Broccoli, Calabrese

Mar / Apr, May / Jun
Jul / Aug, Sep / Oct
Indoors | Outdoors

Why Grow It

There are two major types of broccoli: calabrese and sprouting. If you are looking to grow the standard broccoli that we buy in shops with the big green tightly-packed head, then calabrese is the broccoli for you. While it is not the easiest veg to master, it is relatively handy to grow and can be succession sown (i.e. sown little and often for a continuous supply), so that you can crop almost all summer and autumn long.

  • Calabrese should be planted in a soil that has been well-manured the previous autumn. Alternatively, you can add compost or manure and/or a general fertiliser one week before sowing/planting.
  • Do not grow calabrese anywhere that you have grown any member of the cabbage family the last three years (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collards and kale). The best way to manage all these veg is to create a crop rotation scheme prior to growing.
  • We recommend starting seeds off in module trays indoors for later transplanting.
  • If you are planning on succession sowing you can sow in late March, again in early May and finally early June (if you are transplanting to a polytunnel or greenhouse you can start sowing a little earlier).
  • Sow a single seed per module about 2cm deep.
  • Transplant around 4-6 weeks after sowing when the plants are 12-15cm high.
  • Space plants around 30cm apart.
  • Add a general fertiliser if plants seem hungry.
  • Keep the soil moist and weed free.
  • Calabrese will be ready to harvest 3-4 months after sowing, so you should get your first broccoli crop in early July.
  • Start harvesting by cutting the central head. Once this is removed, smaller side shoots will develop.
  • It should go on cropping for 4-6 weeks.
  • Green Sprouting
  • Broccoli, like all the cabbage (brassica) family has a wide range of pests and diseases.
  • If you don’t want to spray with poisonous chemicals the following should keep them healthy.
  • Make sure the ground is clear and slug free when transplanting – use a less toxic slug killer like iron phosphate if slugs seem to be a problem.
  • Use an insect mesh net to keep out cabbage fly, butterflies, aphids and pigeons.
  • When the plant is coming close to harvest, check them every few days as the flower heads quickly move beyond the densely packed stage (at which they are perfect) and open up in to yellow flowers. They will look pretty then but they are useless from a GIY perspective.
  • Wider spacing (45cm) between plants will produce larger central heads, but you get less plants per square metre.