Friday, 10 August 2007

Reliable calabrese

Continuing the flowers in the garden theme that has developed over the past few days......

Calabrese is probably the easiest of the brassica family to grow. In the UK it is sold in supermarkets as 'brocolli' - but real brocolli is a taller member of the cabbage family and has lots of separate flower spikes. It is frost tolerant and is usually harvested in spring. Calabrese is tender and does not tolerate frosts. In appearance its florets probably most closely resemble cauliflower.

Calabrese seeds are sown in spring and take around twelve weeks to come to maturity. Short, compact plants are produced with a central 'tree' of florets. The floret is cut and the plants may then be composted or fed to the hens. Alternatively, if left, the plant will then give a second crop of smaller florets. Successional sowings should ensure that there is abundant calabrese from June to October. Surpluses freeze well.

Calabrese has always been the most reliable part of our brassica garden rotation. Germination is easy and the growing plants need very little cosseting. Rabbits love it and so protection is required.

Stalwarts of Leapool Allotments (where we garden) tell us this has been the worst gardening year since the allotments were opened in 1947. Needless to say that even reliable calbrese has been very disappointing this year.

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