ll need some jumbo craft sticks, cardboard, white glue, craft foam, raffia ribbons, googly eyes, glue dots, markers or crayons, and flower stickers.
The instructions give you all the details you need to get your fall crafting game started. These scarecrows are so adorable, you may not want to put them away when the season changes.Find this plan at Somewhat SimplePainted AcornsPhoto courtesy of home stories a to z
This project is so simple it might not seem like you’re crafting at all. Who would’ve thought that collecting a bunch of acorns and painting them various colors could make such excellent decor? Honestly, you could work with any color scheme and have them around as decoration all year long.Find this plan at Home Stories A to ZFall Leaves in Wax Paperphoto courtesy of the seasoned mom
I loved making these when I was little. It was always amazing to see the leaves and paper mesh together to create a unique piece of autumn artwork. You and the kids could enjoy a nice walk to collect leaves and start crafting before you know it.
A towel, an iron, leaves, and wax paper are all you need for this craft. The instructions are simple. You lay out the leaves on a piece of wax paper and arrange them however you want. Put another piece of wax paper over the top of the leaves, and seal the deal using the iron. Make sure you put the towel between the iron and the paper to avoid directly touching it.Find this plan at The Seasoned MomLeaf Suncatcherphoto courtesy of buzz mills
You can use the leaves from the previous project for this one. You’ll use the same process and materials except you’ll need to add an embroidery hoop. You could make this kind of suncatcher for any season by using dried leaves and flowers from whatever is in season. Kids love to watch for the sun to shine through their suncatcher.Find this plan at Buzz MillsFestive Fall Wind Chimesphoto courtesy of the benson street
Little ones love to collect the trinkets gifted to us by nature. This autumn wind chime is a relaxing craft that makes use of beautiful, natural things. You’ll need two sticks that hold the wind chime together, twine or string, and glue. Add leaves, rocks, pinecones, and anything else you and the family would like.
You can also add some crafting items that will help the chimes make a sound. Small bells or shells would make an excellent addition to this fall favorite.Find this plan at The Benson StreetAutumn Leaf PrintsPhoto courtesy of meaningful mama
Here we have another simple project that’s fun for the whole family. All you need is an assortment of leaves collected from outside, acrylic paints (fall colors), white paper, and foam brushes. The kids get to paint the leaves and then press the prints onto the white paper. It can be exciting to add a new piece every fall and see how they’ve changed.Find this plan at Meaningful MamaMonster Mobile Toilet Rollsphoto courtesy of happy hooligans
This craft project is fun and perfect for preschool and older kids as well. You’ll need some empty toilet paper rolls, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, crafting foam, paints, yarn, glue, and a scissor. Paint the toilet paper rolls and work from there. The kids can have total creative freedom making these cute and friendly monster mobiles.Find this plan at Happy HooligansPinecone Bird Feederphoto courtesy of happiness is homemade
This crafting project is a two-for-one! You get to create an excellent craft while helping feed the local bird population. Go out and collect some larger pinecones, they can be smaller, but bigger is better. Peanut butter, birdseed, and a ribbon to hang the cone are all you’ll need.
The peanut butter gets slathered on the outside of the pinecone first. Then pour the birdseed in a deep pan or container, and roll the peanut butter pinecones in the seed to get them totally covered. Hang your cone when it’s ready, and enjoy the view.Find this plan at Happiness Is HomemadeMason Jar Scarecrowphoto courtesy of easy peasy and fun
This mason jar scarecrow is adorable and happy. You’ll need a clean mason jar, fall-themed acrylic paint, faux hay, burlap ribbon, googly eyes, paintbrushes, fake sunflower, and glue. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, and you’ve got the freedom to make any changes you’d like.Find this plan at Easy Peasy and FunPaper Plate Turkey Wreathphoto courtesy of I heart crafty things
We can’t forget about some turkey crafts, can we? This project is easy and doesn’t require many supplies. Paper plates, construction paper, glue, googly eyes, a red water balloon, stapler, paint, and a paintbrush. This turkey wreath is so cute and can be hung anywhere in the house to add a touch of fall.Find this plan at I Heart Crafty Things
Crafting can be incredibly fun. Especially when the crafting changes throughout the seasons. There should be something for everyone on this list. What are your favorites? Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? Drop us a line in the comments because we’d love to hear from you. Happy crafting!
