Calabrese produce large heads of tightly-packed florets (as opposed to sprouting shoots like broccoli). Plants provide a tasty stop-gap between the spring greens and the winter brassicas as they're usually ready for harvesting in summer and early autumn.
Growing calendar
Sow outdoors End Apr-mid May
Plant out Jun-Jul
Harvest Aug-Nov

How to grow calabrese

Grow calabrese from seed 0.5cm deep in small pots or a seedbed. Transplant 45x60cm apart in fertile soil when 10cm tall. Plant calabrese so the bottom leaves touch the soil, firming well. Water in prolonged dry weather. Mulch to conserve moisture.

Harvesting and using calabrese

The nutritious head is ready to harvest when it's firm but still in bud. Cut cleanly at the stem, and the plant may develop side shoots to give you a second crop.

Tips for growing calabrese

Like all brassicas, calabrese needs fertile soil to flourish. Add plenty of organic matter to the planting site or grow a green manure in the autumn before planting.

Mulch to conserve moisture. Cover with netting to help protect from pests such as birds and cabbage white butterfly.

Saving calabrese seed

View our detailed seed saving advice for brassicas.

Growing notes
Difficulty Easy
Germination time 7-12 days
Average time to harvest 12 weeks
Equipment needed Stakes, twine
Average plant size 90cm tall, 60cm wide
Family group Brassica: brussels sprouts, rocket
Latin name Brassica oleracea
Key nutritional content Folate, vitamin C, vitamin A
Seed saving notes Biennial, needs isolation