Named after the Italian region of Calabria, calabrese is a type of broccoli. For simplicity, supermarkets and greengrocers sell it as broccoli.
Calabrese has one large head, but smaller heads develop after the central head is cut. It can be harvested from summer to the first frosts. It’s different to purple sprouting broccoli, which has smaller heads and crops from winter through into spring.
Growing from seed means you’ll be able to grow a wide range of varieties, giving you a crop for many months of the year. Here’s how.
You Will Need
- Calabrese seeds
- Good quality compost, multi-purpose
- Small pots
- Crushed oyster shells
- Fleece, (and support)
- Sharp knife
Calabrese seed can be sown direct in the ground, but you’ll get better results by sowing in pots of multipurpose compost. After germination, thin seedlings to leave the strongest in each pot.
When large enough to handle easily (usually from late April to May) plant out into well-prepared soil. Space plants 60-75cm (24-30in) apart, with the same spacing between the rows.
Firm the soil at the base of the plant very well, then tug one of the bottom leaves to check that the plant is secure. Calabrese can suffer from windrock if not firmly planted.
Slugs and snails can cause a lot of damage to your young calabrese plants. Drizzle a ring of crushed oyster shell around the base of the plant – slugs and snails don’t like crossing it.
Water the plants thoroughly, then cover with fleece to prevent attacks from cabbage white butterflies, cabbage moth and pigeons. You must keep the fleece in close contact with the ground, so a purpose-built frame is really useful.
Using a sharp knife, cut off the head before the florets begin to open, and while the head is still firm. Don’t dig up the plant as the cut stalk will produce new heads.