Mar, Apr, May, Jun
At its best:
Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Nov, Dec
Sow the seeds into small pots or multi-cell trays, using a good quality multi-purpose or loam-based seed and cuttings compost. Once they're large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out and transplant them into single 9cm pots, watering in well.
Fork the soil over, removing large stones, debris and perennial weeds. Bulky organic matter is essential on lighter soils – even on heavy soil, it’s worth adding to improve moisture retention and texture. You may need to add lime if your soil is acidic. Brassicas dislike loose soil, so firm lightly with your foot.
Transplant out when the plants are 7-9cm tall. Water them well before removing from their pots, and plant them 50-60cm apart, with a similar distance between the rows. Water again after planting and firm each rootball in well. Grow six plants if you want enough broccoli to feed a family of four.
Purple-sprouting broccoli has great flavour, a long harvesting season and is extremely good for you.
Keep the soil moist at all times and remove weeds to reduce competition. If growth is slow and stems of purple buds fail to appear, use a liquid feed to prompt them. Be sure to cover with fleece or mesh to keep out insects and birds.