Broccoli, Purple Sprouting – Rioja F1
Broccoli, Purple Sprouting – Rioja F1 is an F1 hybrid with compact and dense florets and is one of the earliest to mature.
Don’t mix this one up with the green ‘broccoli’ you know from shops. These are called calabrese in the gardener’s language! This one is the purple sprouting that will yield delicious and healthy spears from February until May.
The best time to sow Sprouting Broccoli is in June/July (definitely not earlier!). Sow one seed per module about 1.5cm deep and about 4 weeks later plant out the modules or pot them on into 9cm pots before planting out
A spacing of 75cm each way is the minimum.
Approx. seed count: 20sds
Growing Broccoli, Purple Sprouting – Rioja F1
Brassica oleracea Italica Group
Brassicaceae (also known as Cruciferae)
Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, swede, turnip, radish, cress.
Brassica derives from the Celtic bresic, the name for cabbage. Oleracea means ‘as a herb’ – the wild cabbage.
Broccoli, Purple Sprouting – Rioja F1 is an extremely useful vegetable as it matures in late winter to early spring during the hungry gap period when there is very little else around. The name broccoli derives from the Latin brachium which means ‘branch’. In the 17th century it was referred to as ‘Sprout Cauliflower’ and ‘Italian Asparagus’. There is still confusion about its name. What consumers call broccoli is really called calabrese. So if you want the green, dense curd which has become very fashionable in recent years. But if you want to grow this delicious vegetable with mostly purple and sometimes white flowering shoots, read on.
Broccoli most likely originated in Greece. The first records of broccoli date from the first century AD. It then spread from Italy to northern Europe but only arrived in England in the 18th century.
Soil and site:
Broccoli, Purple Sprouting – Rioja F1 requires a fertile, deep soil with high moisture retention and good drainage. Sprouting broccoli is easy to grow and will tolerate most sites, even 33 fairly exposed ones as long as adequate support is provided. Poorer soils can be improved by a fairly heavy application of half rotted manure or compost, ideally in the previous autumn, so that the soil can settle down. The pH level of the soil should be above 6.5 otherwise it should be corrected either in the form of calcified seaweed or ground limestone. An acid soil may encourage the spread of clubroot.
Many beginners sow sprouting broccoli far too early and then the plants get confused and may produce in autumn or become too big to survive the winter. The best time to sow is in mid June. You can sow sprouting broccoli in modular trays which are placed in a greenhouse (or tunnel). I sow one or two seeds per module about 1.5cm deep. If two seeds germinate you have to remove the weaker seedling. They usually germinate within 5 to 7 days and are ready for planting out about 4 weeks after sowing. In order to prolong the harvesting season you can sow an early and a late variety at the same time. Spacing Sprouting broccoli becomes quite a large plant so do not underestimate the space it requires. A spacing of 75cm each way is the minimum. Rotation It is absolutely essential to keep sprouting broccoli in the brassica section of your rotation to prevent a build up of the numerous brassica pests and diseases.
Sprouting broccoli gets very top heavy so they will benefit from a generous earthing up. In exposed gardens you may need to stake the plants to prevent them collapsing during the winter gales. But be warned: bamboo canes do not work for this purpose. You would need to drive in a 4 x 4cm thick square peg or an old strong tool handle.
Harvesting and storing:
Harvest Broccoli, Purple Sprouting – Rioja F1 when the heads appear but well before they open up into yellow flowers. The plants mature around February and sometimes produce into May. The shoots should be cut when they are about 15cm long. It is absolutely crucial that they are harvested regularly and that they are not allowed to go into flower. If this happens still cut them off and discard and they will produce new shoots. Broccoli can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or it can be blanched and frozen.
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