Broccoli and calabrese should be on every vegetable patch. These are fantastic vegetables full of healthy compounds which we have often commented upon because of their nutritional impact. If however you fancy a change to the standard types of broccoli or calabrese for example, one of the finest types of broccoli to grow is ‘Early Purple Sprouting’ although the fine green heads of other kinds are highly valued.
Broccoli or Calabrese is usually sown outdoors from late winter – early March to mid-spring such as late May, very thinly in a seed bed dedicated to the crop alone. Seeds sown as early as possible appear to produce the best plants we’ve noticed but a decent crop can be obtained with late sowings. I’ve noticed they almost leap out of the pot once they’ve started. The seedlings must be allowed to grow on until they are large enough to be planted in their cropping positions, usually elsewhere in the garden.
Purple sprouting broccoli has fluffy purple heads which add an Impressionist colour hue to the garden patch. When cooked they turn a delectable green and their glossiness on the dinner plate simple shouts good health. Another great feature of this vegetable is that it is best picked in winter. It has a natural hardiness. Best served steamed or stir-fried to retain its crunch, than seasoned with a little salt and pepper.
Sowing time: May – June (best times in reality in the UK/USA)
Harvest: February – March (best time) but will continue to May !
Sowing Broccoli And Calabrese Seeds Outdoors
Seed needs to be sown thinly, about 1.5cm deep into a soil which has been tilled to a fine, crumbly texture. The soil should be fertile and well-drained. This will also have been watered previously with all weeds removed and once the seeds are sown covered over.
Plant in rows, allowing 45cm between each. make sure to cover with netting at all times to protect crops from birds especially pigeons or cabbage caterpillar munching.
Most seedlings appear between 2 and 3 weeks.
The ground needs to be kept well watered if the ground dries up. A watering can with a fine rose is ideal until the plants are fully established in the ground.
When large enough to handle, seedlings are transplanted when they are above 10cm tall and into soil 75cm apart. They must be carefully handled using just the leaf and not the stem which could damage the young seedling. The seedlings are ‘laced’ 60cm apart in all directions, firmed and watered in well.
Sowing Brocooli And Calabrese Seeds Indoors
Seeds can also be sown in a propagator if late winter is really too harsh. When sowing indoors use a either a multi-purpose compost or John Innes No. 1 compost and sow about 0.5cm deep. In mild spells they will germinate on greenhouse staging or in a propagating tray which has some under heat. This is watered beforehand and placed in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse. The soil is kept moist and the seedlings transplanted to other trays at 5cm apart. Once they have sprouted, the seedlings should be large enough to handle. The young crops are accustomed to the outdoors before planting out in July or August.
The shoots of sprouting broccoli are either cut or snapped off when 15 cm long from February to May. For early flowering sprouting broccoli it is best to describe the heads as flowering shoots. Do so before the flowers open.
Cut main heads promptly and side shoots will then produce secondary and even tertiary pickings.
Do not remove the larger leaves as these will protect new growth.
Cultivars Of Broccoli And Calabrese
cv. Ironman – reliable, producing dense, domed heads of blue-green flower buds. Holds well, re-sprouts vigorously and tastes great.
cv. Monciano – dense green heads and lots of tasty side shoots as usual but this one has good resistance to club root.
cv. Broccoli ‘Kabuki‘ – an early variety cropping 65 days after planting out. Plant 15-17cm apart for ‘baby veg’. Ideal for pots or small raised beds.
Clubroot Resistant Varieties To Try. If clubroot is a major issue on your soil, then try the Brassicas collection from Simply Seeds which has four resistant varieties for sowing. They include a cauliflower (cv.Clapton), brussel sprout (cv. Crispus), calabrese (cv. Monclano) and the cabbage (cv. Kilaton).
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