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