This morning it was a cool 60-something degrees when I headed out to feed the chickens. As sometimes happens, I ended up wandering around the garden as well, so I took some photos.
Here are the Grocery Row Gardens from the leading corner off the main path:
I love the framework this system creates. If you get the bed and path spacing right, you can go crazy inside the beds themselves. There is a wide range of plant species inside each of these Grocery Rows. (Read more about the system in my little book Grocery Row Gardening.)
Just in this photo I can see cannas, sweet potatoes, asparagus, chaste tree, marigolds, apples, pears, fig, pepper, cassava, strawberries and ginger.
The cassava are really flying now (tall plants on the left):
We are clearing out the spent crops of spring and summer to make gaps in the beds:
These gaps are then planted with fall vegetables:
Note how the vegetables are planted around perennials and trees. That’s a Japanese persimmon in the image above, with broccoli seedlings emerging beneath it.
Speaking of emerging, there is a plantation of mushrooms coming up at the edge of our terra preta bed. Guess they found something good to eat in there!
Yesterday we almost finished building a new chicken tractor.
It’s too heavy to move by dragging so we’re going to put some wheels on it today and see how that works. We put some predator-defense skirting wire around the base to keep animals from digging under and taking our chickens in the night. Now we have to figure out how to make that work with wheels as well. We’ll figure it out. The tractor is super robust, which is why it’s heavy.
Meanwhile, farther out in the gardens we are making beds and planting them for fall, winter and spring harvests:
Some crops are already coming up:
The insects have been an issue but Rachel sprayed last night with some liquid Sevin (Gaia forgive us) and they seem to be gone this morning.
Finally, the green onions we planted last year are still multiplying. These were from the grocery store!
Onions on the left, cassava on the right:
Tomorrow we should get a lot more done. The weather is fine and sunshine is expected.
Finally, I leave with with the passage we read this morning during our family devotions:
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”
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A friend of mine shared this screen-capture with the caption “The look on that face!”
He is happy about those plants. Looks like a forest.
Not to be outdone, I posted back:
Yeah, mon. Here’s some soundtrack, mon.
ATTENTION DEA: Those are cassava in the background of my picture. I do not have marijuana, opium poppies, coca, Salvia divornum, magic mushroom, ergot of rye or any other controlled substance growing in my gardens, woods, van or attic. Especially not the attic.
Speaking of stress relief, I have been eating ultra-low carb for the last week. Mostly eggs, meat, kefir, bone broth, fermented vegetables and okra. Feeling great. Extra fat is melting off. I may quit caffeine too and see what happens. The Weston A. Price Foundation has some great health articles I have been enjoying lately. Just added cod liver oil to the diet as well. We’re also soaking and fermenting the chicken’s grain rations, like this gal:
I use chlorine-free water and throw in a cup of kefir plus a cup of kelp meal for extra nutrition.
And speaking of chickens, this is our farming project this week:
A new chicken tractor! We should finish it today. I have ordered 65 more chicks which are due to arrive in the mail on Tuesday or Wednesday. This design is from the University of Kentucky. You can download the pdf instructions here. It’s nice and solid, though a bit heavy. We’ll see how it drags. I want to get some birds on pasture and see how they do. We have severe predator issues here, so I am adding on a few additional layers of defense to make this safer, like a no-dig wire skirt. This man’s design is impressive.
25 of the incoming chicks are Red Broilers, 25 of them are Cornish Cross Mutant Freaks, and 15 of them are Brown Production Egg Layers.
I believe bad times are incoming and we would like to have a regular meat and egg supply before that happens. The 25 Red Broilers can live and reproduce as an ongoing meat breed, unlike the Cornish Cross birds.
Yesterday our other chickens (33 of them, 3 of which are roosters) produced 18 eggs for us. I want so many eggs we have some to give away. Right now we are eating them all without breaking a sweat. Extra eggs for pickling would be really good.
Along with the chickens, we are expanding the gardens:
Lots of beds going in for fall, though the rain has been a challenge.
Enough for now, though – I need to get some writing done!
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