Saturday Spotlight – Green Sprouting Broccoli – Calabrese

I thought for this weeks spotlight I would highlight a plant which I am both sowing and planting out (to ensure a reasonable succession) at the moment rather than one I am harvesting.   Now I know a lot of people rave about Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB) but I’m not really one of them.  I find it just takes too long to develop and to my palate doesn’t taste different enough to other broccoli varieties to justify the delay.  Green Sprouting Broccoli (Calabrese) on the other hand is much quicker to crop.  Calabrese is a loose headed broccoli which produces one smallish head along with numerable good sized side shoots.


Unlike some other broccoli varieties the side shoots develop at the same time as the main head which means that once it starts cropping harvest is pretty much continual.  Calabrese shoots are pretty similar to those sold in Australia (and possibly elsewhere) as broccolini, and I find their loose structure well suited to the stir fries I use broccoli in most.


Calabrese is pretty easy to grow provided you ensure it doesn’t get too damaged by cabbage white butterflies.  I don’t net my garden, which is probably the best protection against the butterflies, mainly because I grow too many different types of crops in the same area.  Basically I’m too lazy to lift a net every time I want a bit of lettuce.  However I find that rubbing my fingers over the underside of the leafs helps rid the leaves of eggs and the occasional visual check to identify any caterpillars that manage to survive works fine.

One advantage I find with Calabrese over the tighter headed broccoli varieties is that it is easy to see aphids in it’s flower heads and get rid of them when I find them.  I find a quick spray of water usually dislodges them fairly easy.

Calabrese needs much the same conditions as most other veg.  Nice well fertilised soil with a decent amount of organic matter.  Although it prefers full sun I find it tolerates partial (about 5-6 hours of sun a day) shade quite well.  I have grown it in pots before but like most brassicas I think it is easier and far more productive when given a space in the ground.  Having said that if a large pot is all you have then I would still give it a go.  Hopefully you’ll still get shoots by the basketful.


I still haven’t found a linky plugin that works but I have created a page (above, just below the header) with an Index of all the Spotlights to date.   I will add links to any new posts below and in next weeks post as well as ensuring they appear in the Index.  Let me know if you write one by leaving a comment.

New Spotlights last week were:

Our Happy Acres – Purple Queen Bush Bean

City Garden, Country Garden – Sorrel

My Little Garden Project – Big Rainbow Tomato

Garden Glut – Minnesota Midget Melons

A great variety of fascinating produce.

And new from this week:

Tronchuda Beira (Portuguese Cabbage/Kale) – From Seed to Table

Australian Butter – Climbing Beans – My Little Garden Project


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16 Responses to Saturday Spotlight – Green Sprouting Broccoli – Calabrese

  1. Dave says:

    I’ve never grown the Calabrese broccoli. It looks a bit like the Apollo variety I grow, which I think of as broccolini. My plants are a few weeks away from being ready to plant. I didn’t get a spotlight written this week, but I have more in mind so I will try for next time. I like the idea of having the links all on one page for viewing.

    • Liz says:

      I think Apollo has larger first heads than the one I’ve grown for the last few years…but then I’m often wrong….

      • Dave says:

        Apollo does have a nice first head, but it’s the side shoots I really enjoy! I tried the Piracicaba, and it was so-so here. I think I will try the Calabrese next year. It would be nice to add to my heirloom lineup.

  2. Michelle says:

    I’ve grown “Di Sarno Calabrese” broccoli before, and other similar sprouting broccolis. Last season it was “Apollo”, before that it was Piracicaba, and this season I’m going back to an old favorite “Di Ciccio”. The sprouting broccolis are the best, in my opinion – easy to grow, long cropping, and delicious. I really have not been disappointed by any of the green sprouting varieties that I’ve grown. PSB has been a dud in my garden – as you say, too long to mature and for me it turns into a nasty mess of uncontrollable aphids, just gross. I’m experimenting with “Purple Peacock” broccoli at the moment, it’s supposed to be more of a broccoli/kale cross. Time will tell…

    I’ve posted a Saturday Spotlight about Tronchuda Beira today. Thanks again for hosting this very fun and informative series!

    • Liz says:

      Purple Peacock sounds really interesting – I hope it remains aphid free. I find anything that goes too far into Spring here just turns into aphid food.

  3. Alyse Mae says:

    Oh yes, I love Calabrese Broccoli. I have some that are ready to be transplanted today. I tried PSB last year and it was an amazing success for me, it grew to be over 1.5m tall and had to be staked. I produced like made in late winter (I planted it in january) and just kept going and going, I would have had more if my resident ringtails didn’t like it so much.

    I have written a spotlight on a variety of climbing beans I grew this sumer called Australian Butter, you can find it here-

    This is a great series, so good to see other gardeners opinions on veggies they are growing, thanks for starting it!

  4. I am so behind in my autumn planting! Must get the broccoli in. Glad to hear someone else is too lazy to net.

  5. Netting is easier when you grow on an allotment plot in a single bed rather than in a garden where you want things to look more attractive – then like us you take off the nets so snow won’t weight them down and the pigeons move in!

    • Liz says:

      Ah pigeons – I have plenty of those (well actually the ones in my garden are Doves. They love finding seeds in the pea straw that I often use as mulch.

  6. Miss Bougie says:

    Thanks for finally putting a name on this vegetable, sprouting broccoli (calabrese). I’ve had a taste of it in asian cuisine, yum, but had no idea what it was. It’s not very common over here; I have actually never seen it sold in shops or on the markets. I have to investigate if I can find any seeds.

  7. Diana says:

    Yes yes yes totally agree with you. This is the most easiest calabrese to grow and mine managed to produce non-stop for more than a year. I don’t have much luck with the purple sprouting broccoli. PSB took too long to wait for the harvest, by the time the weather too hot and they don’t look purple at all just dark green. Then the aphids just make their home there.
    I am thinking of joining spotlight Saturday this week with Baby Blue Jade Corn. Going to try to auto-scheduled the posting for this coming Saturday. Hopefully you can help me link. Thank you :).

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