How to Grow Broccoli
How to Grow Broccoli
There are two main types of broccoli: curding and sprouting. The curding types produce white heads like cauliflowers; the sprouting types produce numerous side shoots with tiny heads, which are either purple or white, depending on the variety.
Broccoli, sprouting – Brassica oleracea var. italica
Wherever there is room, sprouting broccoli should be grown. It is hardy, of good flavour and makes a pleasant change,especially as it matures when other green vegetables are becoming scarce. The samepreparation and cultural methods are required as for heading broccoli. Since the plants are fairly tall growing, they should not be placed where they are exposed to strong winds.
Seed need not be sown until spring, but early soil preparation is necessary. Farmyard manure or a good substitute should be worked in, a position manured for a previous crop being suitable. If necessary, a surface dusting of lime should be applied before planting out. Over rich land leads to soft, sappy growth, liable to winter damage. Sow thinly and transplant early, so that the seedlings do not become drawn. Allow 75cm between plants.
Sprouting broccoli is gathered when the flower heads are growing out of the leaf axils. If cut about two thirds of their length, more shoots will be produced from the base of the stems. Do not cut off the leaves since these afford some protection to the sprouts. Although they can eventually be used.
As with other members of the brassica family, sprouting broccoli is much more palatable if steamed.
Varieties. Early Purple Sprouting, and Late Purple Sprouting provide a long succession of sprouts. White Sprouting is hardy and ready for cutting in spring. A well known USA variety is Spartan Early.
Broccoli Green Sprouting
Fairly well known as calabrese, this is an excellent vegetable for late summer and autumn use. It differs from the ordinary sprouting broccoli in that it first produces a good sized central head 15cm or more in diameter. When this is cut, the plant produces from each joint, shoots or sprouts which should be gathered when they have a 10 to 13cm stem. They become available from early autumn onwards.
Under good growing conditions calabrese is very productive, more so than the purple and white forms, probably because it makes most of its growth during the better weather conditions.
There are now several strains including Atlantic, ready for cutting in the autumn from a spring sowing. Green Comet, is an F1 hybrid giving a large central head, and Late Corona an F1 hybrid which is later maturing.
Broccoli Nine Star Perennial
Although a sprouting broccoli, this plant provides heads rather like small cauliflowers. Since it is a perennial, the ground must be in really good condition at planting time.
Apart from farmyard and other bulky manures added when the soil is being prepared, a good dressing ofmanure or bone meal, say 3 or 4oz to the square metre, will encourage the production of the nine broccoli heads for several years in succession.
Transplant the seedlings to another bed so that they form plenty of roots and become sturdy specimens for planting 75cm apart each way in the autumn. The first heads will be ready for cutting in the following early spring. The seeds are not easy to secure at the present time but when available should be sown in spring.
Calabrese, sometimes known as Green Sprouting broccoli, because the side shoots are green and often much larger than those of the normal sprouting broccoli; not, however, a winter vegetable but is available in late summer and early autumn.
Early Purple Sprouting, has small shoots with purple heads in March.
Early White Sprouting, for use in February and March. Small white heads on short shoots.
Late Purple Sprouting, similar to the Early Purple Sprouting, but is far hardier and more prolific. April to May.
Late White Sprouting, has longer shoots and is hardier than Early White Sprouting. March to April.
Nine Star Perennial, each plant produces 15 or so small creamy-white heads each year for five years. Sow seeds in May; plant out 3 ft. square in early September.