QUESTION: I live in an apartment and can’t plant a garden. I have some space on my balcony. Can you grow broccoli in pots? What kind of pot do I use?
ANSWER: Like many vegetables, broccoli is perfectly suited to container gardening and seems to enjoy growing in containers as much as it enjoys growing in the ground. Broccoli plants have a pretty wide spread, however, so you will want to give each plant its own five gallon container (or plant two or three in a 15 gallon container) to give each of your broccoli plants enough room to grow as large as possible.
Caring for broccoli in containers is a bit more labor intensive than most vegetables require, as broccoli plants need to be watered regularly and fed frequently with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. If you are planting for the fall, start germinating your seeds about one month before the first average frost. Either start your seeds indoors or plant them directly in your containers. Broccoli seeds will germinate at 75-80 degrees F. If temperatures are still too high, they may not sprout outdoors. If you started your broccoli plants indoors, gradually introduce your seedlings to the outdoors by placing them outside for a few hours each day before making the final move outdoors.
As broccoli plants are prone to bolting in cases of high temperatures, you will need to continue to pay attention to weather fluxuations, especially temperature shifts. Containers, especially black ones (which you should try to avoid for broccoli), have a tendency to heat up in the sunlight, and you don’t want to let your broccoli container go past 80 degrees F. If you are struggling to keep your broccoli plants under 80 F, try to position the plants so that the broccoli is in partial shade and the container itself is in full shade.