Seed for BROCCOLI or CALABRESE, & RAPINI
These are all great and easy varieties that should give you a good crop with no fuss.
To help you know when to sow and harvest, we've added a timetable under each one.
= main sowing = alternative sowing or extensions
~ HEADING BROCCOLI or CALABRESE~
This is what we would consider 'normal' broccoli, taking about 120 days from planting out to make large green heads. We recommend this for your maincrop sowing.
- It is for successional sowing from the end of March to July.
- The heads will then be ready for harvest from the end of July onwards.
Normal 120-day heading calabrese.
Order BrGH - 2g (lots and lots of seed - hundreds!) £
This slightly unusual variety makes heads about 60-80 days after planting out. The plants will be a lot younger when they head up, so the heads will of course be rather smaller - but it can be very useful for getting in an extra crop.
There are two possibilities for sowing:
- You should start it from mid-March either in situ, or in blocks for transplanting out - and should then get an extra-early crop of heads in May/June.
- Or, as long as the winter is not too severe, it can be sown in late August or September in an unheated greenhouse or polytunnel, to give you a very early crop at the start of the following year.
Of course, in reality, experienced gardeners will know that with all the brassica family, it can - to be honest - be a bit random when they do actually head up, as it depends so much upon temperature and daylength when they are small. But by sowing this one as well as the 'normal' type, you will extend your season, whenever that turns out to be!
'Quick' 60 day heading broccoli.
Order BrQH - 2g (lots and lots of seed - hundreds!) £
~ Seed for PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI ~
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Should really need no introduction, but this makes a profusion of small purple flower sprouts in spring when fresh veg are most valued.
Early purple sprouting is sown in late spring one year, and then starts to produce from around the start of March the following year.
The nice big leaves are good to eat too, much as you would cook with cauliflower leaves.
Order BrEP - (at least 400 seed) £
Cima Di Rapa 'San Marzano' (60 days)
Unknown in the UK but easy to grow and loved on the continent. We introduced this in 2003 and it was a huge success. Everyone seemed to like it!
Raab is related to turnip - but produces delicious sprouts like a slightly spicy flavoured sprouting broccoli.
Quick growing plants that reach about 1 ft tall, making green sprouts used just like sprouting broccoli – but much quicker and easier to grow. Sow early spring under cover, or mid to late summer for harvest in 50-60 days.
Spicy maincrop 'broccoli' derived from the Turnip family. Nice raw in salads or cooked.
Order BrSM - 2g seed (lots!) £
'Kailaan' stem broccoli
Kailaan is from China and Japan, and it's similar to our broccoli and calabrese in that it has been bred for its unusual flower shoot shape.
The difference is that this has been selected for juicy, succulent stems rather than huge buds. The plants don't get as big as a calabrese plant, so you sow them a bit closer together.
It can be picked small (20 - 30 days old), taking whole plants at a time. Or from a summer sowing, you can leave it to grow larger (60 - 70 days), in which case you can get 3 cuts from it: take the main stem and it will grow new ones from the side-shoots.
A useful vegetable that can be sown after mid-summer or early spring to give a quick yield of juicy shoots that are cooked and used just like calabrese.
Order OvKL - approx 300 seed £
Huauzontle (Aztec Broccoli )
This amazing plant grows large bushes (4 ft tall) with delicious edible leaves. However the best bits are the hundreds & hundreds of flower shoots which you gather just before they show their tiny yellow petals.
Easily picked, just take the top 3 inches of each flower stem (which will have both leaves and flowers) and boil or steam them. They are simple to cook and really nice.
It is hard to explain, but as well as the flavour, what is quite special about this plant is the texture when cooked.
This is one of the very few greens that keep a great texture when cooked, with a very slight crunch to them. They're not in any way chewy - but they just don't go completely soft the way that for example spinach does.
Because of this, as well as just eating as a green, they are a really great thing to mix in with rice, potato cakes, couscous or stir-fries, as an easy way to make a very simple and plain dish seem really special.
If you're a particularly keen cook, search on the internet for 'Huauzontles' for lots of Mexican recipes for fritters and more! But they're great just cooked simply and quickly as a side dish too. We plant around half a dozen plants in our home garden each summer, to supply us with shoots from mid-summer right through to the middle of October.
Botanically speaking, this is Chenopodium berlandieri. The baby plants look similar to the weed Fat Hen - so don't weed them out by mistake! They can get about 3 to 5 ft tall, and almost as wide. The leaves go red as nights cool, looking very pretty.
Order LGHu - approx 200 seed £
Saving Your Own Vegetable Brassica Seed:
We would really like to encourage you to have a go at saving seed from brassica family - that's the cabbages, kales, oriental vegetables, broccoli and turnip family. We know many of you save obvious ones like tomato and lettuce seed, but we've noticed that in the past people shied away from doing the biennial vegetables (plants that flower in their second year).
More people are saving brassica seed now - and we'd like to encourage you to try it too: its incredibly easy, and you get so much seed, you'll have loads to give away. There's really no need for example to buy Kale seed from us every year at all. You just set aside a patch of good kale plants, and let them flower, making sure that you've got a reasonable number, that they are healthy, and that no other sorts are flowering nearby that might cross with them. You'll get lots of seeds in August.
Here's Kate processing some Pak Choi.
You do need to make sure they aren't crossed with anything,
as many of the brassicas (cabbages, cauliflowers etc) will cross with each other very readily.
Flower stalks from a good-sized population are hung
up to dry,
then broken open over a bowl (or old baby bath in this case!).
The bits of pod are screened out with a sieve or a soil riddle
- but you can instead winnow them off in a breeze pretty easily if you prefer.
Step-by-step instructions are here on our brassica-seed-processing page.
And of course, seed-saving is only possible because these are all real, non-hybrid varieties.
It's pretty foolproof - why not give it a go?