Monday, 14 April 2008

purple reign

For a short while, the tall broccoli plants lord it over the garden. Big and strong and robed with netting, they are now yielding fat flower spikes that taste good - and look good.
Who is to say that the flowers of the exotic blueberry are more beautiful than those of the prosaic broccoli - well not this gardener.

The broccoli was sown way back last year and then planted out into a bed that had hosted field beans. The ground was quite firm and the broccoli plants grew through the summer, autumn and winter . They have had to overcome caterpillars, white fly and pigeon attack and are now yielding big strong florets.

The first crop is of shoots that are robust and around five inches (13 cms)long. Later florets will be smaller but all have a stronger, more peppery, earthy taste than the 'broccoli' sold in supermarkets that gardeners grow as calabrese. Broccoli also has the advantage of being truly seasonal - calabrese can be purchased from the supermarket shrink-wrapped throughout the year.

Both calabrese and broccoli are among the easiest members of the brassica (cabbage) family to grow.

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