The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

You can eat the leaves of sprouting broccoli plants

Photo: White sprouting broccoli leaves

Photo: White sprouting broccoli leaves

For the past five years John Coe has supplied us with sprouting broccoli plants. The purple variety gives a bigger, longer harvest. But nothing can beat the sweetness of white sprouting broccoli. This is the Premier Cru of sprouting broccoli. It is generally not available from the shops as the plants are smaller, the yield is minimal and the harvest is short.

Sounds like the sort of vegetable that you should ignore. Wrong. White sprouting broccoli is a real delicacy. On a par with the first longed for asparagus shoots. If you have the space, give this angelic vegetable the chance to dazzle you. The plants are set in July and the harvest is in the following April.  They hang out decoratively over the winter and from March the florets are forming.

With us, the sprouting broccoli season is finally over. The plants were standing with leaves but no florets beside the raspberry canes when John Coe surveyed them on Wednesday.
“I don’t think that I’ve told you that the leaves of white sprouting broccoli are delicious and sweet.“

He had never divulged this.

“Just tear the leaves from the central stem, remove the thick leaf stem and simmer them for seven to eight minutes. They taste gorgeous.”

So last night I harvested some leaves from a couple of plants. John was right they were sweet and tasty and packed with fresh leaf flavour. So good that the Min Pins polished off the few remaining cooked leaves this morning preferring them to the pig’s liver topping!

So don’t jettison your broccoli plants to the compost heap. Eat the leaves and enjoy a real treat and if you have leftovers share them with your pets.

  Leave a reply


  1. my father used to mix cauliflower florets with sprouting broccoli leaves it was delicious

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Monica

    I don’t know. But under a thick double fleece and a thick layer of bark chippings I reckon that these plants would have a chance. They stand all winter in the UK even when we have hard frosts and snow. You can buy the seeds here

    Hello Joanna

    Perhaps it would be worth investing in a small poly tunnel?

    Hi Sylvie

    I think that Steve might have the answer to your allotment problem. Scroll up to see his comment. Also have a look at Rachel’s comment – it would be well worth registering for the land share scheme.

    Growing veg is enormous fun. I’ve discovered that these plants are far more thrilling than those in the herbaceous border.

    Hi Celia

    These are the big leaves on the stalk not the small tender ones around the sprouts. I did read on a blog last spring that the main stalks can be simmered for soup too. Although I suspect they’d take hours as they’re really tough.

    Lucky you a pound a bag of PSB is a real bargain.

    Hi Rachel

    Thanks so much for leaving this comment. I don’t watch telly so often miss out on stuff that’s in the news.

    Hello Kate(uk)

    I didn’t know that you can eat the tops of beetroot. Thanks so much for the tip.

    Hi S.O.L.

    You can buy the seeds here

    Hi Steve

    Thanks so much for this tip.

    We are so lucky to have a big plot. To be stuck on a waiting list for an allotment would be soul destroying as I’m hooked on growing our own fruit and veg. It’s so therapeutic and everything tastes better than the stuff available in the shops.

  3. Sylvie, you say three friends and yourself are looking for land/allotment. If you can find one more interested friend, and you approach your local council, they are legally bound to provide you with somewhere, but there must be five of you!
    This was one fact that H.Fearnley-Wittingstall unearthed when he was promoting his “get Britain Growing” campaign recently.

  4. wow I have never heard of this. Could you advise of the company who you bought the seeds from. PLEASE!

  5. kate (uk)

    If anyone lives in/near Norwich one of the veg stalls in the open market had white sprouting broccoli last week.
    Don’t forget you can eat beetroot tops as well as the roots- they are yummy.

  6. Sylvie ahve you tried the channel 4 Landshare scheme? Worth registering if you aren’t already.

    I’ve enver seen white sprouting but will definately try and find some, sunds lovely

  7. magic cochin

    Don’t you find it sad to see those packs of trimmed Purple Sprouting Broccoli on the supermarket shelves? I know it’s great that they are there at all – but all ready trimmed! Those small leaves around the shoots are delicious.

    I haven’t grown any this year in the garden, but at my fave farm-gate stall I can get big plastic bags of untrimmed PSB for £1 – bargain!


  8. It’s so good to make use off everything. me and three friends are desperately trying to find some land/allotment to start growing our own in the city, but it’s hard to come by.

  9. I was wondering the same thing too for here in Latvia. I guess they might with some protection but I wonder what kind of protection when it dips to -20C

  10. This sounds interesting. I wonder if it is a gardening-project more suitable for warmer countries or if broccoli would survive the winter in Sweden too…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,211,181 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder