Just over a week ago, I started our broccoli seeds inside. Last year, as I stated in the previous blog post, we didn’t plan our garden out very well. We did have quite a few vegetables last year, but broccoli was not one of them. The reason we didn’t have any broccoli was because I was unaware that the growing season is too short here in the Southern Interior for broccoli without starting your seed early inside and then transplanting to the garden. Well, that and the fact that when the broccoli did try to make florets, the deer were on it in no time. This year I started the seed early (42 plants) and have a plan to use row covers to keep the pests out. I’ll create a write-up about the row covers at a later date when I set it all up.
Starting the broccoli seed was very easy. Since we don’t have a greenhouse on our property yet, I had to settle on something a bit cheaper. Strike that, a lot cheaper. Like less than $10! I bought a couple of Jiffy Greenhouse kits from the Ferry Morse Seed Co. You can buy some of your own by using the link at the bottom of this post.
The process of starting seed is quite easy.
- Use peat pellets, like those in the Jiffy Greenhouse, or just buy a bag of vermiculite soil or peat and place in planting containers/egg cartons, etc. Anything will do.
- Water the peat or vermiculite a bit and let it expand until it’s like a sponge and then fluff the surface and level.
- Sow 2-3 seeds per pellet or every couple of inches if using potting soil. Cover lightly with peat.
- Place the dome cover over the tray of peat pellets and keep it in a warm location away from direct sunlight. I kept mine in the pantry and left a fluorescent light on 11-14 hours a day.
- When first seeds start to sprout, prop the lid open. When all seeds have sprouted, remove the dome and place in a sunny location. I kept mine in the pantry with the light on.
- After first true leaves appear, cut back all but the strongest seedling in each pellet or group of seedlings.
And that’s it! Once you are ready to transplant the seedlings, it’s best to harden the plants by placing them outside in the shade for several days and bring them in at night. All the while gradually exposing them to full sunlight. Once hardened, simply dig holes, place the seedling(s) in said holes and firm soil around it. Water.