Broccoli and Calabrese are different varieties of the same vegetable.
Growing them both is an ideal way to extend the cropping season.
The name Broccoli is generally reserved for sprouting varieties which when cut will sprout again, which gives rise to its name broccoli which is Italian for little sprouts.
In general terms, the differences are:
- Calabrese produces large green heads, and is mild flavoured, whereas broccoli produces smaller purple or white heads, and is stronger flavoured.
- Broccoli matures in spring from sowing made the previous year, whereas calabrese matures in mid to late summer from sowings made earlier in the same year.
- In exposed gardens, taller varieties may need supporting with a cane to avoid wind damage.
- Best results are obtained when planted in a sunny position, in reasonably heavy soil that has been enriched with liberal amounts of well-rotted manure for a previous crop e.g. potatoes.
Circa Week 22-25:
Sow seeds of spring cropping Purple and White varieties in pots or cell trays of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 13°C (55°F).
Germination should take around five or six days.
When the seedlings show their first pair of true leaves, prick them out into 75mm (3") pots of potting compost and grow on at the same temperature, in a light position.
Move plants into coldframe to harden off a couple of days after pricking out.
Pricked out Seedlings
Plant out in full sun or partial shade 500mm (18") apart each way.
Prior to planting out top dress the area with bonemeal at a rate of 75 gm (3oz) per sq metre.
Bonemeal is more suited than Fish blood and bone as it has a lower nitrogen content.
Nitrogen is better applied in spring.
Planted out Seedlings
( the following year) Remove discoloured foliage and hoe around the plants.
Boost growth by hoeing in either sulphate of ammonia or nitro-chalk at a rate of 1oz (30g) per sq m.
Alternatively; use 3oz (90g) per sq m of growmore or similar.
Week 13 >:
Begin to harvest before the yellow flowers open.
Pick the heads/spears regularly to encourage the formation of more side-shoots.
Spears ready for harvesting
Pests & Disease:
Pest and diseases are the same as any other member of the brassica family so always be vigilant for them, and treat them accordingly.
The most common are; Aphids, Cabbage root fly, Caterpillars, Clubroot, and Downy Mildew.
It is recommended that the plants are covered with nets, particularly in spring.
At this time of year they are an ideal food source for pigeons, rabbits and deer when there is very little else about for them to eat.