Sprouting broccoli is delicious, nutritious and makes a colourful addition to borders.
Extremely hardy (down to -12°C), it's an ideal winter crop. Be sure to protect your harvests by avoiding growing sprouting broccoli on exposed sites, which can lead to issues with windrock. If you're wondering how to protect other fruit and vegetable crops from the worst of our weather, read our guide to weather-proofing your veg plot.
Discover some interesting facts about this brilliant vegetable, including sprouting broccoli nutrition and storage, below
Did you know...
The crunchy broccoli heads that we eat are actually made up of hundreds of tiny buds that are ready to open into yellow, cross-shaped flowers.
Broccoli contains extremely high levels of vitamin C, which protects cells and keeps them healthy, as well as vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting. Other vegetables with such high levels of vitamin C include kale and bell peppers.
Harvest the heads of sprouting broccoli when the flowering shoots are 15-20cm long, but before the flower buds open, by snapping off 8-10cm of their length.
Broccoli will stand well in the garden if provided with protection from birds, especially when other food is scarce. Airflow is important to keep it fresh, so refrigerate it in a ventilated bag for up to two days. For longer-term sprouting broccoli storage, blanch for five minutes then store in the freezer for up to 12 months.
'Claret' offers a heavy crop of delicious purple spears, 'Red Spear' crops for a long time and is very hardy, while 'White Sprouting' has tender spears with a mild flavour.
How to grow
To harvest from October to March, sow the seeds into small pots or multi-cell trays. Alternatively, sow outdoors in drills and cover until after frosts have passed. For full instructions on growing sprouting broccoli, take a look at our step-by-step guide to growing purple-sprouting broccoli.
Protect your cropProtect your crop from birds by covering the plants with netting or fleece - which has the added advantage of keeping other pests, such as cabbage whites, out too.
This special edition Year Planner 2023 contains advice for every month of the year, with tips for delicious harvests, plus, a sowing calendar is included for the best results all year round. Only £7.99.