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Delicious purple-sprouting broccoli spears are full of vitamins

Pretty and prolific sprouting broccoli is packed with vitamins, with spears coming in white or purple. It's easy to grow from seed and with the right varieties, you can be harvesting tasty florets from autumn to late spring.
Growing calendar
Sow outdoors End Apr-mid May
Plant out Jun-Jul
Harvest Dec-Apr

How to grow sprouting broccoli

Sow seed 0.5cm deep in seed trays in early spring in a cool but sheltered greenhouse and transplant to 9cm pots. Transplant outside in June, 45cm apart, when they're 10cm tall and have six leaves. Can tolerate shade. Water in prolonged dry weather and mulch to conserve moisture. They like a little glug of homemade nettle liquid feed.

Harvesting and use

Eight to ten plants will feed a family of four, and you can cut regularly for up to eight weeks. Snip spears when they're 10-20cm long, before flowers open. Start with the central spear to encourage more side shoots. Purple-sprouting broccoli spears are delicious cooked simply, like asparagus!

Tips for growing sprouting broccoli

On exposed sites, the top-heavy stems can be rocked by the wind so plant with the bottom leaves touching the soil, firming in well. All brassicas like firm soil so add organic matter before planting to ensure they have a solid base, and pull or 'earth-up' soil around the stems. Fleece or net to stop pigeons eating the growing shoots, and cabbage whites laying eggs on the leaves.

Seed saving

Once flowering has finished, seed pods develop and can be left to mature. The pods turn yellow as they begin to ripen and are ripe when they start turning brown. Remove the entire stalk when the majority of the pods have dried. It's important not to cut the stalks too early, while the pods are still green, as the seed will not continue to develop once cut. Pods can be threshed or broken out by hand. Stored in a cool, dry place brassica seed will last for at least five years. View our detailed seed saving advice here.

Growing notes
Difficulty Easy
Germination time 7-12 days
Average time to harvest From 35 weeks
Equipment needed Stakes, twine
Average plant size 90cm tall, 60cm wide
Family group to grow with Brassica: cabbage, turnip
Latin name Brassica oleracea
Key nutritional content Folate, vitamin C, calcium
Seed saving Biennial, needs isolation