Gardener Cutting Off Broccoli From Plant
broccoli harvesting
(Image credit: ANCHASA MITCHELL)

Growing and harvesting broccoli is one of the more rewarding moments in the vegetable garden. If you were able to baby your broccoli through the hot weather and kept it from bolting, you are now looking at several well-formed heads of broccoli. You may be asking yourself when to pick broccoli and what are the signs that broccoli is ready to harvest? Read on for more information on how to harvest broccoli.

Signs That Broccoli is Ready to Harvest

Broccoli planting and harvesting are sometimes a bit tricky, but there are a few signs you can look for that will tell you if your broccoli is ready to be harvested.

Has a Head - The first sign as to when to harvest broccoli is the most obvious; you have to have the initial head. The head should be firm and tight.

Head Size - The broccoli head typically will get to be 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm.) wide when it is time to harvest broccoli, but don't go on size alone. Size is an indicator, but be sure to look at the other signs as well.

Floret Size - The size of the individual florets or flower buds is the most reliable indicator. When the florets on the outside edge of the head get to be the size of the head of a match, then you can start harvesting broccoli from that plant.

Color - When looking for signs of when to pick broccoli, pay close attention to the color of the florets. They should be a deep green. If you see even a hint of yellow, the florets are starting to bloom or bolt. Harvest the broccoli immediately if this happens.

How to Harvest Broccoli

When your broccoli head is ready to harvest, use a sharp knife and cut the head of the broccoli off the plant. Cut the broccoli head stem 5 inches (12.5 cm.) or more below the head, then remove the head off with a swift cut. Try to avoid sawing at the stem as this may cause unnecessary damage to the plant and ruin your chances for side harvesting later. After you have harvested the main head, you can continue to harvest the side shoots from the broccoli. These will grow like tiny heads to the side of where the main head was. By looking at the size of the florets, you can tell when these side shoots are ready for harvest. Simply cut them off as they become ready.

Now that you know how to harvest broccoli, you can cut the heads off your broccoli with confidence. Proper broccoli planting and harvesting can put this tasty and nutritious vegetable on your table straight out of your garden.

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Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.