Thursday, 22 April 2010

Purple sprouting Broccoli – It’s a Sin!

This delectable vegetable was said to have been first cultivated by the Romans some 2000 years ago. Italians must have kept this a secret because it’s not until the nineteenth century that it began to be more widely cultivated in the UK.

Now I love Calabrese too, but comparing it to home-grown purple sprouting broccoli is like comparing a decent table wine with a cheese roll to an aged grand cru served with canapés of fois-gras.

The taste when cooked Al dante is exquisite. Just two minutes in a roaring pan of water without salt is all it takes. The flavour is a textured, unsullied succulent treat on its own. Add a little slightly melted salty butter and pepper and you could be making noises that people would pay a premium chat room to hear.

Getting it on your plate is another challenge. April is the time to plant the seed. Making sure you don’t get root rot from overwatering or choked from lack of, potting on as required. Then Planted at a whopping 60cm equidistance in June into deeply dug soil with plenty of the rotten down good stuff. Do a rain dance around them to firm up the soil, water in and net. Failure to net at any stage of its growth will see your efforts razored to stumps by its nemesis - the evil pigeon.

In addition to the pigeons you need to fight off Slugs, snails, cabbage white butterflies and white fly during the summer months. Keep the ground clear of weeds (mulching really does help) and feed with organic tonics and regular water in the summer. Then stake towards the end of summer as the plants become top heavy with foliage. The plants have to be big strong brutes come spring. Don't do what half the plot holders do and rip it up because it looks a bit droopy in winter or early spring. There will be a flush of new growth in spring which means the pants are entering the business end. When this begins I chop off the old craggy leaves and the plants put even more effort into bud development

Once you are luckily enough to get to the budding stage then be vigilant. Pick regularly and pick smart. Don’t cut the buds if they are too small or it will be a waste. More importantly if the buds are becoming loose and bobbly then the plant is doing its best to flower and cut these off without delay. The trick is to get them somewhere in the middle without letting the plant go to the yellow flower stage at which point you'll have no more lovely purple sprouting broccoli until the following year.


  1. Hi, good tips, I love the purple sprouting at the moment but I need to be a bit smarter at not picking the buds too early.

  2. Pity I did not read something like this last year!We had giant broccoli which did not seem to be doing anything other than grow green leaves like elephants ears, I did pull it all up but the amount of purple sprouts we got were minimal.Feeding or lack of was probably the cause.

  3. A finer resumé of how to grow broccoli it would be impossible to find.

  4. Reminds me to take more care of the PSB this year and not let the pigeons savage it. I miss it! Only thing I'd add to your wonderful description is to steam it rather than boil it, less chance of it going soggy and keeps a lovely green colour.

  5. Apologies for any delay in responding

    Thank you for your comments all - Rob i'm with you there on the steaming tip. We did that last night and it was even more special.

    Since making this post I have slightly overdosed on PSB and Asparagus having eaten it everyday for the last week.

    There will be enough again this evening to keep us all fixed until the weekend, when there will be another load to cart home.

    My eldest son thinks its hillarious that his pee smells odd and is a peculiar colour. God i'm loving it.


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