In recent years Broccoli has been praised for its high vitamin content and anti-cancer agents making it one of the most popular modern vegetables. There are three types - white and purple sprouting and traditional head forming varieties. The sprouting types are hardy and are overwintered for harvest in spring, whereas head forming Broccoli are harvested in the same autumn.
Sow thinly 5mm deep in a seed bed in rows 45-60cm apart. Thin gradually to 30-60cm apart depending on the variety. The main sowing time is March and April. You can also sow in Spring in cooler regions, before the Summer heat sets in.
Transplant to their growing positions (as for cabbage), leaving 45cm between plants of white and purple sprouting varieties, 30cm between head forming Broccoli. Water well in and conserve soil moisture with mulch. Occasional feeding with a liquid fertiliser will improve results. Birds can be a problem, so net the plants when the heads are produced.
Marathon F1, Italian Sprouting, Kailaan Express.
Cut when the flower shoots (spears) are well formed but before the individual flowers begin to open. Cut the central spear first. This is followed by side shoots which can be picked regularly over four to six weeks.
Although not the most popular vegetable, well grown and well-cooked sprouts are well worth growing especially if you choose F1 varieties. Firm, water-retentive soil is important for good crops.
Sow late February to May 5mm deep in a seed bed with rows 45-60cm apart. Thin gradually to 30-60cm apart depending on the variety.
Transplant to their final growing positions, leaving 75cm between plants. The soil must be firm and should have had plenty of humus added the previous season. Protect from birds using netting or fleece; the latter will also protect against cabbage white caterpillars. Keep young plants well-watered and feed with a liquid foliar feed.
Start picking the lower sprouts when they are the size of a walnut and are still firm and tightly closed. Snap them off with a sharp downward tug. The flavour is usually better once the sprouts have had a touch of frost.