Growing broccoli

by Pippa Greenwood

It has always infuriated me that I've never been able to grow a halfway decent crop of either of the two brassicas I do like: broccoli and cauliflower

BroccoliThere are some plants I struggle with, and one family in particular: the brassicas. I can't say that I am a huge fan of the taste of all the kales and cabbages. I never have been and don't think I ever will!

But it has always infuriated me that I've never been able to grow a halfway decent crop of either of the two brassicas I do like: broccoli and cauliflower. But now I have managed it, and I'm so impressed with the results I feel inclined to boast!

This year, I grew 'Ironman', an F1 variety of broccoli that came highly recommended from the nursery. I needed a good, flavoursome, well-textured and reliable variety and 'Ironman' proved to be just perfect.

It grew fast and furious from the sturdy plants that went in to the ground in early May. Massive, tasty heads appeared, all really tight and compact, with a gorgeous taste.  I removed the main head and at first I thought I'd found its weak spot - there didn't  appear to be any of those bonus side-shoots I love to crop a few weeks after the main harvest. Then suddenly out they shot. I didn't weigh them but they were all several inches across and just as tasty. I still haven't solved the cauliflower problem, but now I'm fired up with so much enthusuasm, not to mention big-headedness, I feel that should be my next challenge!

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Gardeners' World Web User 21/10/2009 at 18:31

You can try feeding cauliflowers once a month with dry blood (12% nitrogen)which is needed for the brassicas to develop good heads.I mix it with BFB and spread mixture around the plants.So far it has always worked for me.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/10/2009 at 20:22

well like pippa I managed a small crop of broccoli this year and still getting off shoots. But Cauliflower is my main problem allways bolts seem to have some coming at the moment for winter picking so fingers crossed.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/10/2009 at 22:11

Hi All I have tried to grow cauliflowers for 3 years now and the best I have managed is one about the size of a 10p piece!! The rest have really lush greenery about 2 ft tall but no cauli!! I would be very grateful of any advice. I have dug loads of horse manure and home made compost into the soil over each winter, is this where I am going wrong? Many thanks and happy gardening.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/10/2009 at 14:42

well i'm into my 3rd season of brocoli and i love it, the 1st year was a flop, some went to seed, the rest were blitzed by cabbage white's but since then i've had brocoli from late may til oct, cover the early ones with netting so the butterflys keep off, keep them watered and away you go, i put some seeds in late july, just to try, and they have been just as good, not growing to the huge size of summer, but i've still a dozen in the garden, ready to eat, i would recommend brocoli to grow, i've grown calabrese and lord, planting them in pots then when sturdy enough planted them out, cane them up to stop wind damage, and enjoy

Gardeners' World Web User 23/10/2009 at 17:14

I have tried purple sprouting brocoli this year, lovely strong plants but no heads, can anyone tell me when they will shoot, I planted them out about May time. Thanks

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