Broccoli, Sprouting

May / Jun
Jan / Feb, Mar / Apr
Indoors | Outdoors

Why Grow It

Sprouting broccoli is a different vegetable to the standard broccoli that we get in the shops, which is actually called calabrese. Sprouting broccoli produces small florets in purple or white varieties and is traditionally harvested in winter and spring. It is a fantastic vegetable to grow as it will provide plenty of food at a time when there’s very little else available in the veg patch (from February to April).

  • Sprouting broccoli 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 sprouting broccoli 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.
  • Sprouting broccoli should be sown in May. It can be sown outside in a seed bed or inside in module trays.
  • If sowing outside, sow thinly in rows 15cm apart at a depth of 1cm.
  • If sowing in module trays, sow two seeds per module about 2cm deep. If both seeds germinate remove the weaker one.
  • Whether sowing in module trays or seed beds, the plants will need to be transplanted.
  • Plants will be ready for transplanting when they are about 15cm tall.
  • Plant out sprouting broccoli with a spacing of 60-80cm between plants.
  • Water well and frequently (especially in dry weather) and keep the base of the plants weed free.
  • They are tall plants that can be blown over by winter gales. Try using stakes and wire to prevent this – although they usually still produce a crop if they are blown over.
  • Usually sprouting varieties will be ready to harvest from February onwards (some varieties may be ready as soon as January, so make sure to check the seed packet).
  • Summer varieties will be ready to harvest between September-November.
  • Cut the heads as they become ready and then the side shoots as they emerge.
  • Harvest regularly and do not allow to go to flower – if this happens remove the flowers immediately to allow the plant to continue producing shoots.
  • Plant should continue to produce shoots for up to 3 months.
  • Purple Sprouting
  • Early Summer Purple (summer)
  • Sprouting broccoli, like all of 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.
  • The more you cut, the more it will produce – so blanch and freeze if you have more than you can handle.
  • Give them a good mulch with some compost over the winter.