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Vegetable Gardening

How to Cut Broccoli off the Plant and Keep it Growing

Find out when and how to cut broccoli off the plant so you can enjoy this supergreen for months.

Let me tell you about the first time I grew broccoli. I planted three in a row. They were one of the first to grow in my garden that year, and I was proud. As they started to go from small heads to the kind you see in the grocery store, I realized I didn’t know how to cut broccoli off the plant. And honestly, I was confused why anyone would grow such a big plant for one head of broccoli. So I just kept letting them grow… until they flowered. This was too late to learn that the flowering state means my time had run out, and also that had I cut them early, they would have produced additional heads of broccoli. I was broccoli-less that year, which is particularly sad because they take up a good amount of space.

Luckily, a more experienced friend explained to me, when I told her of my broccoli woes, how to cut broccoli off the plant early enough so I could enjoy this nutritional powerhouse for several months. Ever since, I’ve had the luxury of walking out to my garden to collect fresh, delicious broccoli for all sorts of meals.

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How to cut broccoli off the plant: Your guide to seasonal joy

There are a few tricks to learning how to cut broccoli off the plant at the right time, but it’s not hard. It’s really just a matter of keeping an eye on your plants. Look for the broccoli head to start forming those tight, dense groupings of buds you’re used to seeing in the supermarket.

One of the most obvious signs to watch for is flowering. A head of broccoli is really just a collection of flower buds. Once you see the very first sign of a yellow flower, that’s when you know it’s time to cut your broccoli.

Broccoli is a cool-weather plant, so if the temperatures are climbing, be sure to check your plant every day for those hints of flowering. Once flowers start appearing, the flavor decreases rapidly.

As for how to cut broccoli off the plant once it’s ready, grab your pruning shears and clip the stalk at an angle about five or six inches below the center head.

That’s your first harvest.

Over the next few weeks or months (depending on the variety and climate) you’ll notice smaller side shoots of broccoli heads. These won’t be as tightly packed as the center head was, but they are every bit as delicious. You can clip those as well.

How to cut broccoli off the plant: The extra-special bonus section

Just because you know how to cut broccoli off the plant and enjoy two, three, or more harvests, doesn’t mean you are done. The leaves of the broccoli plant are an oft overlooked source of culinary joy. If you haven’t tried them, you’re really missing out.

Broccoli leaves are a perfect substitute for kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and mustard greens. They taste a little like broccoli rabe – slightly sweet and slightly bitter. They are also immensely healthy.

And once you’ve harvested the broccoli heads and partaken of the leaves, the remaining plant can go right into your compost bin to help nourish your garden. That’s what I call a winning addition to your planting.

What has your experience been like with growing broccoli? Share your stories and tips in the comments below.

Discover 10 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying fruits, vegetables, herbs and more from your home garden—when you access the FREEBIE How to Grow a Vegetable Garden, right now!

By Amanda MacArthur

Amanda MacArthur is Senior Editor & Producer for Food Gardening Network, where she is responsible for generating all Daily content and managing distribution across all web, email, and social media platforms. In her producer role, she is responsible for planning, editing, and deploying all video content for collections, magazine issues, and daily tips. Amanda manages a large food and herb garden at her home in western Massachusetts. As a best-selling cookbook author, Amanda cooks using ingredients from her outdoor gardens in the summer and from her indoor hydroponic garden in the winter.

One reply on “How to Cut Broccoli off the Plant and Keep it Growing”

This is the first year I have broccoli in my garden. The plants are coming along great, but I had no idea how to cut off the head and save the plant if more might be coming. Sure appreciate your information about how to care for this plant. I’m going to cut some off tomorrow and will be eating high off the hog!!

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