Further information: Broccoli Plants.
Where to grow? - The day before planting prepare and water the rows – about 8cm apart. Plant firmly leaving about 45cm between purple and white sprouting broccoli plants and 15cm between green sprouting broccoli plants. Planting too closely will result in smaller, although still acceptable and tasty, heads. Then water the plants.
How to look after? - Your broccoli plants will put on rapid leaf growth with the development of the edible head following in 3-4 months. Feed the plants each week and do water regularly although reduce watering as the heads begin to mature.
Broccoli plants are hardy but can be susceptible to disease so seasonal crop rotation is important. To reduce the risk of disease make sure there is good air flow and maximum possible sunlight. Pigeons can be a problem and so you may need to give your broccoli plants protection but please check any netting very regularly so no birds become trapped.
When to harvest? - The time to harvest is when the spears are well formed but the flower buds have not yet opened. This is usually from February to April. Regular picking will encourage new spears to form. With calabrese, cut the central head from August to October. Side shoots will be produced which can be picked regularly.
How to eat? - Eat your broccoli as soon as possible after picking however it will also freeze well and will stay fresh in a bag in the freezer for up to 3 days. Broccoli can be steamed, boiled, braised or even dipped in batter and fried. Broccoli is very low in calories, just 34 calories per 100g, but very high in minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. So, whether eaten as a side dish or as a key ingredient your broccoli will both taste good and do you good!