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White sprouting broccoli 2

Photo: White sprouting broccoli

Photo: White sprouting broccolt

The taste of really fresh purple sprouting broccoli from the garden is only beaten by the flavour of sweet white sprouting broccoli. John Coe gives us broccoli plants each year in July. They need to be covered with nets or the birds will strip the young leaves clean within a few days. They also need to be protected from the cabbage white caterpillar.  Apart from those two key rules they are easy to grow as long as you know that they will not produce their delicate spears until April of the following year.

A lot of my clients have planted them and dug them up at the end of the summer as they didn’t read the seed packet carefully enough. Broccoli takes at least nine months to produce its succulent spears. 

Luckily, John Coe explained how long they would take to grow. He was extremely enthusiastic about growing our own.
“Apart from being very expensive, the stuff that’s available in the supermarkets can be bitter as it’s often not super fresh. Grow this, Fiona. It’s great to harvest at the end of the winter. You’ll never regret it. I can guarantee that once you taste it, you will cultivate brocolli every year.” And we have.

I must admit that I was dubious. Like every newcomer to growing vegetables I wanted results within weeks. But as we’d been given the plants I said nothing. They sat on a large patch of ground, looking interesting and unproductive.

But when April came we tasted the spears and fell in love with this vegetable. We’d now never ever consider dropping it from our vegetable repertoire. Thank you John Coe, home grown sprouting broccoli is the ultimate treat at the start of Spring.

We never know whether we are being given white or purple sprouting broccoli plants by John. I did mention last year, well hinted actually, that we prefer the white sprouting broc. When he brought the plants this summer, I didn’t like to ask whether they were white or purple. But was delighted a couple of weeks ago when I saw the white florets coming through.

First mini feast this evening. Snap the floret at the top of each plant to encourage the plant to develop loads of side shoots. Pick like mad from the top, as the more that you harvest the spears the more the plant will produce. If you are on the ball on the picking front, you could have a harvest period that lasts six weeks. Sprouting broccoli also freezes well, if you have a glut.

White sprouting broccoli plants are smaller then purple sprouting ones. The cabbage white caterpillars agree that they taste much better. They are so easy to grow so why not try some in your garden this year?

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Evofirst

    The white sprouting variety is common in Europe but is generally not grown commercially as it is smaller than purple sprouting broc and the harvest is much diminutive.

    However it is a deluxe veg that knocks purple sprouting broc into the shade in an instant. If you have the space, grow and nurture this veg or cosy up big time to people that do have the space.

    More special than asparagus this is a largely undiscovered delight.

    When we have taken the sprouts from our plants we eat the smaller leaves and set some more seed. I don’t think that they are biannuals.

  2. Evofirst

    I had my first harvest of purple broccoli and am indeed surprise there is another variety white – have not seen it at all – where do they orginate from.

    Secondly what do I do with the plants after the harvest, does it continue to grown and produces sprouts the next year?

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